“Less is more, ” AMG chief Tobias Moers says with a straight face. He is referring to the new S63 AMG, which is definitely more. Way more. A group of journos has just ripped wormholes in space out of Salzburg, over autobahns and twisty mountain roads, into Kitzbühel, Austria. The engines are still crackling in the garage below the posh Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol. All day long, the hills were alive with the sound of 577 horsepower and up to 664 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds (our estimate), and a terminal velocity of 186 mph. Ungoverned, the car might crack 195 mph. We are still waiting to hear about the “less” part of less is more.
The AMG-powered S-class looks back on a long and proud tradition. In 1971, an AMG-enhanced 300SEL 6.3 made a lasting impact as the “Red Sow” in touring-car races. The tuner continued to offer high-performance variations of subsequent generations of the S-class. In 2005, Mercedes-AMG became a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler, and while it still operates with an unusual degree of independence, AMG now plays an integral part in the development of new Mercedes-Benz cars. That means less development time for new AMG models.
It also means less weight. Rarely before has AMG been able to tweak an S-class to this degree, with weight savings one of the key achievements Moers is referencing. Straight from the factory, the new S63 AMG comes with a light lithium-ion battery, a spare-wheel recess made from carbon fiber, and forged aluminum wheels. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional.We managed somewhat less, in the neighborhood of 16 mpg. /p p The AMG-exclusive seven-speed “MCT Speedshift” transmission replaces the torque converter with a wet starting clutch. In normal driving, it is virtually impossible to tell it apart from Benz’s regular slushbox. When pushed hard, though, the MCT is edgier. AMG has also worked on the chassis to make the S63 a more eager companion on curvy back roads. Greater negative wheel camber, a larger rear anti-roll bar, and a stiffer rear subframe make the car more stable in high-g driving. The four-wheel-drive system is rear-biased, but it is virtually impossible to coax this S-class into a drift, and anyway, the stability-control system cannot be turned off. Pity. We also wish the electrically assisted power steering would offer more feedback. /p table border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0"x">
Inside, this AMG is a true S-class, down to idiosyncratic details like the base car’s odd, two-spoke steering wheel (which is two spokes fewer than before) and the column-mounted gear selector. The ambient lighting can be adjusted in seven color hues, including “dawn red, ” which hilariously immerses the interior in pink. Exquisitely appointed with a focused attention to the last detail, the S-class is the first Benz in a long time to challenge Audi’s position as the interior-design leader.
Outside, S63s are distinguished by a few functional details, including a front air splitter and twin tailpipes. There is less visual fuss on the S63 than on lesser-priced AMG models, but enough to tell it apart from a regular S-class. One nice detail: The analog dash clock carries the Swiss boutique-watchmaker label IWC Schaffhausen.
On sale now at $140, 425, the S63 will of course be joined at some point by another V-12-powered S65 AMG, likely to make 621 horsepower while soaking the rich for around $200, 000. In that car, more will definitely be the most.