Ul­ti­mate S-Class

V12 May­bach S650 | V8 S63 AMG Coupe


MERCEDES-BENZ ISN’T PAR­TIC­U­LARLY MOD­EST when it comes to de­scrib­ing the S-Class. ‘The best car in the world’ is thrown around lib­er­ally, ‘the epit­ome of the au­to­mo­bile’ has been men­tioned oc­ca­sion­ally and the last time it re­vamped the S-Class, the head­line of a press-re­lease stated it was the ‘au­to­mo­tive bench­mark in ef­fi­ciency and com­fort.’ A self-pro­claimed bench­mark, we would like to add — never take any­thing a man­u­fac­turer tells you at face value. We’ve driven it though, and we love it. It is the go-to limou­sine to be driven around in from your man­sion to the golf course with a quick stop by the of­fice to make sure the CEOs of your five com­pa­nies are bring­ing in the moolah.

What do you do if you’re the type with petrol in your veins and not just in your stock port­fo­lio? You find time to drive be­tween all that golf­ing and money-mak­ing! How­ever, the S-Class limo, as com­fort­able as it is, isn’t a car you want to be thrash­ing up a moun­tain pass. Mercedes-Benz’ in-house nut­ters, the AMG de­part­ment, have some­thing a lit­tle more suited for the job. Some­thing that will keep your rump co­cooned in lux­ury while still giv­ing you a lib­eral dose of white knuck­les and di­lated pupils.

Honey, I’ve shrunk the S-Class…

And stuffed a stonkin’ V8 un­der the hood. Mercedes-AMG has used the old­est trick in the book — horse power. Now, the S63 Coupe is still an S-Class, so it isn’t par­tic­u­larly light by any mea­sure. There’s no stripped out phi­los­o­phy go­ing on here, lux­ury hasn’t been com­pro­mised one bit. In­stead, you’ve got an engine de­rived from the MercedesAM­G GT range of cars to lug that weight around. The ‘hot-in­side-vee’ as they like to call it — a 4-litre V8 engine with two tur­bos nes­tled within the engine banks to keep them more re­spon­sive and ef­fi­cient. The engine makes 603bhp and 900Nm of torque. Just let that sink in for a sec­ond. More than what the AMG GT R makes, and that’s a proper un­hinged track mon­ster. You’re rolling around in an S-Class that will light up the rears if you floor it in third gear!

The S63 Coupe is a car that has di­chotomies built into its very DNA. But it doesn’t end up a mud­dled mess with no iden­tity, in­stead it is a car with a supreme breadth of abil­i­ties. You can point it down an ar­row­straight high­way, put it into com­fort mode and it will just swallow up the miles — the V8 bur­bling along to the tune of your right foot. You’d think a car with a 63 in its name and AMG on its bum would rat­tle your teeth out on our un­even roads but the sus­pen­sion ac­tu­ally takes it all in its stride. It wafts over bumps and only re­ally big ones re­mind you that the sus­pen­sion travel doesn’t al­low you as many lib­er­ties as the sedan. It’s Mercedes-Benz’s take on a grand tourer — a car that you can drive from Monaco to the south of Italy, catch a ferry across to Si­cily and still be ready to kick back with a bot­tle of wine and make in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion (or lord knows what else) with the mis­sus. If you’re sen­si­ble, you might even be able to do it without stop­ping ev­ery hour! The S63 has a clever sys­tem where it de­ac­ti­vates four cylin­ders (cylin­der two, three, five and eight if you’re nerdy about these things) while cruis­ing be­low 3250rpm and makes for a rather ef­fi­cient ma­chine. I’d know — my en­thu­si­as­tic use of the throt­tle dur­ing the course of this shoot meant not us­ing four cylin­ders and nurs­ing it back to a fuel pump be­fore it ran dry. How­ever, I can as­sure you that it is the most frus­trat­ing way to drive an AMG, and would not rec­om­mend it to any­one.

