Driven: 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet

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When we project forward the idea of winning great riches through the lottery, there was always a dream car waiting at the end of the rainbow.

It used to be we only had eyes for a certain Brit of German parentage. But someone else has gained our attention. Say hello to the 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet.

Tell me all about it

In a case of the first time ever in its 48-year history, Mercedes-Benz introduced a high-performance four-seater cabriolet based on its flagship S-class platform. Using the same bones as found in the S-class coupe, it’s more, more, more of everything you’d want when the urge to go topless comes about.

Mind you, not everybody looks good going topless. There are exceptions to the rule including the Bentley Continental GTC and BMW 6-series Cabriolet. Another would be the S-class cabriolet on which this AMG vehicle is based. When that top can be dropped in under 20- seconds, at up to 31 mph, there’s the bonus. It’s powered by a hand-built (one man, one engine) AMG 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged (Biturbo) V-8 engine that produces 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque.

Power flows through the brand’s famous AMG SpeedShift MCT 7-speed automatic transmission, heading to the wheels through the AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The entire vehicle rides on an AMG-modified version of the Mercedes Airmatic adaptable suspension.

The S63 is equipped with a performance exhaust system complete with automatically opening exhaust flaps to enhance both the performance and sound parameters. While the Cab is in standard C (comfort) mode, it runs as a conservative cruiser. Placing it in Sport (S) or Manual (M) modes unleashes a guttural roar that appeals to the emotional side of a driver, regardless of whether they are sporting the X or Y Chromosome.

Zero-to-60 mph comes on in 3.8-seconds. Luckily, our tester included the high-performance carbon-ceramic braking system ($8,950) to help scrub off the extra speed. The best part: as it ships from the store, the S63 Cabriolet is good to an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph.

Structural rigidity is high on the S63 Cabriolet thanks to a more rigid unibody shell that utilizes magnesium bulkheads, forged alloy wheels and extensive use of aluminum throughout. The end-result is a vehicle that is nearly as firm as its hardtop relative.

In addition to the S63 AMG variant of our ride, the S-Cabriolet is also available as the S550 Cabriolet with a 4.7-liter, 449 horsepower twin-turbo V8, and as the AMG S65 with a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12.

Like it is

The AMG S63 Cabriolet is a gorgeous piece that utilizes trim techniques as found at the pinnacle of high-end boatbuilding. A multilayer convertible-top speeds access to the elements in 20-seconds, hiding itself under the trunk-mounted boot. What it exposes is the chrome deckrail that runs around the circumference of the opened cabin.

Throughout the interior, Burmester chromed speaker covers (part of a 24 speaker, 1,540-watt audio system) add to the brightwork, but we are curious why the company finds the need to advertise it as a “High-End” system. Isn’t the fact that it’s a Burmester unit makes it high-end, in and of itself? After listening, we think the answer is self-evident.

The tan designo-outfitted thrones (they are truly much more than seats) offer all the comforts of a top-shelf recliner in a home theater setting. Except those might not offer heating and ventilation the way these do. Oh, did we mention the Shiatsu massage functions, or the dynamic bolsters that clutch you in place while exercising your charge through grand sweeping turns that seem to be the S63’s birthright. Frankly, we think they are the best seats on offer anywhere. Finally, for al-fresco motoring when the weather turns chilled, our tester was equipped with Mercedes’ AirCap with wind-deflector and Airscarf neckwarmers that effectively urge you to leave your knitted scarves at home. But the climate system is much more than a typical HVAC arrangement. Twelve sensors and 18 actuators help to divide each seating position into its own climate zone. Solar sensors at the front and rear keep the blower levels correct to prevent windows from fogging up automatically.

Safety

Safety is also at the forefront of the Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet. In addition to such tried and true features as the Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition, Pre-Safe Plus for rear-end collisions, Distance Pilot Distronic, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive High-beam Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Attention Assist and Surround View System, the S63 is loaded, literally with a full-pyrotechnic roll-over protection system. Airbag sensors rigged to trigger in case of roll-over, send pulses to the roll-over protection system, which activates rollbars by pyrotechnical means.

Behind the wheel

Starting the S63 is an event in itself. A push of the starter button is all that’s needed to kick things over underhood. The 5.5-liter roars to life with an authoritative gurgle and then we urge the steering column-mounted gear lever into reverse. There was a time where we thought it a step backwards to move the lever from the center console back to the column, but now we are perfectly fine with the added real estate such a move frees up.

Underway, the S63 behaves like a boulevardier of old. In other words, it’s a classic that’s refined and unstressed by today’s worries, and able to start something within a moment’s notice. That moment usually occurs when the go-pedal is squeezed, resulting in a sudden blast of energy from under the aluminum hood. Think of it as the mechanical essence of a king cobra snake with hood in full flare, reared-up just before striking.

Make no mistake, the Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet is a big car. It is fully capable of corner carving on the Nordschleife, but seriously, why would you? We think the S63 Cab is more at home cruising around taking in the scenery, in the words of the immortal Chuck Berry, “With no particular place to go.”

Conclusion

It used to be that the ultra luxury grand touring coupe´/ cabriolet was limited to one brand. With the new high-performance Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet, it is now a bigger party. Get behind the wheel of the S63 Cabriolet, and you will soon feel like a robber baron, a Captain of Industry or even the King of the World.

By Mark Elias Courtesy autoevolution

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