The S-Class is now available in coupe form and replaces the old CL-Class. At launch, CarAdvice gets behind the wheel of the S63 AMG variant.
With a starting price of $409,000, the 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG Coupe is set to join a select group of luminaries including the Bentley Continental GT, the Aston Martin Vanquish and the Maserati GranTurismo when it goes on sale locally today.
As you’ll read in our S-Class Coupe pricing and specification story, the S63 AMG Coupe will be joined by two other variants in May — the S500 and the S65 AMG — but for now buyers can only get their hands on the model we’re driving here, the S63 AMG Coupe.
Rare is the vehicle that can deliver crushing speed, luxurious comfort and technological wizardry in equal measure, but the S63 AMG Coupe has that specialised brief nailed — more on that later though. You might see this large coupe as being a peculiar vehicle in a niche segment and Mercedes-Benz agrees.
"A very unique customer buys this product,” says Jerry Stamoulis, manager for Mercedes-Benz Public Relations and Product Communication. “They are loyal to the brand, usually have more than one Mercedes-Benz in the garage and they love the technology.”
The point Stamoulis makes regarding technology is a relevant one too. In my recent review of the S600 Saloon, both S-Class owners I spoke to for that story commented that the technological inclusions were a major selling point for any Mercedes-Benz wearing an S badge. S-Class buyers are obviously wealthy, but they’re also savvy and have high expectations. Like any other S-Class then, this S63 AMG Coupe must impress in every regard.
For 18 years, this vehicle was known in the Mercedes-Benz lineup as the CL-Class. In a move that (thankfully) simplifies things somewhat, the big coupe reverts back to the S-Class nomenclature for what is now the ninth generation of the model.
It’s what’s hiding under the flowing bonnet that remains the S-Class’ piece de resistance. The 5.5-litre V8 engine is a powerhouse and reminds the greedy among us that we can have our cake and eat it too. Utilising bi-turbo technology, it cranks out a whopping 430kW and 900Nm — the same numbers as the saloon.
The engine is backed by the AMG multi-clutch seven-speed transmission, and there’s a subtle improvement in fuel economy with the ADR combined figure down to 10.2L/100km. The heavyweight coupe gets from 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds. Despite the increase in performance, the S63 AMG Coupe meets strict Euro VI emissions standards.
Rain looks set to hamper our launch drive, which will take us out through the Royal National Park and along the southern coast road into Wollongong, but we won’t let the weather dampen our spirits as we prepare to leave Sydney’s traffic behind.
The styling is the first thing you’ll take in whether you’re up close to the S-Class Coupe or it’s approaching from distance. Mercedes-Benz representatives told CarAdvice the designers wanted an exterior that looked like the vehicle was about to pounce. The coupe shares the sum total of zero body parts with the saloon; in fact the exterior mirrors are the only common items. The rear three-quarter view especially is imposing. The styling cue across the top of the rear windscreen harks back to the CL-Class and is a subtle nod to this vehicle’s recent heritage. Whichever way you cut it, the S63 AMG Coupe has a strong road presence.
The differences between the saloon and coupe are evident but subtle. The coupe is 90mm shorter than the saloon, identical in width, and a little lower overall with a 85mm reduction in height. The wheelbase is 90mm shorter, with the front track almost identical, but the rear track is 12mm wider. It’s that slight addition to the haunches that means the coupe has a visibly broader stance than the saloon.
Interestingly, the clever styling nuances ensure the S63 AMG Coupe doesn’t look as big as it is. Importantly, it doesn’t feel as big as it is from behind the wheel either. It genuinely shrinks around you the longer you drive it and it never feels ungainly. There’s no doubt — despite its long distance touring abilities — you could drive the S63 AMG Coupe every day of the week. There’s as much practicality as there is performance. Unlike some vehicles that sacrifice usability for outright performance, the S63 is a perfect blend of the two.
From the front, the coupe’s first unique feature is visible — if the buyer has ticked the rather extravagant option box that is. Mercedes-Benz is adamant that S-Class coupe buyers want to individualise their vehicle and the LED Independent Lighting System will allow them to do just that. Although, if every coupe buyer opts for the system it won’t really be that unique, will it?
The system is an aesthetic feature that is most prominent at night. Spend $4650 on the Night View Assist package and you have the privilege of being able to spend a further $5900 on a special package that adds 47 genuine Swarovski crystals to each headlight pod. 17 angular crystals form the flare-shaped daytime running lights, while 30 rounded crystals make up the turn indicators. You’ll notice this feature immediately; with the way the crystals refract the light ensuring the coupe has a distinctive visage.
Inside, either from behind the wheel or in the passenger’s seat, the coupe is significantly different to the saloon. Aside from the exceptional twin screen arrangement for the main gauges and command control, the rest of the dashboard and seating is completely different. There’s a heavy scallop on the passenger side of the dash, which changes the view ahead completely and adds room to the left side of the cabin. It’s a dramatic design feature that is both attractive and functional. Even the steering wheel is unique to the coupe.
The cabin is stunning. It’s both beautifully designed and executed. Sumptuous leather, polished alloy, subtle gloss poplar wood trim, every element is finished to perfection. The front seats somehow manage to feel both comfortable and sporty.
There’s also a hot-stone massage function, not to mention the adjustable bolsters, which hold you exactly where you want to be positioned. The coupe affords second row room for adults, but not the extravagant leg and reclining room offered by the saloon — and that’s the point — the coupe will be purchased by buyers who require only occasional second row seating.
From inside the cabin, the coupe’s second unique feature is immediately visible. The panoramic glass roof — with what Mercedes Benz calls ‘magic sky control’ — lets a great deal of light in with the curtain retracted, delivering an air of space to the otherwise compact cabin.
It’s a large, fixed single glass section and the sunblind retracts at the touch of a button. The rear third of the roof section behind the glass panel is finished in body colour. The optional magic sky control system isn’t cheap at $8500, but it introduces controllable transparency. In ‘on’ mode the glass is clear and transparent like an untinted pane of glass. In ‘off’ mode, you’re effectively removing the electric charge from the panel and the roof goes dark. It then blocks up to 99 per cent of incoming light. Another bonus is the fact that it may reduce the cabin temperature by up to 10 degrees.
Press the start button and the AMG fettled V8 barks to life and settles into a menacing idle. It’s quiet on the move though, never outlandish at city speeds either, with little hint to the nastiness of the power that lurks with every prod of the right foot. This duality of character remains central to the appeal of any AMG model.
Cruising out of Sydney, we note the comfort and quietness of the whole experience — something I think S-Class buyers will expect regardless of model or performance potential. Make no mistake though; mash the accelerator pedal and the S63 AMG coupe will pile on speed with consummate ease.
As with the saloon, the adaptive suspension with Magic Body Control reads the road ahead and delivers ride comfort few other vehicles get close to replicating. Road and wind noise is effectively non-existent at any speed up to freeway speeds and you’re genuinely insulated from the world around you behind the S63 AMG Coupe’s wheel.
At very low speeds (like you’d experience crawling in traffic) there can be a shudder and a slight hesitation as the gearbox shifts down into second. It’s not deal breaking, but we noticed it – perhaps the sportier tune for the AMG variant has sharpened up the whole gearbox functionality. On that, we also notice that in full auto mode, the seven-speed transmission never drops into first, opting to start from a standstill in second. That slight hesitation at low speed is the only tangible negative I pick up on during a full day behind the wheel.
We’ve experienced the Magic Body Control system before, but what we haven’t had the chance to test is the coupe’s third, and perhaps most intriguing, unique feature. Mercedes-Benz calls it ‘Dynamic Curve Mode’ and it’s available only on the coupe, which goes some way to explaining the differing driving dynamics between the coupe and saloon.
Selectable via the drive mode button on the centre console, Dynamic Curve Mode is active between 50 and 180km/h. The S-Class Coupe will lean into corners by up to 2.65 degrees as you tip into the corner. In theory, the system should settle the big coupe into harder corners and make for more certainty at speed. In truth, the rain and slick road surfaces meant we couldn’t really push hard enough to feel the system at work. What we did notice though was a discernible difference in the steering coming from the inside wheel in the middle of the corner.
Dynamic Curve Mode is separate to Sport mode too, which stiffens the suspension, sharpens the steering and optimises gearshifts. Having recently driven the S600 saloon, there’s no doubt the coupe is a completely different car to the four-door in a driving sense. The subtlety of character is different, the coupe is sportier, sharper and more driver focused. The exhaust note is more prominent as well thanks to an infinitely variable flap within the exhaust system, which releases more of that glorious V8 engine note. I can only imagine the sound track you’ll get if you opt for the S65 AMG Coupe.
900Nm is enough torque to make any vehicle move with genuine speed, so the S63’s ability to pile it on didn’t surprise us. What did raise our eyebrows though is the agility of such a large car. The S63’s sporting heart is evident as soon as the road gets twisty. Our favourite drive option was Dynamic Curve Mode and allowing the transmission to look after shifting. It’s so sharp and precise on the move, there’s little desire to worry about using the paddles.
The S63 AMG Coupe is an exceptional car. Of that there is no doubt. It’s designed to appeal to a specific type of buyer, who has deep enough pockets to afford the car, and add some expensive options as well. Features like the Swarovski crystals won’t make much impact on blokes for instance, but their ‘better halves’ will love it. It all adds to the sense of theatre.
If you’re an S-Class owner, or if you’re thinking of stepping up to an S-Class but don’t really need four doors, take a close look at the S-Class Coupe. The S63 AMG variant that we’ve tested here is probably the sweet spot of the three models too, with performance, exclusivity and poise in equal measure.