Mercedes-Benz’s new and mighty 6.3-liter V-8, built by performance division AMG, has slipped fully into the company’s product mainstream, seemingly powering everything Mercedes has to offer, from the SLK Roadster to factory forklifts.
With 518 hp and 465 ft lbs of torque to speed one’s travels, the 6.3 (which actually displaces 6,208 cc, but Mercedes prefers to round up to 6.3 liters) was the obvious choice for the 2008 S63 AMG, the V-8–powered performance version of Mercedes’ S-Class headliners. At $128,000, the S63 is less pricey than the $195,000, hairier, scarier, V-12–powered S65 AMG, but no lighter in terms of driver satisfaction, quickness, luxury appointments, and the status that comes from owning one of the consistently best four-doors on the planet, built by a company that pretty much invented the automobile.
The S63’s zero-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds is comparable to those of the sportier V-8 two-seaters from Aston Martin and Maserati, and it is only a blink slower than the Bentley Continental GT’s. That’s not bad for a sedan weighing well over two tons.
Better yet, all the S63’s feral muscle and punch, so exhilarating when the car travels in a straight line, is just as manageable on narrower roads that bend and curl. Steering is precise. Brakes are seemingly inexhaustible. A tighter suspension and flawless stability controls erase the waffle and plod and meandering that marred so many Mercedes-Benzes before AMG came on board.
The S63 displays none of the styling of yesteryear. It looms large, yes, but not lumpy. AMG’s aerodynamic cladding is tasteful, stylish, and befitting a big athlete. The vehicle’s interior features aluminum paddles mated to a 7-speed transmission, well-bolstered and upholstered sports seats, Alcantara suede and premium leathers, burl walnut trim as far as the eye can see, and the highest levels of everything, because this is, after all, a Mercedes.