I was contemplating what analogy would work best in describing the AMG GT63S, several came to mind. If the band Pantera was also MBA Ivy League School graduates. Sexy Beast (very underrated movie) and as the title suggests. A German Hellcat.
Sexy Beast is apt because, well, the GT63S is a great looking car, and 0-60 in 3.3 seconds will grab your attention. It may have 4Motion, but in the wet, it will spin all four tires with ease. But it’s not a one-trick pony, this thing can dance!
Like Cowboy’s From Hell or Domination from Pantera, it has that fast ominous unrelenting drive. Yet it’s as quick, sharp, and refined as anything Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and Eugene Wright ever played.
However, I think the easiest one for everyone to comprehend is German Hellcat. It is a big heavy car like the Widebody Charger. Muscular like it as well. Also, THE SOUND! You KNOW when you hear a Hellcat. The same is true for this 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. It has that muscular sound as if it had the strength to shred the New York City phonebook.
Mean and muscular, yet elegant. A seemingly set of diametrically opposed descriptors, yet here, they come together. Still, the Mercedes does have some proportional issues to my eyes, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
From the front and front three-quarter view, the AMG GT63S has an aggressive appearance that looks purposeful. It’s here to do business and not waste time doing it. The roofline has a lovely French curve to it that then tucks nicely into the back end.
In profile is where the proportions are off for me. This car is LONG. The wheelbase is 116.2 inches and the overall length is 199.2 inches. For context, a Honda Odyssey has a 118-inch wheelbase and 205-inch overall length. Given the height of just 57 inches, there is a lot of metal between the wheels. Also, the placement of the front wheel is visually off. With the length of the front fender and it’s forward slope it isn’t symmetrically placed, nor is it forward enough or rearward enough for the overhang to look “right”
The rear portion of the profile works a little better due to the various lines and curves coming together. Though the rear overhang is rather large, like much of the rear end.
The rearview lets you see just how hippy the Mercedes is. While the lines and curves do taper back the difference in width between the greenhouse area of the car above the beltline and the wheel well area below the beltline are quite accentuated.
Mercedes started the modern version of these four/five-door coupes with the CLS series, however, five-door vehicles in the ’80s had a similar shape, they just weren’t called coupes back then. The GT63S may be the most successful and perhaps timeless of any of those designs. When it was new the CLS looked sleek and dynamic. Under the lens of today, it looks awkward. I don’t think you will ever say that about this Mercedes.
[Editor’s note: ]
Everyone’s favorite Spanish friend Al Cantara is found in abundance inside the GT63S. The seats, wheel, headliner, and door cards are all awash in it. There is a wide swath of carbon fiber across the lower portion of the dash that carries on to the upper portion of the doors. The center console is trimmed out in an aluminum-like finish that contrasts nicely with all the dark colors of this interior.
The steering wheel is thick but not overly so. Aluminum trim on the wheel provides a nice contrast. Controls on the wheel work well, though the touch-sensitive parts above the scroll wheels take a little getting used to. This capacitive touch rather than buttons is a coming trend I’m not a fan of.
Turbine style vents are a nice styling touch and their design does let you control with some precision where the air flows to. There are several other interior details where you see the turbine theme carried through such as the engine start button.
Many people will focus on the dual 12.3-inch screens for the instruments and the infotainment. There is a lot of continuous glass there, however, the displays do not take up all that real estate. Think first-generation iPad Air and you get a good idea of how much bezel area there is around it.
I believe that the trend towards the glass cockpit in luxury cars is not a good one. To me it cheapens the interior, here is why. Compared to actual analog gauges, digital screens are much less expensive over the long term. We see their proliferation coming in vehicles down market. Luxury carmakers need to think of their instrument clusters like watches. Would you rather have an IWC, Patak Philippe or Vacheron Constantin on your wrist, or an Apple watch? What is more special? Which looks more like someone cared about its creation? Which will still be in style ten years from now?
Sure the big screens are flashy and sexy right now. Sure you can customize them to some extent. But after two months it is no longer the new shiny thing, it’s just a commodity. Go look at the instrument cluster of the last generation Aston Martin Vantage and Vanquish. They look like jewelry. They will still look elegant and sophisticated thirty years from now.
The AMG Performance seats are quite good and very adjustable. These are seats that if you can’t find a comfortable setting, the problem is most likely you. The rear is set up for only two people, and those two people can be rather long-legged. With the sloping rear roof though much over 6’2” will likely run into headroom issues.
As the Germans like to do, it is overly complex to find things. Some adjustments are three or four layers down in the menu system. BMW’s are worse in that there is a lack of logic, to me anyway, of where submenus are laid out. With the Merc, it is not quite as bad.
You will need to spend some time with the user manual in one hand while you play with the system to become comfortable with it. It is not a system where it is all intuitive. Once you spend time with it you can find 75-80% of the items without too much bother.
If you just want music and navigation, then you can just stick with Apple CarPlay. If you want to dig into menus to change several settings, you will need to learn the Mercedes system.
