A CRUISE around sun-drenched California is the perfect test for Mercedes-Benz’s most expensive – and potent – drop-top boulevard cruiser.
WHAT IS IT?
This is the updated version of Mercedes-AMG’s big, imposing and beautiful coupe and convertible. The barmy S65 twin-turbo V12 version is largely mechanically unchanged but its S63 sibling has far more going on under its gorgeous facade.
The technical changes apply to both drop-top and tin-top versions but, in the mild Californian climate, the Cabriolet was our focus.
WHY WE’RE DRIVING IT
While other variants in the two-door S-Class family have received more minor updates as part of a mid-life refresh, the S63 gets the most significant makeover. Out has gone the huge 5.5-litre turbo V8, replaced by the new more sophisticated 4.0-litre. The transmission has also gained two extra ratios and the driven-wheel tally is also up by two bringing 4Matic four-wheel traction.
A first drive on US soil is all about establishing if the biggest changes amount to the most accomplished offering in the S-Class coupe and convertible range.
Bentley Continental GT, Maserati GranCabrio MC
No one needs a large five-seat convertible that can crack 100km/h from standstill in 3.5 seconds and blast on to a top speed of 300km/h, and many would argue that what is likely to be an asking price of nearly half a million dollars could be better spent on other vehicles. Several other vehicles.
But the Mercedes-AMG does something special to its occupants. Its intoxicating spell of unbelievable pace, weight-defying dynamics and a look that has people swooning on the streets of LA makes you forget all of your sensibilities.
Stow the roof, slide into the sophisticated cabin and point your toe at the high country, and the updated AMG S63 Cabriolet has your hand almost involuntarily reaching for a chequebook and pen. No questions asked.
PLUS: LA street style anywhere in the world; monstrous pace and noise; executive class cruising
MINUS: Questionable second-row accommodation; some driver-assistance gremlins.
THE heart of any high-performance car is often the mind-bending puzzle of pistons, pumps and motors that combine to breathe life into what would otherwise be a soulless amalgam of parts. Less often does just one engine have the same effect on an entire brand, but that’s exactly what Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is doing for the company, smack in the middle of its half century celebrations.