First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Review by Michael Bettencourt, photos by Michael Bettencourt and courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Kitzbühel, Austria – Keep it at part throttle, and you’d hardly be able tell that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG 4Matic is a performance-oriented AMG model. That may be a positive or a negative in your book, depending on what you’re looking for in a super sports sedan. But mash the right pedal in this full-size-plus long-wheelbase S-Class, especially with everything set to Sport mode, and about 577 smoothly cascading ponies will quickly shove their sports sedan credentials against your chest – hard.

How hard? Mercedes-Benz claims four seconds flat from rest to 100 km/h, about 0.4 seconds faster than the shorter and slightly lighter regular wheelbase S 63 AMG that won’t be available in North America. Canada will only receive the long wheelbase 4Matic version of the ’14 S 63, which will start arriving at the same time as the new generation regular S-Class models in November, with some demos trickling in before that.

All that power comes from a 5.5L turbocharged V8, a similar engine to the one that powers the revised 2014 E 63 AMG sedan with the optional S-Model package (gee, wonder how it got that name?).  Though this top E 63 also boasts 577 hp, the S 63 still offers a healthier 664 lb-ft of torque, compared to the top E 63 AMG’s official rating of 590. On the other hand, the E 63 S-Model is lighter, so hits the benchmark 0–100 km/h run in a fleeter 3.7 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz figures.

Plus that same time is possible in the so-good-I-can’t-believe-it’s-offered-here E 63 AMG S-Model wagon, an effective all-wheel-drive rebuttal to why anyone would want a high-dollar “performance” SUV.

S 63 AMG shares the autonomous if nerve-wracking “first steps” of S-Class

First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMGFirst Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMGFirst Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Our direct stop after the Frankfurt motor show to sample the S 63 AMG took us to the mountainous and curvy backroads of Austria, which included two half-days of driving in and around the upscale ski town of Kitzbühel. The town is best known for hosting the annual “Die Streif” ski race, which is apparently the equivalent of the Monaco Grand Prix on the Ski World Cup circuit – just a lot more ominous sounding.

We can believe they receive lots of snow, because while there was a heat wave happening back home, we encountered non-stop rain the entire two days, as well as single-digit temperatures in the morning that made us glad the S 63 now comes standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive. Its low profile staggered tires (255/40/20s up front, 285/35/20-inch monsters in the back) always felt secure and composed, though it is possible to chirp them with a heavy foot.

First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
First Drive: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Click image to enlarge

Of course, all-wheel drive or not, as with anything with this much power and rubber this aggressive, you’d certainly have to switch to winter tires if you planned to run it all year long.

Like the regular S-Class it’s based on, the S 63 AMG takes the next few technological steps towards autonomous driving with its Intelligent Drive system. The system is meant to lessen the monotony of dense traffic by slowing down, stopping and commencing acceleration all automatically, while also being able to maneuver the car side to side in gentle bends enough to stay within its lane. The system can work without a driver’s hands on the wheel for about 15 seconds, but after 30 seconds, a warning chime sounds to remind drivers to take control of the wheel again, and the circuits “give you back” the steering wheel.

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