Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupe and E 63 AMG S-3

There was a time when the local Mercedes-Benz Malaysia model range could be deemed playing it too safe, but that seems a lifetime ago. Conservative is certainly not the descriptor in use now for a company very much on a roll – the brand is introducing four more offerings this week, most expanding its so-called Dream Cars range.

One of the quartet adds to the AMG lineup here – we’ve seen the Mercedes-AMG GT S and the W205 AMG C 63 S, and now the S 63 AMG Coupe is the latest Affalterbach product to join the MBM portfolio. Initially, the word was that the E 63 AMG Model-S was also due to appear, but it hasn’t, and there’s no confirmation if it will (strangely though, the car is listed on the MBM website).

The other models that have been announced at an ongoing special preview in Langkawi are a new W218 CLS-Class variant, the CLS 250d diesel (not here yet, but coming), the E 250 Coupe as well as the definitive Mercedes flagship, the X222 Maybach, in its S 500 form (the S600, on order), but let’s stick with the range-topping C217 and W212 versions for now.

Both AMG models were sampled as during a specially-arranged, unscheduled drive ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and we took them out on a leisurely autobahn stomp to Cologne, a 400 km-long round trip. The day-long blast revealed both to be rather different propositions, even if they are cut with the same 5.5 litre M157 V8 base cloth, as Chris Aaron and I found out.

Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupe-1

First, a quick recap on the two cars. The S 63 AMG Coupe is the newer of the two, the top-of-the line C217 having made its debut in March last year. The E 63 AMG S, meanwhile, has been around for more than two years now, the car entering market service on the Continent in May 2013, four months after the W212 E63 AMG facelift was announced in January that year.

Going the AMG route has brought about additional exterior kit compared to the regular S-Class Coupe – there’s a new bumper design shaped in the same vein as the E 63 AMG’s, larger side sills and new 19-inch ten-spoke forged wheels, with a 20-inch option. Interior changes include a different steering wheel, new front seats, aluminium shift paddles as well as new graphics for the digital instrument cluster. As expected, plenty of AMG logos to be found inside the cabin.

For this one, the M157 5.5 litre twin-turbocharged V8 puts out 585 hp at 5,500 rpm and 900 Nm of twist from 2,250 to 3,750 rpm, easily eclipsing the 455 hp and 700 Nm from the 4.7 litre V8 found on the S 500 variant.

The mill is paired with a seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT transmission, an automatic unit with its torque converter replaced with a multi-pack clutch. The unit offers four drive modes, these being “C” (Controlled Efficiency), “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport plus) and “M” (Manual).

Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S-1

The S 63 is available as a rear-wheel drive offering or as a 4MATIC variant, and each comes with a different AMG suspension setup – the former gets Magic Body Control, while the 4MATIC gets a version of the standard AIRMATIC air suspension. The Malaysian-spec car, the only S-Class Coupe model sold here, is the rear-wheel drive version, and performance figures include a 0-100 km/h of 4.3 seconds for it (the 4MATIC version is a shade faster, at 3.9 seconds). Top speed is electronically-limited to 250 km/h.

As for the E 63 AMG S, it’s available in sedan and estate bodystyles, but if it eventually comes, it’ll be only the sedan version that’ll get here. Exterior dress-up bits include a high-gloss black front apron with silver-shadow splitter, side sill panels and rear trim strip with silver-shadow inserts and an AMG spoiler in body colour.

The car features 19-inch AMG Titanium matt grey alloy wheels, red brake calipers, and ‘S’ labelling on the boot lid. The evaluator came equipped with the optional AMG ceramic high-performance composite braking system available for the variant, as denoted by the presence of the “AMG Carbon Ceramic” logo on the callipers. The system – which features upsized 402 mm front discs – is 40% percent lighter, providing for reduced unsprung masses and enhanced driving dynamics.

Inside, there’s black nappa leather upholstery with grey contrast stitching, silver seat belts, an AMG emblem in the headrests, and AMG door sills with white LED illumination and an AMG instrument cluster.

Power output from the M157 found on this one is also 585 hp at 5,500 rpm, but torque is slightly lower compared to that on the S 63 at 800 Nm, which is available from 1,750-5,000 rpm. Despite this, the lighter car’s century sprint time is faster, the mark hit at 3.6 seconds. Like its fancier-looking cousin, the E 63 is also equipped with an AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speeder and features 4MATIC as standard, with a differential lock on the rear axle for better traction.

I ran the first leg out from Frankfurt in the S 63 AMG Coupe, with Chris Aaron – who was at that point representing a different publication before joining us recently – doing the run in the E 63 AMG S. Before long, the E 63 had disappeared, simply because extended roadworks along the route – and persistent rain – made negotiating the S 63 a tricky affair. Bulk is bulk, no better noticed on narrow passages.

Even when there were clear roads, I found very little inclination to push the car at every instance, which was rather unusual, given all that power on call. The car’s overall nature had much to do with that lack of urgency. It wasn’t that it was slow or didn’t like speed, because the S 63 is poised and accomplished at serious pace, but it felt very heavy set especially on midband take-up, progressive in its approach in getting to speed rather than being anywhere urgent or devilish about it.

