Driven: Mercedes-Benz S 63 convertible

The Cote d’Azur was the perfect setting for EDGAR to put the roof down on Merc’s S 63 AMG 4-Matic Cabriolet.

Damien Reid November 6, 2016

Mercedes-Benz has not built a convertible version of its flagship S-Class in nearly half a century so the new S 63 AMG EDGAR drove for one stunningly fine day on the Cote d’Azur needs to be the new benchmark Riviera cruiser for future generations, if it’s to surpass the gorgeous W111 model of 1971.

This car is about carrying four adults in luxury and in fair weather with the roof down as often as possible in supreme comfort. Bentley and Rolls-Royce – look out – you have competition.

Priced at AED 781,000, our car included a few extras such as naked carbon fibre wing mirrors and splitters, a matt pearl paint job and, being the AMG 63, had the dinner plate-sized ceramic disc brakes hiding behind 19-inch alloys. 

To accommodate what is claimed to be the largest fabric roof applied to a current production car, the new open-top adopts a custom windscreen with greater rake and a more substantial frame for added rollover protection. 

It also receives a uniquely designed rear end with extra stiffening within the rear bulkhead, rollover structures designed to deploy from behind the rear seats, a tonneau cover that opens to reveal a large storage compartment for the roof and a longer boot lid. 

Before starting, it’s best to lower the roof first then press the button to open the exhaust valves for maximum aural pleasure. This is so you can drink in the sound of that luscious twin-turbo, 5.5-litre V8 firing up without the sound deadening distractions of a roof. It’s a magical way to kick off the journey.

Idling out of the chateau’s gravel driveway and down the narrow country lanes, its width was apparent, as were the low profile tyres meeting the rough edges of the road.

Once cleared of the town, the winding roads that meander between the French Riviera and the Swiss Alps were tailor made for this car with its near instant throttle response and mountains of power that you’ll never need to fully use.

As with the latest S 63 Coupé, the Cabriolet develops 577bhp, giving it 129bhp more than the twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 in the S 500 Cabriolet but 44bhp less than the recently upgraded twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 found in the S 65. 

Power is delivered to all four wheels via AMG’s seven-speed automatic Speedshift gearbox and a 4Matic four-wheel drive system engineered to provide a nominal 33/67 front-to-rear torque split. There are three driving modes to choose from: Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Manual.

Thanks to a new version of the Mercedes Airmatic air suspension that’s been recalibrated for the sportier driving dynamics of the S 63 AMG, its ride height can also be raised and lowered by 30mm making speed humps less of a headache without sacrificing optimum grip on the open road.

Despite its 2,110kg mass, the S 63 AMG soaked up bumps at speed with remarkable grace and perfect poise. Not kidney belt tight but not loose enough to bottom out either. Its torque curve is such that overtaking situations presented themselves far more frequently with a quick flick back one or two gears and then it might as well have bent time with the speed it rocketed past the slower moving traffic. 

On paper, Mercedes claims it gets from zero to 100kmh in 3.9 seconds which is half a second faster than the twin-turbo, 12-cylinder Bentley Continental GT Speed and tops out at a governed 250kmh.

It’s no sports car but it covers masses of ground in next to no time and what seemed like just a few minutes of fun later was actually about two hours and several hundred kilometres covered without so much as a bead of sweat raised from either the athletic pace of the drive or the sun on my head.

It’s been worth the 45-year wait as it takes Mercedes into new territory at the very top of the convertible tree.

Specs

  • Engine: 5.5-litre, twin-turbo V8
  • Power: 577bhp @ 5,500rpm
  • Torque: 900Nm @ 2,250rpm
  • Transmission: seven-speed automatic
  • 0-100kmh: 3.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 250kmh
  • Price: AED 781,000

mercedesbenzme.com