It’s a two-door version of the biggest Benz
Day one: The S-class coupe arrives, looking massive and rather handsome. It’s dark and cold by the time I drive it home. Time to crank the heater. Mercedes is the only luxury car maker that doesn’t insist its climate control systems work in fiddly and pointless half degree increments. For this they should be applauded. Since it’s right parky outside, I also put on the heated seat. Sitting in unexpected traffic just outside my office I discover something remarkable. My back and arse are getting gently griddled, but so is my left arm resting on the centre bin. Better yet, the armrest on the door is also warm. Suddenly it’s a pleasure to be at a standstill. In fact, when the queue moves it’s a bit of a pain having to move one arm off the toasty leather in order to hold the steering wheel. West London is near-gridlocked, but this gives plenty of time to delve into the S-class’s sub menus, of which there are many. The best discovery is the massage function for the seat. Other cars have this, but it’s usually little more than rolling the lumbar support up and down your back. Not here. The seats have lots of little air pockets in them which inflate and deflate to poke and prod you in the torso with varying degrees of ferocity. It’s all rather pleasant. The traffic on the way may have been shit, but I arrive home feeling quite calm. And with hot arms.
Day two: Trundling across the city this morning, less distracted by the strange sensation of having a hot massage whilst in control of a moving car, it’s hard to ignore that there are few odd things about the interior. From where I sit the steering wheel blocks the top of the dials. Some of the buttons around the central control doodah are hidden from view. The headlight switch is at a funny angle so you can’t see which position you’ve got it in. Merc doesn’t usually drop the ball on basic ergonomics like this. Mind you, there are so many buttons the law of averages says some of them would end up in the wrong place. The rest of the interior is perfectly good, save for the lid on the storage hole at the bottom of the centre stack which has ‘Designo’ written on it in horrible font and a sensationally vile handle that appears to be made of crystal. Thankfully both disappear when you open the cubby hole’s lid, possibly to vomit into it.
Day three: My wife hasn’t seen the Merc yet. This morning she looks out of the window at it. ‘Oh, I LIKE that,’ she coos. She’s right, it’s a nice looking thing. I’d even say it was elegant, but for the snarly, aggressive front end. Parked behind my neighbour’s VW Up it looks like it’s about to eat it or mount it.
Day four: This, you may have noticed, is an AMG Merc and such things are usually quite noisy and mad. The S-class is a bit more grown up than that. Nonetheless, it starts with a stout but muffled V8 rumble. This is a nice way to begin the day. If you really clog it, the rumble comes back. You might also notice you’ll be travelling quite quickly. For a big car, you can fling the S-class around to a surprising degree. The steering has one of those variable ratio racks that gets much quicker after not much of a turn. It makes the car feel surprisingly lively. On the downside, the ride in a car like this should be sensational, and it isn’t. Which is a disappointment.
Day five: You know what this S63 is? It’s a big swinging dick of a machine. It says, yea I can afford a big car, but no, I don’t need the space inside. Cos that’s how I roll. Look, I’m smoking a cigar and it’s not even dark outside. Yea. Or something like that. In other news, on the way home tonight I put the massage seats into a very vigourous lower back jabbing setting and then had to turn them off because I could feel organs being moved around and I thought I was going to wet myself.
Day six: You would expect the S63 AMG coupe to be an expensive car. It is. It’s 125 grand. But not this press demonstrator. This press demonstrator has some options on it. Let me talk you through the highlights. There’s the upgraded Burmester stereo. That’s £5300. There’s the piano black lacquer interior trim. That’s £1060. There’s the AMG driver’s package that lifts the speed limiter from 155 to 186mph. That’s £2760, which seems a bit steep for a software tweak, even if you get driver training at the AMG academy thrown in. Finally, there are the upgraded LED lights with ‘the addition of 47 Swarovski crystals [to] provide striking visual highlights and emphasise the unique nature of the vehicle’. They’re £2860. I know, I know. Oh, and if you want the heated armrests, they’re 440 quid. Total cost of this test car: £155,115. Yowser.
Goodbye: I’m handing the S63 to a colleague so that he too can experience hot arms and the strange yet agreeable feeling of swooshing about the place while your seat fondles your kidneys. It’s a very civilised and pleasant way to get around. I liked it. And yet, for the same money you could get a Bentley Continental. Yes, it’s not as swishy and it seems to have the infotainment system from a mk4 Golf, but it has an innate sense of occasion built-in rather than brought about by adding technology. I suspect the S-class, with its gadgets and its optional headlight crystals, will play well in new money markets like China and Russia. In Britain, for this substantial amount of cash, I think I’d err towards a Conti GT Speed. Or, to put it in a motoring journalists’ metaphor kind of way, I’d rather have a modest room at The Dorchester than the biggest suite in a Holiday Inn.
The car talked about here is a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG coupe. It has a 5.5-litre twin turbocharged V8 engine making 577 horsepower and 664 lb ft. It can go from 0-62 in 4.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph (or 186mph if you pay extra). Without options, it costs £125,595. With options it costs more than that.