As it turned out, my co-driver also ended up adopting the same approach, which was less stab and being more linear with regard to input, because the returns were better served in that fashion. The apparent lack of immediacy was offset by a high degree of isolation from road noise and fatigue, evident when bombing along in the E 63 on the return leg.

What was undeniable was the car’s looks – there were enough double takes from drivers along the journey to establish that point easily. Actually, the photos don’t really do the S 63 Coupe justice, because it really is quite the visual treat, and from just about every angle you view it from. As a boulevard cruiser, this one has all the right lines, but more importantly, has all the necessary presence. Whether it is worth the nearly RM1.5 million asking price is another point altogether.

Character-wise, the E 63 AMG S is a completely different proposition – there’s less sonic isolation, which amps it up for the driver, but it doesn’t just sound fast, it feels it across the entire spectrum. Comparatively, everything simply had more verve about it, whether blasting off from standstill or attempting maximum speed repeatedly. There was even a bout of Porsche 911 chasing on the autobahn, something that wouldn’t have felt correct in the S 63.

Gregarious would best describe the E 63’s nature, and that willingness to run is addictive, and not just in a straight line – the few twists and turns done at intermediate speeds (kept sensible by the rain) showed the platform to be capable of thrills. There wasn’t enough time and space to find out its threshold levels and corresponding fidelity when pressed, but the consensus among the group was that it would likely be more detached and less engaging than the BMW M5, its most obvious competition.

Still, not every driver or owner is going to explore these absolutes with great persistence, and viewed in more direct fashion, the E 63 AMG S has plenty of draw – its turn of speed is winsome, and in relation to that its emotional appeal is high, even if it’s dressed in the apparent plainness of the W212’s clothes. While certainly nowhere close to the S 63 in terms of visual appeal, it turned out to be the more captivating of the duo. In this case, substance is the one that seals the deal. Shame it’s not here.

Chris Aaron offers his view on the two 5.5 litre V8 AMGs:
There’s no place like home for these two monsters, is there? By “home,” we mean the autobahn, and by “monsters,” you guessed it, the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S and its more eloquent S-Class Coupe S 63 cousin.

As Anthony would have explained by this point, both of these cars feature the same 5.5 litre V8 bi-turbo engines, but tuned slightly differently from each other: the hotter “S” version of the E 63 here pushes a mind-blowing 585 hp and 800 Nm of torque, while the decadent S 63 delivers the same amount of horsepower, but has 100 Nm more. That’s right, 900 Nm of torque, all in.

Starting with my thoughts of the E 63 S, and I can tell you off the bat that its engineers had clearly spared little room for things like “emotional” or “sensual” athleticism. You’ll find no subtlety or forgiveness where its 5.5 litre biturbo V8 is concerned, and you best keep both hands on the wheel if you plan on braving the depths of its throttle — 0-100km/h takes just 3.6 seconds, mind you.

On an unrestricted part of the autobahn, yours truly managed a top speed of 280 km/h – no kidding – and was amazed at how effortlessly E 63 S managed to get there and back to 110 km/h in speed-limit enforced areas. This AMG doesn’t just do blasting up to ridiculous speed well, its AMG Ride Control electronically-controlled adaptive suspension keeps it unbelievably steady at high speed, while its beefy carbon ceramic brakes do very well to bring it all back down.

Without any track time, it’s hard for me to tell you what the AMG E-Class would be capable of in that realm, but in reality, I don’t think I’d want to go anywhere near a circuit with this – it’s not a lack of faith in the machinery, but more of a lacking desire to find out if this thoroughbred pedigree horse could stomach some rice and curry. That’s a job I’d personally leave to the likes of the BMW M5, given the chance.

Without dialling everything up to to “10,” the E 63 S is just as enjoyable to use as a daily driver. With the AMG Ride Control, it’s really up to you how you want the car to ride, and the different transmission modes allows you to tame the throttle and transmission to match.

Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupe and E 63 AMG S-2

Where the S 63 is concerned, there’s no questioning the exclusive appeal only an S-Class Coupe can command, everywhere it goes and to whomever it comes across – if you think it looks amazing in pictures, you wouldn’t believe how good it looks when it’s right in front of you.

Packing just as many horses as the E 63 S and 100 Nm of torque more, this S-Class Coupe is no slouch either, and is equally tamed by the available adaptive damping and drive modes. It has to be said, though, that the S 63 does feel slightly more sluggish than the E 63 S, largely due to the additional weight of the car – the S-Class weights 2,070 kg at the kerb, while the E 63 S tips the scale at 1,940 kg.

The S 63’s gains as sexier machine overall is offset by the fact that the E 63 S just feels like a car you’d rather drive everyday. In essence, it’s still a very practical E-Class that offers good manoeuvrability, four doors, and a sizeable boot. The S 63, on the other hand, is a car I’d much rather keep for a traffic-less weekend drive, and hide in a dungeon where no one else would harm it out of envy.

C217 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG Coupe

W212 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG S