First drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe in the UAE
The CL-Class is dead. Long live the S-Class Coupe. Oddly enough, before two generations of the Cl-Class, Mercedes-Benz’s largest 2-door offering was indeed called the S-Class Coupe before someone in marketing decided the name change. However, the German carmaker has decided to simplify at least some of their model names, and therefore we have the all-new S-Class Coupe for 2015. We briefly drove the S 63 AMG Coupe, and it makes quite a first impression.
The S-Class Coupe is a handsome car, enhanced with more aggressive wheels and bumpers on this AMG version. However, don’t get this car in black — you can’t see any of the AMG body add-ons in very dark colours, and few gave this car a second look on the street.
Inside, rather than just plonking in the S-Class sedan’s cabin, the Coupe has its own style of dashboard and interior panels, with flowing surfaces and lots of stitched leather. There’s also two huge LCD screens on the dash and a myriad of buttons and stalks on the steering wheel and centre-console. You definitely feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, and we’re saying that without even having time to explore the options on the infotainment system that has massage, variable mood lighting and night-vision features hidden in there somewhere.
However, thanks to all its flamboyance and intricacies, some of the interior bits do feel fragile. There’s also some minor ergonomics issues, as rear-seat access is oddly tight for such a big car, the rear-side window on the passenger side can only be controlled by the driver, the boot-lid can only be opened from the inside when the engine is on, and the steering wheel blocks a large part of the digital speedometer. In the last case, the heads-up display comes to the rescue, and we suppose an actual owner could learn to live with the other quirks or dig up solutions to them in the on-screen owner’s manual.
The reason anyone would buy this car in the first place is that 5.5-litre turbocharged V8 engine, churning out 585 hp and a massive 900 Nm of torque. Sending power to the rear wheels via a 7-speed automatic, you’d think the tyres would go up in smoke at the slightest touch of the throttle pedal, but we left the ESP on throughout our brief sojourn within city limits, and it makes the car very easy to control without feeling intrusive at all.
In fact, in normal mode, the controls are reasonably responsive with less of the laziness that’s intentionally built into the S-Class limos in the pursuit of smoothness. The S 63 AMG is still easy to drive smoothly with a restrained right foot in sport mode, where the responses feel a fair bit more alive, even if still lacking in feedback.
The body roll is negligible and the grip limits of the extra-wide tyres are ridiculously high on long high-speed curves, but you can induce a hint of tyre-squealing understeer on tighter lower-speed corners, because a car this big is never going to skedaddle like a go-kart. So as long as you keep your expectations grounded in reality, you will actually be amazed by what the AMG-tuned coupe can achieve at most speeds.
And it goes through the motions in utter quietness and a generally smooth ride. The engine rumble is muffled as are wind rush and road noise. Bumps are flattened out as well as any luxury car, but sharper undulations can still be felt through the low-profile tyres, though never feeling harsh even in sport mode. Let’s just say your passengers will fall asleep pretty quickly, even the ones crammed in the back.
In terms of sheer technology and possibly even driving performance, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe has its direct rivals beat. That includes such luminaries as the still-decent Bentley Continental GT Speed, possibly the antiquated Aston Martin Vanquish, and at a stretch, even the Rolls-Royce Wraith. But we can’t help the feeling that, while being better than all of them, it still lacks the sense of occasion that this price-segment demands, when it pulls up in front of the Burj Al Arab. Maybe if you get one in silver?
For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Mercedes-Benz buyer guide.