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The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+

Words by Ken Pearson 

 

In 2004 the world saw the first of a new breed of four door coupé: the CLS was born. The world saw that it was good. Other manufacturers did too. The recipe was quickly picked up and before long, the horsepower war being waged between the brands that had taken medium sized saloons to supercar levels of performance started to be waged on this new battleground in the market.

 

There have been countless different ingredients, recipes and methods cooked up by the chefs of the automotive industry to serve their takes on the Grand Tourer for the 21st century. From four to twelve cylinders, naturally aspirated and forced induction engines, pure combustion power, plug-in hybrids and electric propulsion, two and four wheel drive…the list goes on and on.

 

However, only one manufacturer has been brave enough to give its four door performance coupé the same name as its flagship sportscar; in 2017 AMG announced that joining the two door GT Coupé and Roadster would be a new model with more doors and more seats.

 

Allow me to introduce you to the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+. Let’s start with the similarities:

• The “AMG” “GT” and “V8 BITURBO” badging

• The appearance of a three-pointed star on the nose, tail, wheels and steering wheel

• The M178 4.0 litre biturbo V8 (to an extent)

• The key

• A large petrol tank

 

Now for what the two cars don’t share:

• Pretty much everything else

 

The list of differences would go on for quite a while. So if they have a different chassis, drivetrain and even an ever so slightly different variant of the same engine how do they share a name?

 

GT means Gran Turismo or Grand Tourer. The nature of a Grand Tourer is to be a sports car exquisitely capable of travelling long distances at high speeds with a great degree of luxury.

 

GTs used to almost exclusively be front engine, 2+2 seater, rear wheel drive coupés yet over the years the definition of a GT and where it is appropriate to affix the term has changed greatly; small hatchbacks with a rear spoiler have received GT badging for some reason but for the real GTs, and indeed the essence of what makes a GT, the variations have become even more varied. The birth of the CLS four-door coupé paved the way for what I now have the keys to: the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ Premium Plus (with Rear Luxury Lounge) four door coupé, or the GT 63 S/GT-four door for short.

 

  

 

Let’s answer the first question: Is it actually a GT? Well, yes.

 

Question two: Should it be an AMG GT? Allow me to explain.

Along with the attributes of comfort, performance and luxury, a true Grand Tourer must be eye-catching and distinctive; it’s got to make a statement yet not come across as grotesque or too in-your-face when it reaches the end of your journey. It should attract attention but not the wrong kind of attention that would make you worry about whether the wheels would still be on the axles when you return to it.

 

How does the GT 63 S fare here? Rather well, I think. Starting on the interior there is room to stretch out and relax on both rows; all four seats can hold an adult on the taller end of the height spectrum like myself. The roof does arch down gently and the rear seating position is relatively low meaning there’s generous headroom all around – of the rear bench configurations for the model, Rear Luxury Lounge option provides additional storage and a fixed central armrest and stowage compartment, temperature controlled cupholders and an infotainment display for rear passengers.

 

The fit and finish is sublime whilst the material and colour choice is well balanced with the 3D shape of the dashboard that guides your eye around the cabin as you enter. Your eyes will inevitably drop down to the high centre console with the gear selector and touchpad for the MBUX infotainment system that is flanked by eight vehicle control buttons. Why eight? Look down from above and you’ll see they mimic the layout of a V8 engine. It’s small touches like this that make a car feel special to me.

 

The MBUX infotainment system is something of a known quantity now after launching in the A-Class in 2018. It has since appeared across the passenger car range and even the Actros HGV uses a modified version of MBUX. 

 

As pretty, crisp, clear and intuitive as the system is the chances are that you won’t be looking at the twin displays for very long. You probably won’t even look down at the DYNAMIC SELECT dial on the steering wheel – you’ll just know that two clicks to the right is Sport + and pressing the display sets your Individual setting.

 

The interior alone is worthy of a GT name as you could spend a London to Berlin drive’s length of time taking in the architecture of the cabin.

 

  

 

 

Yet, I doubt you will – especially if the car is fitted with the head up display delivering all the information you need within your line of sight.

 

Firing up the engine announces the intentions of the GT. The hand-built twin-turbocharged V8 delivers a very healthy 639 hp and 900 NM to all four wheels through AMG’s 9-speed transmission. Those are big numbers on paper yet none of the paper that I’ve come across has actually been powered by this magnificent motor. As is required by law (or at least it will be when I rise to power) the AMG Performance Exhaust is in the POWERFUL setting. Yes, the two options genuinely are moderate and POWERFUL – another nice little touch from AMG. Knock the gear selector back and you are away.

 

The on-road temperament of the GT 63 S is much more relaxed than the swelled arches, muscular power domes and menacing, borderline evil looking front end design would imply. Getting a glimpse of the car from afar is enough to know that it means business. Even as they take their time to warm up, there is not a moment of hesitation when heading towards central Milton Keynes nor a split second of slip from any of the marvellous Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres that shroud each wheel. These tyres could make any car a hero but in this setting they are the bass player keeping the rest of the band in check. 

 

 

  

 

Getting into a rhythm with the GT 63 S takes a few minutes, admittedly. The car will readily offer up more grip than a sticky tape factory before encouraging you to take another step into the car park sized traction reserves it has to lean on. The brakes deliver immense stopping power at or from any speed but do take a few entries into roundabouts to get the smoothest application nailed.

 

Four wheel steering comes into play here too; at speeds up to 62mph the rear axle turns in the opposite direction to the front and reduces the turning circle whilst making the turn-in even sharper. Think of the way that a squirrel can change direction when it’s torn between getting another ripe acorn and escaping certain doom and that will give you an idea of the agility that this 5 metre long athlete possesses.

