Classing It Up
The Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe is worthy of its flagship name.
The term S-Class is a shortened and anglicized version of Sonderklasse, which in German means “special class.” In addition to “special,” the S could also stand for “safe,” “serene,” or “sumptuous”—each of which describes the Mercedes-Benz models that have carried the S-Class moniker since 1972, when the company officially applied it to its flagship vehicles. The name has lent the cars an air of superiority over the brand’s more accessible offerings.
The new S-Class Coupe is the first two-door Mercedes-Benz to bear the Sonderklasse designation since the 1998 model year, when the S500 Coupe and S600 Coupe (previously known as the 500 SEC and 600 SEC) became the CL-Class (Coupé Leicht, or “coupe light”). The return of the S-Class name promises a special experience for drivers and passengers of the new two-door models, and the S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe, a high-powered variant that the company made available for a test-drive recently in New England, delivers on that promise.
The S63 AMG is the middle of three versions of the S-Class Coupe, which has replaced the CL-Class. It is priced at just under $161,000. The S550 4Matic Coupe is priced at just under $120,000, and the top-of-the-line S65 AMG Coupe costs about $231,000. The S550 Coupe debuted as a concept car in 2013 and was introduced as a production model last March at the Geneva International Motor Show. The S63 AMG Coupe was introduced a month later at the New York International Auto Show. All three versions are now at U.S. dealerships.
The S63 AMG Coupe displays many of the same design elements as the S-Class sedan, including the delicately tapered lines. But largely because of its shorter wheelbase, the coupe has a more aggressive-looking stance. Though each headlight contains 47 Swarovski crystals—17 for the daytime running lamp and 30 for the turn signal—the car’s overall form is restrained. The two AMG models are distinguished visually from the S550 Coupe by larger mesh-covered air intakes in the front apron with black airflow-channeling winglets. The higher-performance models also have a matte-chrome splitter and rear apron and sharply flared side sills with matte-chrome inserts.
The cabin of each is appointed with quilted napa leather, Alcantara, and expanses of smooth wood and cool-to-the-touch metal. The metal air vents, switches, and trim pieces are electroplated with what Mercedes-Benz calls a “silver shadow” material, which lends them a three-dimensional appearance.
Like essentially all Mercedes-Benz coupes of the last five decades, the S-Class Coupe models have no B-pillars, providing the driver and passengers with better sight lines. When the frameless doors are shut—gently with assistance from a soft-touch closure mechanism, or with a hard pull and a thunk—they form a seemingly impenetrable barrier of steel and dual-paned glass between the car’s occupants and the world outside.
The cabin is spacious and free of the clutter that an abundance of control buttons can create. Instead of pressing buttons and turning knobs to access the car’s electronics systems, you use the Comand wheel or the touchpad located in the center armrest. It can translate finger swipes into letters, numbers, or menu commands. The system works well for some tasks, such as adjusting the scale of the navigation screen, but changing the seat settings or switching audio sources requires a cumbersome scroll through multiple menus.
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