Tank up, click the drive mode se­lec­tor twice to slot it in to Sport+ mode and this car chan­nels all 52 years of AMG’s his­tory, and be­comes a cer­ti­fied tyre-shred­der. For once, In­dia gets the en­ter­tain­ing-spec — all right-hand drive mar­kets get it with rear-wheel drive only, while left-hand drive ones in Europe get it with all-wheel drive. Which means, you’re in a two-tonne luxe-barge that will go side­ways at will. Floor the throt­tle and it will hit a ton in 3.5 sec­onds. But in­stead of your head be­ing



slammed against some min­i­mal pad­ding that passes off as a head­rest in a bucket-seat, it sinks in to a rather soft one. These heav­ily bol­stered seats wrapped in quilted leather are cushy enough for when you’re tak­ing it easy but they’re also prop­erly sculpted to hold you when you are hooning around. Cor­ner hard, and the side bol­sters on the seat ad­just them­selves ac­cord­ing to the g forces ap­plied to hold you bet­ter. The com­bi­na­tion of lux­ury and per­for­mance is ad­dict­ing. It never leaves you wish­ing it was sharper in the bends, or more com­fort­able in the city. A few but­tons morph its iden­tity to what­ever you wish, and al­low you to play spoiled exec on the week­days and boy racer on the week­ends.

It even has rear seats! They’re a pretty sorry ex­cuse when it comes to space though, and any­one larger than a hob­bit will find it cramped. I’d rec­om­mend chuck­ing your gym bag or weekly gro­ceries in there, but that’s about it. If you want an S where you can close multi-crore rupee deals in the back­seat, you’re go­ing to have stick to the reg­u­lar one. And if that is too pedes­trian for your bil­lion­aire tastes, Mercedes will sell you some­thing even more ex­clu­sive. Some­thing called the May­bach.

You’re go­ing to need a BIG garage…

Be­cause where the S63 tight­ens up the S-Class, the May­bach does the op­po­site. It stretches it out, adds more space, more lux­ury and even more cylin­ders. The May­bach is about as far as you can go within the Mercedes fold when it comes to lux­ury — if it isn’t enough, you’re go­ing to have to get a Lear­jet. What you’re look­ing at is the MercedesMa­y­bach S650, the more ex­pen­sive of the two May­bachs on sale in In­dia, and the one you should be go­ing for if you


want to make a state­ment. Why? Be­cause it has got a teenytiny V12 badge on its flanks and a ma­hoosive V12 engine un­der the hood.

Heads up, this is my first V12. This wasn’t en­tirely how I imag­ined things would go — I al­ways imag­ined my arse on the floor, flick­ing up the air­plane-like flap to get to the start-stop switch on a Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor or some­thing equally dra­matic. Loud, rau­cous, at­tack­ing the lim­iter, with the Grim Reaper rid­ing shot­gun to re­mind me of what would hap­pen if I got too en­thu­si­as­tic with my right foot. The V12 in the May­bach is quite the op­po­site. It wouldn’t be fair to call it anti-cli­matic, just… dif­fer­ent. Hon­estly though, at this point of time where reg­u­la­tions are shack­ling big en­gines to the race­track (or the his­tory books), I’ll take what I get. The engine starts without any


drama, set­tling into an idle that is in­audi­ble from in­side the cabin. Rev it while it is stand­ing still, and you can hear the com­bi­na­tion of the forced in­duc­tion from two tur­bos and a light growl from the ex­haust. Doesn’t sound par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful, but you can feel it even at a stand­still — the cen­trifu­gal force on the crank rocks the whole car to the right ever so slightly when you step on it. It’s a proper beast un­der there. It would be un­classy to talk num­bers in a May­bach, but it makes 620bhp and 1000Nm. And you thought the S63 was go­ing over­board?

The May­bach has soooo much torque, and is sooooo fo­cussed on keep­ing the per­son in the back com­fort­able, that it sets off in sec­ond gear by de­fault. Close your eyes, and you won’t even feel it move. Where the AMG is all about whiplash-in­duc­ing re­sponses, the May­bach en­velopes you in a gen­tle embrace. It has got a 7-speed ’box that shuf­fles up and down to keep you in the torque band at all times, but you barely feel it hap­pen­ing. What stands out the most? The re­fine­ment. The com­bi­na­tion of a V12 (an in­her­ently bal­anced engine) and the obsessive lev­els of com­fort means very lit­tle of the engine’s vi­bra­tion or harsh­ness en­ters the cabin. Go easy on the throt­tle, and its al­most like the engine isn’t there. The sheer torque, no mat­ter where you are and how fast you’re go­ing, is an­other. It was mind-bend­ing — step on it while you’re cruis­ing at speeds close to 200kmph and it will still pull cleanly, barely break­ing into a sweat. We tried this at a se­cret test lo­ca­tion, swear. Dy­nam­i­cally, well, it’s mas­sive but the air sus­pen­sion keeps it fairly com­fort­able. There’s a stiff edge to it and this can be a bit un­set­tling con­sid­er­ing our roads but the seats do help make up for it. There’s even a ‘Curve’ mode along­side Com­fort and Sport that coun­ters how much it rolls in corners — sim­i­lar to how you lean into a cor­ner on a mo­tor­cy­cle .

The back­seat is where the party is at. With 200mm added to the legroom of the long-wheel­base S, stretch­ing out should be the least of your wor­ries. The rear seats re­cline, give you hot stone mas­sages, and there’s a footrest for you to quite lit­er­ally, kick your legs up. Proper busi­ness class stuff. The car will pump in fra­grances in the cabin ac­cord­ing to what you like and play en­er­gis­ing mu­sic if


you are drowsy. Wood and leather are used lib­er­ally on the in­side and, yes, it gets screens at the back. I ac­tu­ally felt un­wor­thy stretch­ing out in the back­seat of the May­bach, dressed in a t-shirt and trousers. But, hey, days like these don’t come very of­ten so I did it any­way, and had the most com­fort­able drive home, hot stone mas­sage et al.

DRIV­ING THE S63 COUPE AND THE S650 BACKto-back, you can tell how dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent these two cars are. The AMG with its du­al­ity, and the May­bach with its sin­gu­lar fo­cus on com­fort and re­fine­ment. This re­ally is the epit­ome of what Ger­many has to of­fer the world when it comes to the au­to­mo­bile, draw­ing on the finest of per­for­mance and lux­ury. Think about it, both AMG and May­bach started off in­de­pen­dent of MercedesBe­nz — hon­ing their cars when it came to per­for­mance or lux­ury. They were then ab­sorbed into the Mercedes-Benz fam­ily and were even­tu­ally given their own sub-brands — Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-May­bach. Who knows where the two would have been if they weren’t bol­stered by Daim­ler’s ex­pan­sive car-build­ing knowhow — whether they would have stood the test of time, or be­come rolling pieces of nos­tal­gia. I think they’ve done well for them­selves. Af­ter all, they now build the best ver­sions of the best car in the world. ⌧

Fac­ing page, top: The in­te­ri­ors of the S63 are wor­thy of the ‘S’ badge. Fac­ing page, bot­tom: The seat­belt comes out to greet you; the rear seats ex­ist, but are barely use­able

MERCEDES-AMG S63 COUPE Engine 3982cc, V8, twin-turbo petrol Trans­mis­sion 9-speed auto Power 603bhp @ 5500-6000rpm Torque 900Nm @ 2750-4500rpm Weight 2080kg 0-100kmph 3.5sec (claimed) Top speed 300kmph (claimed) Price ` 2.55 crore (ex-show­room)

Left: The S63 Coupe is more than will­ing to in­dulge in some hoonery

Left: The rear seats of the May­bach are proper busi­ness class stuff. Fac­ing page: The front seat is quite some­thing too – you’ve got a V12 at your beck and call!

Fac­ing page , top: The qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als used on the May­bach are wor­thy of its price. Fac­ing page, bot­tom: The V12 un­der the hood makes driv­ing the May­bach ef­fort­less

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