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Autos

Mercedes-Benz S63 is performance in luxury-car clothing

RON MOORHEAD, Special Sections correspondent Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 26, 2013 at 02:40 PM

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AMG, the high-performance arm over at Mercedes-Benz, has a long history and heritage of building racing cars along with fantastic road automobiles. Today, AMG gives us a gamut of fine, robustly engineered vehicles that combine the luxury of Mercedes-Benz with the racing pedigree.

I recently spent the week with an S63 sedan that not only gave me hours of enjoyment but garnered plenty of attention from enthusiasts as I motored along. The sleek body is less sedan-like than other four-door automobiles and the power from the AMG modified V-8 engine is just short of supersonic.

The 6.3-liter (why the 63 is after the S on the trunk lid) V-8 engine produces a mind-boggling 518 horsepower and 465 pounds-feet of torque, all without the aid of turbochargers or superchargers. This is raw power at its best because it seems to all go to the road surface with little wastage.

When I needed to pass a slow moving truck on a mountain road or merge into the traffic of a typical freeway, I just tipped the throttle slightly and the S63 jumped to the task without loud-booming exhaust or shuttering drive train. It is one of the smoothest 500-plus horsepower vehicles I have driven.

As it is with all AMG models, the S63 AMG wears special body styling cues that give the car a distinctive and aggressive appearance. Large functional air intakes below the front bumper increase cooling to engine and brakes. The additional cooling is needed for the anticipated braking of the high-performance system at each wheel. At maximum speed, the huge brake rotors and bulging calipers bring the S63 AMG to a smooth and controlled stop.

Contoured side skirts give the AMG modifications away to the unsuspecting, and lead the eye of the beholder to the rear of the car where the valance presents twin tailpipes that give this AMG model a distinctive exhaust growl.

Under the sporty body sits a suspension system that is representative of the increased power offered by the potent engine. This agility is enhanced by the large, staggered 20-inch wheels and tires. Noticeable during my test was the compliance offered by the suspension system while at the same time it supplied a higher-than-anticipated level of handling ability.

The S63 is equipped with Mercedes-Benz's ABC active suspension system, which combines hydraulic, electronic and mechanical components in a suspension that significantly reduces body roll, acceleration squat and braking dive.

For a large sedan, the S63 AMG surprised me and a few unsuspecting sports car owners during a mountain back-road drive. This car handles like a much smaller and agile vehicle. For the less-skilled, Mercedes includes a re-engineered ESP stability control system teamed with ASR traction control that assists the driver in retaining control of the vehicle even during emergency maneuvers.

The aggressive and sporty abilities do not circumvent the luxury expected of an S-class Mercedes-Benz. The interior is inviting and comfortable beyond the norm. Lighting at night illuminates important controls to enable easy operation. The seats are draped with supple leather that holds you firmly in place while coddling your body.

The S-class 63 sedan is a wonderful automobile in its own right, yet the levels of luxury, power and excitement are heightened beyond expectations when AMG adds its modifications. This much fun in a luxury car must certainly be illegal in some municipality somewhere in the world, though I cannot think of where that might be.


Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at ronmoorhead@hotmail.com.

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