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2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 L performance review

By Dylan Campbell, 30 May 2018 Reviews

2018 Mercedes AMG S63 L review

E63 S powertrain, rear-drive and supreme comfort

This car, for many MOTOR readers whether they know it or not, would be the dream daily driver if those lotto numbers finally came through.

Thumping, torque-rich V8, rear-wheel drive, sumptuous interior and lovely ride, plus gadgets galore and plenty of interior space. Oh, and the way it looks will have even the most mouth-breathing of right-lane dawdlers veering hard left out of your way.

The S-Class is one Mercedes-Benz model that readily lends itself to the AMG treatment, and the Affalterbach revheads have just given their S63 another going-over.

The old 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 is out, as is its seven-speed automatic transmission, replaced with the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and nine-speed auto from the new E63 S. That means a tremendous 450kW and 900Nm, although unlike E63 S, the S63 L is rear-drive only, the all-wheel drive version available overseas is not engineered for right-hand drive.

Comparison: E63 S v M5

Mercedes-AMG has also revised the exterior styling and we think it looks mega on its 20-inch Y-spoke wheels, sitting low in a certain Russian oligarch kind of way. It’s just a physically large and imposing car in the metal, especially the long-wheelbase version that’s more than 5.2 metres long.

Inside, there’s the spacious, opulent S-Class interior we’ve come to know well since the car’s launch in 2013.

Two large, 12.0-inch TFT screens dominate the dash, containing satnav and infotainment on the left and tacho and speedo graphics on the right behind the steering wheel. The COMAND system’s graphics and user friendliness have been greatly improved since earlier iterations and are now almost enjoyable to use, and there’s an attractive new steering wheel.

Read more: Mercedes-Maybach S600 sells out in Australia

Although it must be said, with this generation Mercedes-Benz interior having trickled down throughout almost the entire range, the S-Class cabin isn’t quite as special as it first was. Still, there’s no taking away from the fact this is a lovely place to be, such that you might find yourself sitting in it in car parks or the driveway long after you’ve parked, if you’ve got nowhere else to be.

The ride is also exceptional, even if it’s not quite the bliss you’ve heard about with this generation S-Class, and if you’re after that, best get a lesser model, as the S63 L’s 40-profile tyres can occasionally add an edge that’s unbecoming of such a luxurious car.

But that’s AMG for you, and all is forgiven when the S63 L starts to show off the hooligan side to its personality, laying elevens from a standstill into second gear in Sport Plus with the reduced ESP Sport.

Of course, beyond that, the grunt is incredible, betraying what is an autobahn bruiser with monumental turbocharged mid-range. Yes, the S63 L is ballistic. The new transmission is also very responsive when you’re up it, and smooth when you’re not, even if it’s possible to confuse it into a clunk.

Pleasingly, the S63 L has the same engine note as the E63 S, a top-end snarl that moves away from the burble we’ve come to associate with AMG V8s. We like it; there’s even an active exhaust button, not very S-Class at all.

Tested and rated on MOTOR reviews

While the S63 L gets AMG’s new Track Pace lap timing app, this is one car that would feel completely flustered at anything beyond eight tenths on a racetrack, its natural habitat is the motorway. The S63 L feels like it wants to attack corners, but at the same time also forgets its size, keeping the driver busy managing its weight. This is definitely a long-legged cruiser happiest at higher speeds.

Of all the Mercedes-Benz vehicles that have received the AMG treatment in recent years, this is one of the most well-judged.

There’s something very AMG on-brand about the S63 L. It’s comfortable yet devastatingly fast. The way it looks is a little bit like it was milled from one solid block of German iron. There’s a sinister sounding V8, one that feels like it would send the S63 L into the world’s longest, easiest powerslides if you so wished. In that sense, it’s fun.

There are sharper luxury driver’s cars out there, but the S63 L is in its own way a dream machine for the daily drive – if you can afford it.

2018 MERCEDES-AMG S63 L SPECS:
Engine: 
3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 450kW @ 5500-6000rpm 
Torque: 900Nm @ 2750-4500rpm 
0-100km/h: 4.3sec (claimed)    
Weight: 2175kg 
Price: $375,000

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Like: 
Imposing looks; thumping V8; luxurious interior and ride; epic comfort levels
Dislike: 
Price; transmission selector stalk a bit dull; there are better driver’s cars