It might be time for some corporate sabotage. As in, Affalterbach sends an agent to our PCOTY testing to stuff a footy sock in the rear-situated airbox of a certain vehicle. Or spray the front tyres with Armor All, unplug a spark lead – just something. Anything.
For the third time now in fairly recent PCOTY history, a full-blooded Mercedes-AMG is our runner-up. In 2016, it was the AMG GT in third place and the C63 S in second, the Porsche 911 GT3 first. In 2017, the E63 S took home silver behind the Honda Civic Type R. And now, it’s the GT63 S 4-Door on the second step of the podium, probably about as happy to be there as Lewis Hamilton whenever he finds himself in the same place.
Of course, if this was a competition on pace alone, you’d be looking at your winner. The Cup 2 tyre-shod monster’s lap time of 1:29.5 was more than a second clear of the 911 Carrera S, itself an 11.5-second quarter-mile car, and one with a 500kg weight advantage.
The GT63 was also our drag strip king, its numbers of 3.16sec and 11.08sec better than any other car (recorded on separate days and locations because our timing gear threw a wobbly). Plainly, if all you cared for was numbers, you’d be looking at the top dog.
The GT63 S is so much more than numbers though. This is a mind-scramblingly fast, impressive and capable vehicle. The engine is what grabs you initially; the satisfying throb and snarl of its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8.
Then there’s the 470kW/900Nm, all-wheel drive acceleration that feels potent enough to get a small payload into lower earth orbit. Forget the Jesus handles, especially uninitiated passengers are gonna need adult-sized nappies.
And then there’s the chassis, just as memorable as that engine. Software that’s very smart and mostly invisible orchestrates diffs, brakes, adaptive dampers, rear-steering and all-wheel drive to make the GT63 S multiple cars in one.
Select the right mode and you’ve got agility and savage all-paw punch for tarmac rally stage-winning pace; press another button and you have a more playful rear-drive character but still with secure all-wheel drive traction; and then, of course, for track use there’s the sensational Drift Mode that doesn’t just lock the car in rear-drive but feels to manipulate the chassis to maximise rotation. Proving that German engineers are indeed just well-dressed hoons.
The GT63 S is a triumph of hardware and software, able to do things a vehicle that weighs 2045kg just shouldn’t really be able to do. And it’s a total drug on Cup 2 tyres.
So why didn’t it win? A few things. The NVH is unbecoming of a large luxury car, and our experience with so many other high-performance luxury sedans of this calibre suggests it just doesn’t need to be. It has multi-chamber air suspension but you’d guess it had soft coilovers judging by the ride quality. Also, it’s pretty pricey; an E63 S isn’t as ‘special’ or as fast, but it’s a very, very similar car and for $100K less.
Are AMGs doomed to finish second at PCOTY forever? No. The much-needed softening of the C63’s suspension suggests that AMG engineers are the listening type – something that will surely pay off. Just give it time.
We find the best of the rest on Performance Car of the Year 2020
2020 MERCEDES-AMG GT63 S SPECS:
Engine: 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 470kW @ 5500-6500rpm
Torque: 900Nm @ 2500-4500rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
0-400m: 11.08sec @ 203.43km/h
The Bend lap time: 1min 29.5sec
Dylan Campbell - 3rd
"Insane performance, not even just for a big car, but there is that too."
Louis Cordony - 2nd
"Way more than the sum of its parts. Bravo, AMG."
David Morley - =3rd
"I’d buy this for the grille alone. And then discover something wonderful every day afterwards."
Scott Newman - 2nd
"A new standard in four-door performance. Laughs at physics then kicks it in the shins."
Tim Robson - 2nd
"What… how… This thing shouldn’t be half as good as it is. Nothing but awe from me."
PCOTY 2020 Scoring