Throughout The Car Industry
Review of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet: Times Have Changed.
Times have changed. It used to be that as auto enthusiasts had to make a very difficult choice. Did they want luxury, or performance? Most younger, testosterone-driven males would almost always choose performance. They would revel in the harshness of a solid-axle rear end in their Z28, or the unabashed noise coming from their straight-piped Superbird, or watch as the soles of their tennis shoes melted to the firewall of their Shelby Cobra. It was considered a badge of honor for most red-blooded American males to get essentially beaten up by their car in the name of stepping up their performance just a fraction of a second. But, then, as those same red-blooded boys grew up into somewhat respectable adults and occasionally began to have families and careers, they began to want a bit more from their daily rides. Suddenly, or not so suddenly, those guys started enjoying the softness of a supple Cadillac suspension, or the poshness of a Buick’s interior, or the quiet demeanor of an Oldsmobile’s refined engine, and, over the course of time, the alacrity with which they celebrated getting pummeled by their cars faded, and, in its place, came a resignation. The young man became an old man, because he had to put his toys away and grow up. Speed was a thing of the past, and no longer could he tolerate the sacrifice his old Mustang or Corvette demanded, and instead gave in to the comfort of a bigger, and slower, car, but losing some part of himself along the way. And that’s how it went for decades.
Then sometime in the mid-to-late 1990s and even more so in the 2000s, things changed. Luxury car companies began to notice a growing demand from older men (and women). They were buying up the most powerful versions of their lineups, and that’s when the flood gates opened up. BMW had already had its M division, but they expanded their lineup to eventually include a performance version of nearly every model they made. Audi created their ’S’ line, which essentially did the same thing as the M for Bimmer. And Mercedes-Benz decided to start their in-house tuning, and call it AMG. These cars began to bridge the gap between the speed-crazy young man’s desire to really drive, and the older man’s need to be able to pick up a coworker and not have to explain why there was a roll cage in place of the backseat. These cars have steadily been increasing in both luxury and power for nearly two decades, and some of the options available today are enough to make almost anyone forget about that hot rod they had as a kid.
Enter the 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet: Here is a monstrously powerful, yet incredibly supple machine that just may have bridged the gap between those two worlds almost perfectly. Want luxury? How about a standard air-ride suspension? Or maybe 12-way power front seats that are both heated and ventilated, oh, and can also provide a massage. There is also an “Airscarf”, which is a neck-level heating systems that keeps you warm when you have the top down on that first sunny day in April. There’s also a cabin-air purification system, and a cabin fragrance system. Nappa leather, soft-close doors, and electronic trunk closer, as well as heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel to round out the royal treatment. The S63 comes, of course, with just about every conceivable safety and driving assistance technology there is available today. Parking assist, crosswind assist, collision prevention assist, attention assist, backup assist, surround view cameras, pop-up roll bars, adaptive braking, this car damn near drives itself. The power folding all-season top lowers in only 20 seconds and can be done at speeds up to 28 mph. There is even an extendable lip on top of the windshield that guides air over the cabin instead of letting it swirl around inside it and, if it’s chilly, ruin your afternoon. There are even features like an all-LED exterior, and get this—the headlamps can be accented with Swarovski crystals, just because… Why not? Clearly, this is not your father’s Oldsmobile.
Now, about that power you were missing from your youth? The S63 has it in spades. This monster starts with a hand-built, direct-injected 5.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes… are you ready for this? A staggering 577 horsepower and locomotive-like 664 pound-feet of torque. Backing up that nightmarish power is AMG’s Speedshift MCT 7-speed transmission that uses multi-clutch technology, and offers up three choices of performance mode: Manual, Comfort, and Sport. In Sport and Manual mode, upshifts are quicker by 30%, which takes all of 100-milliseconds, and downshifts are automatically rev-matched. That fast-acting transmission sends power to all four wheels using MB’s 4MATIC system, which makes the S63 incredibly efficient at turning all that power into useful thrust. And even at a hefty 4,850 pounds, the S63 flat out hauls. 0–60 mph rushes at you in a scant 3.8 seconds, while 0–100 mph takes only 9.6 seconds, and it zips through the quarter mile in a blistering 12.1 seconds @ 115.5 mph. Braking from 60–0 mph takes just about 100 feet exactly, and the S63 runs the skidpad to the tune of 0.91g; not bad for a two-and-a-half-ton convertible, huh? Sure it gets only 15/23 city/highway mpg, but it seems a small price to pay for a car that can do so much, so quickly.
The S63 Cabriolet may be the perfect car to bridge the gap between adulthood and adolescence. It wraps you in a warm, inviting, comfortable interior that makes you feel lavish and decadent even going to the grocery store to buy diapers. But, in the blink of an eye, the same car can blast off like a Saturn 5 rocket and pin you back into that soft Nappa leather while you embarrass that young punk in a Mustang trying to beat you off a green light. Of course, being a luxury car at heart, the S63 doesn’t come cheap. With a base MSRP of $176,400, you’re getting a lot, but you’re clearly also paying a lot. But what is the price of owning a car that gives you the best of both worlds that were once so far apart? No longer do men (and women) have to give up their youth and exuberance and replace it with mushy, lackluster resignation, and that is damn near priceless. Times has clearly changed, and changed for the better.
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