Mercedes-Benz's S63 AMG occupies the third-highest strata, pricewise, in the three-pointed star's sedan hierarchy. For performance, though, the S63 AMG can only be bested (slightly) by a twin-turbo V12 sibling that costs about $60,000 more. In that sense, the S63 AMG could almost be considered a bargain.
The S63 may be the lesser of Mercedes' two AMG-massaged S-Class sedans, but the power developed by its twin-turbo, direct fuel-injected 5.5-liter V8 is still enough to leave most Corvettes in the rearview mirror. The motor produces 536 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque in standard form, while the optional AMG Performance Package cranks up the boost for 564 ponies and a truly staggering 664 lb-ft of torque.
Sprint times are limited more by traction than anything else, with 60 mph arriving in a hair over four seconds for either model.
Routing power from the engine is a seven-speed automatic transmission, dubbed the SPEEDSHIFT MCT, that utilizes a wet clutch pack in place of a traditional torque converter. The result is gear changes that can occur in just .1 second in the transmission's sportiest shift mode, yet the transmission can still provide the gentle shifts expected of a full-size luxury yacht when put in its Comfort setting.
The transmission also features smooth rev-matching during downshifts and has a launch mode for stoplight racing; if drivers want to take control into their own hands, aluminum paddle shifters situated behind the wheel allow them to do just that.
Given its enormous performance potential, the S63 AMG's powertrain is actually fairly efficient with EPA ratings of 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
Like other AMG-badged cars, the S63 features a full bodykit and unique 20-inch wheels. A sport active suspension and interior styling touches complete the transformation from mere S-Class to fire-breather.
The S63 also comes standard with upgraded brakes, parking assistance for front and rear, multicontour heated, ventilated and massaging front seats with body-securing side bolsters and keyless access. Options are limited to a night view system that displays a black-and-white view of the evening through the central gauges, as well as a Rear Seat Package that adds power adjustable, heated and ventilated rear seats to the equation.
Mercedes' COMAND system, featuring a swiveling LCD display and a silver control knob, is standard.
Further upgrading the S63's sporting status is an AMG performance package, which includes an aggressive limited slip differential, a 186-mph top speed limiter (from 155) and a unique, smaller diameter steering wheel.
A power panorama sunroof (to replace the traditional moonroof) and adaptive cruise control are also on the options list.
Mercedes-Benz has long been known for its safety features, and the S63 AMG will only add to that reputation. In addition to ABS and ESP stability control, the car boasts nine supplemental restraints including two-stage front air bags, a knee air bag for the driver and pelvic air bags which work together with curtain and side air bags to provide extra protection for front occupants in dangerous side-impact collisions.
Also standard is an "ATTENTION ASSIST" system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.
Next up on safety equipment list is the Lane Keeping Assist system, which alerts the driver by simulating a rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. It operates at speeds above 37 mph via a system that recognizes lane markings, thanks to a small camera in the windshield and a computer that analyzes the video images.
Finally there's Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots behind and to the side of the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings.
The massive power boost found in the S63 AMG puts this Mercedes-Benz luxo-sedan into a whole new realm of competitors, including vehicles like the Bentley Continental GT, Rolls-Royce Phantom and Aston Martin Rapide.