The Burmester sound system was quite good, however, I didn’t find it outstanding. I had a variety of good quality FLAC files that I tried the system out with. Jazz, rock, classical, female vocal, and electronic were all run through the Mercedes system. If you are not supercritical, you won’t find fault with it. My take was that it just sounded like a good system, not a premium system. At this level, you should hear noticeable differences depending on the quality of the recordings and it wasn’t the case here.
On the road
Now to the part you care about. The Mercedes AMG GT63S walks right up to the line where it could be considered too stiff in ride comfort. I use my wife as a barometer because (a) she doesn’t care about cars and (b) she HATES performance cars that do not ride well. I asked her for her feedback. As long as the suspension was set in Comfort, she was perfectly happy with the ride. In Sport, on some of Metro Detroit’s lovely roads, it started to bother her.
There are several drive modes you can select from, however, the hot setup is to do a custom calibration where everything is in RACE or Sport and the suspension in Comfort. There you get all of the throttle response and engine noise you want without punishing yourself with overly stiff suspension. It is here where 90% of my driving took place. You can save your settings and just return them every time with the drive mode selector.
The AMG GT63S is a chunky beast as well. Curb weight is listed at 4,758 pounds. For context let’s circle back to that Honda Odyssey van again. Its curb weight is 4,500-4,600 pounds depending on the trim level. A Porsche Panamera Turbo S, that clocks in at 4,398 pounds. Despite all that, it feels nimble for that size and weight.
Chuck it quickly onto an on-ramp or off-ramp and it does not protest. What passes for twisty roads in this part of Metro Detroit the Mercedes eats up gladly. It is not a track day weapon, not would I take it to a track day. OK, maybe once. That is not its forte.
As a daily driver, it is fabulous, as you would guess. The steering had a direct feel, the rigidity of the chassis didn’t transfer harshness into that cabin. That is with some very short sidewall tires and the suspension is Sport. It was firm but not harsh. Pavement irregularities and potholes didn’t transfer into the seat and into your spine.
The rear hatch area is also quite cavernous. I made multiple trips to the Home Depot and hauled larger items with no issues.
Acceleration in the GT63S is just shy of brutal. With launch control engaged, step on the brake, floor the throttle and it comes up on the two-step. You can adjust the launch rpm from 3,500 up to 4,500 rpm with the paddles when you are up on the limiter. Let off the brake and you are pushed back HARD into the seat. The ferocity of the acceleration does not begin to let up until you cross into the triple digits.
This of course is due to 630 horsepower and 664 lb/ft of torque from the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. That torque number is good from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. Peak horsepower is flat from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm with the redline at 7,000.
The launch control system does have some safety systems built-in. The engine and transmission need to be in the correct temperature range and the wheel must be pointed straight.
Using the built-in performance app, I did back to back 0-60 runs in 3.3 seconds on not the best of pavements. I intended to take the Merc to the local dragstrip for a test and tune night to see just how quick it was. The built-in app here is pretty interesting in that not only will it do 0-30, 0-60, and 0-100, you can also build your own race track. If you have a loop you like to drive you can set it up as a track and time yourself.
Unfortunately, it rained on the two days the track had Test and Tune nights. In fact, it rained a majority of the time I had the car in for review. Only late on the last evening before the GT63S was to be picked up was I able to run acceleration tests on it.
What I can tell you is that with TC turned off in the wet, it will spin all four tires from a 30 mph roll.
When it comes time to stop the GT63S does so with authority thanks to the optional $8,950 Carbon Ceramic brakes. They are 15.4 inches in front and 14.2 inches in the rear. In “normal” driving they do not grab or squeak. The only time I did get them to squeak or howl was when I was driving in the wet and having some fun. Sitting in the car you could see the steam rise off the rotors when I came to a stop.
On dry pavement, I did have to jump hard on the brakes at near triple-digit speeds once. Between the Carbon Ceramic brakes and the Michelin Cup 2 tires, I don’t recall the ABS ever pulsing in the pedal!
I’ll admit my bias and say that I generally like Mercedes-Benz vehicles. I have owned two, and my ownership of both didn’t end well. My 300SD was rear-ended badly, and I’ve written about my E350 wagon here on Hooniverse. Given that, I’d buy one again tomorrow.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT63S is a special car. With a base price of $161,200 and an as-tested price of $199,505, it’s ownership is reserved for the one-percenters. That doesn’t matter to me. Spend ten minutes with this car, even before you hit the start button and you can see the attention to detail. Close the doors and you get the classic bank vault solid sound.
So many cars are all about 0-60 times and Nurburgring lap times, this car is about giving you the fastest luxury sport sedan experience. This is an all-around car, not a one-trick pony. If you are at all interested in the AMG GT63S or this body style in one of the lower power and trim levels, act sooner rather than later. This car is not long for the market. Mercedes knows they have too many vehicles in their lineup and will be trimming the number down over the next few years. The four-door AMG GT is on the chopping block.
That will make this a rare car, and that much more special. Maybe one day depreciation will take its toll and it will be more affordable. Who knows. If you have the chance, go drive one. And, if you have the means, go buy one!