2008 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Review

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2008 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Review
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Mercedes-Benz has been on a roll lately. With impressive technologies such as the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and cleaner diesel engines being used throughout the lineup, the German automaker makes a strong case for your greenbacks.

The S63 AMG is the middle of the line S-Class in performance and price with a 518hp V8 and an MSRP of $132,000.

FAST FACTS

1. The S63 AMG is the middle of the line S-Class in performance and price with a 518hp V8 and an MSRP of $132,000.

S63 EXPANDS S-CLASS RANGE TO FIVE MODELS

At the high end, the award-winning flagship 2008 S-Class family includes five models starting with the S550 RWD and 4Matic AWD 5.5L V8-powered models. At the top of the range are a pair of twin-turbocharged V12s – the S600 and S65 AMG – respectively. A 5.5L V-12 in the S600 makes 510 hp and 612 ft-lbs of torque while a 6.0L 12-shooter makes 604 hp and 738 ft-lbs in the S65.

"Smack dab in the middle of the range is the S63, but don’t let that fool you. It may “only” have a V-8, but with a displacement of 6.2-liters, this sedan can move – despite a 4,663-lb curb weight.

IMENSELY POWERFUL V8 ENGINE PROPELS LUXU BARGE TO 60 MPH in JUST 4.5 SECONDS

Featuring high-strength silicon-aluminum alloy construction, four-valve-per-cylinder technology, variable valve timing, bucket-type cam followers (no rocker arms), a variable intake manifold and twin-wire-arc-sprayed cylinder bores (a new coating process that cuts friction and hardens the running surfaces), the engine’s output is 518 hp and 465 ft-lbs at 5200 rpm. Mated to a seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic transmission with AMG's Speedshift, the S63 is designed with high-performance driving in mind. It takes 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph – a full second faster than the S550.

A stout AMG brake job sporting large composite discs on all corners, front twin sliding calipers, ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution helps the hefty saloon stay composed during spirited driving. It needs just 188 feet to reach a halt from 60 mph.

As on its V12 cousins, the S63 AMG has Active Body Control technology that minimizes body movement when accelerating and braking. As a result, the chassis is highly compliant and more willing to stay flat through turns.

The systems keep the driver informed in real time, but the heavyweight still requires proper inputs to carve that next turn.

The S63 AMG rides on special 20-inch light alloy wheels shod with 255/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Pirelli P-Zero tires. It also gets a meaner front fascia with larger air intakes and chrome-ringed fog lights under the standard active bi-xenon headlamps with washers and cornering lights.

INTERIOR LUXURY KNOWS NO BOUNDS

Inside the S63 AMG, the driver gets a Direct Select gearshift and heated AMG steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles. The leather dashboard features glossy wood trim, aluminum accents and a digital LCD instrument cluster. The sizable power sunroof set within the Alcantara suede roof liner and exclusive IWC Ingenieur analogue clock are nice touches.

Sixteen-way electric leather sport seats are standard, but my tester had optional Drive Dynamic seats that counteract G-forces by adjusting the torso bolstering pneumatically. They also offer four levels of pulsating massage.

Back seat passengers enjoy copious head and legroom, pneumatic rear headrests, a power retractable rear window sunshade and rear door-integrated roller window blinds. A premium rear seat package adds electric adjustable seat backs with memory function.

POSITIVE

Pleumatic side bolsters in Drive Dynamic seats

NEGATIVE

Lengthy stopping distance

More standard interior features, like the COMAND (Cockpit Management and Navigation Device) APS system, PCMCIA card slot for mp3 playback, Harman/Kardon surround sound system, Sirius satellite radio plus Thermotronic automatic climate and Linguatronic voice controls, for instance, make driving or riding in the S63 AMG like nothing else.

THE VERDICT

At $132,000 the S63 AMG is no bargain. It is, however, significantly less expensive than its V-12 siblings. Considering all the amenities offered, plus and engine that has power to spare, one must applaud AMG for building a mid-range S-Class and somehow doing so without compromise.

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