 

Above 62mph the rear axle turns in the same direction as the front and increasing stability at high speeds; the car simply floats between lanes on a dual carriageway. The first few sharp turns below 62mph see the steering being unwound just a touch as I make a bee-line for a high kerb. These 21 inch multispoke wheels are not to be scratched. After a few minutes of the car telling me it has more to give it’s time to flex my right foot and find out what that performance translates to on the road.

 

******* ****! Or put it this way: Look at the horizon, plant your foot down, count to three. You are there. Count to three again. You are now in Wales.

 

Unleashing the potential of that sensational engine is what I imagine riding a rocket heading to the international space station is like, although in this spaceship you are fed a cocktail of baritone barks, snarls, pops on upshifts and words coming out of your mouth that you didn’t know you could say as you are pinned into the exclusive nappa leather seat which continues to deliver a high intensity hot relaxing shoulder massage. These contrasts are like nothing I have experienced before in a motor car; nothing else can or has come close since.

 

The car reaches 62 mph from rest in just 3.2 seconds and the relentless performance just seems to build and build thereafter. However, what is more impressive is how at the drop of a toe the GT 63 S goes from 9th to 3rd gear before steaming ahead with the laser-guided focus of a cruise missile.

 

Standing starts and straight lines are entertaining enough, however, this car belongs on the roads between cities rather than the ones in them. Along a stretch of tarmac that I know like the back of my hand the GT and I begin to move as one. The chassis feels like an extension of my thoughts – ignore the fact that it takes an arm to move the steering wheel: it is telepathic. We are glued to the ground with magnetic levels of grip from the now warm Michelins yet carving our way through the rolling hills of the East of England in the same way that an F-22 Raptor rips and roars its way through a liquid blue sky. It is baffling, reassuring and hilarious.

 

Rising up through the gears making enough noise to insult those that value the “village peace” is addictive. Likewise, the seemingly random pops and thunderclaps emanating from the quad rectangular exhaust tips result in one thing: uncontrollable giggling. No two downshifts are quite the same – sometimes a pop, other times a rumble of thunder that sends sonic booms through the cabin before heading towards whoever is lucky enough to be behind you to enjoy the aural sensation.

 

It’s got quite the personality to uncover and the car certainly rewards you when you build up the trust level with it. Personally, I rather enjoy making large cars move in ways that you wouldn’t expect them to but the GT 63 S on this road feels at home, as though it is a cow that hasn’t seen fresh grass all winter and has just been released to devour the pastures before it. The excitement that this car transmits to you as the driver when it gets in its stride is genuinely palpable. 

 

  

 

 

Miles of uninterrupted twists, turns, straights and sweeping curves follow but before I know it, the end of my journey is near. I sample one more taste of that simply mind-altering (more on that later) acceleration up a slip road before a stretch of dull beige concrete motorway. Now it’s time to test the GT part of the car’s name and, finally, time to turn on the Burmester surround sound system well over an hour after setting off.

 

As tends to be the case with cars like this the ride is best when it’s at motorway speeds. Whilst it is no S-Class in terms of gliding over the imperfections of the road surface, the GT settles into a smooth stride and changes its tune entirely. It can start to be appreciated for what it is: a true grand tourer, somewhere to spend quite a few hours in and somewhere to relax and enjoy the drive even if it’s along the same stretch of road you are often thankful to get away from in the evenings. The engine which could be clearly heard and felt from Sussex just a few moments ago is now quietly turning at barely 1200rpm in 9th gear.

 

Cruising gives me time to think and time to catch my breath. Time to laugh and wonder what sort of witchcraft this car is using to make the kerb weight seem like an arbitrary figure that needed to go in the brochure just to take up a bit of space.

 

I say again, I’ve never experienced anything like it. The GT 63 S is one of those exceptionally rare cars that sticks in the mind long after you’ve hung up the keys. The only other cars that I consistently rant and rave about to a similar degree are the AMG A 45 S, AMG CLS 53 and the new generation S-Class; after hundreds of cars and thousands of miles have been driven in the last few years, the fact that I can recount every detail of the journeys I’ve had in this small selection of drastically different cars should speak volumes.

 

At the end of the journey I realise that I’ve answered every possible combination of questions I could think of about the car – once I’d caught my breath and looked at the thing saying WOW over and over, that is.  

 

  

 

The GT 63 S delivers performance that 25 years ago was the reserve of 7-figure supercars, yet its ability to turn from a relentlessly fast, devastatingly capable destroyer of worlds to a quiet, refined, comfortable cruising massage chair at the flick of a switch is baffling. It’s like looking at your pet schnauzer, blinking, then finding a wolf sitting in front of you. Mind: altered. Altered to the point where I found myself utterly lost for words in English, Icelandic, Spanish, French and German. For someone who finds it hard to shut up about cars this effect is quite something. That is the effect that the GT 63 S should have on you.

 

If it doesn’t then quite frankly you’ve not even scratched the protective cover of the surface of what this car is capable of. Get back in the car and drive it properly – you can thank me later in either English, Icelandic, Spanish, French, or German. Or a gaggle of all those languages together in a random order.

 

This drive taught me that there is such thing as the right amount of performance which just so happens to be 639 hp and 900nm in this chassis. This is the only car that I have ever driven and thought that it wouldn’t benefit from a performance boost. Clearly, Mercedes-AMG thought otherwise and have developed the GT 63 S E-PERFORMANCE plug-in hybrid with an additional 204 hp and 300 nm from its petrol/electric powertrain. Needless to say, I am itching to try it.

 

But until I get the keys to the next generation of performance, let’s answer the question: should the GT 63 S be an AMG GT?

 

Yes. Oh yes. 

 

Words by Ken Pearson.

Images from Mercedes-Benz UK Newsroom: https://mercedes-benz-media.co.uk