It simply dominates.
– Montreal, Quebec
Rarely do the nautical and the automotive intersect so neatly than when discussing full-size luxury convertibles like the 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 cabriolet. While the inevitable 'boat' remarks will be made about any bruiser as big as the S63, the real sea-going comparison here has to do with craftsmanship - specifically, the level of quality, expertise, and creativity required to build such a stunning monument to personal luxury in the form of a hand-hewn mahogany launch or open-air autobahn cruiser.
The 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 cabriolet is a very specific car built for a small, deep-pocketed audience - and as a result, it doesn't follow trends, mimic the competition (and who would that be, exactly?), or put on airs. It simply dominates.
- Turbochargers are all the rage right now, and the Mercedes-AMG S63 cabriolet puts a pair of them to good use in feeding its individually-assembled 5.5-litre V8. Capable of churning out 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, it might not sound as wild as the naturally-aspirated AMG units of old but it will definitely get you where you are going - in 3.9 seconds, if 'where you are going' translates into 100 km/h from a standing start.
- The interior of the S63 cabriolet is fabulous. An enormous infotainment screen dominates the centre stack, the seats are wrapped in the softest leather imaginable, buttons fall easily to hand (with the exception of the hidden cruise control stub on the steering column), and you get full Airscarf, Aircap, and seat heaters to let you extend the top-down season. The three-layer fabric roof is paired with double-paned glass to keep you snug when you finally give up fighting the snowflakes in November.
- It's possible to spend hours driving the S63 and step out of the car feeling fresh as a daisy. In conjunction with the car's adaptive air suspension system, a big part of this can be attributed to the follow-along cruise control that will steer and adjust the Mercedes-AMG's throttle for you at highway speeds as well as when you're stuck in traffic. Just remember to keep one hand loosely on the wheel or the car will scold you for letting your attention wander.
- Unlike more in-your-face options from Bentley or Rolls-Royce, this convertible has road presence and curb appeal without crossing over the line into caricature. Yes, those are Swarovski crystals in the headlights. No, you don't have to tell anyone that. Instead, let the S63's battleship ballerina lines speak for themselves.
- The Mercedes-AMG S63 cabriolet comes equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission that's just a little bit reluctant to get things going off the line. Whether that has something to do with tuning (this isn't a race car, after all), or simply ties in to the gearbox's older technology, it's a delay that you'll notice from time to time when flooring the gas pedal from a stop.
- This is a very big, and very heavy car. Somehow, these two facts have in no way slowed down the S63's straight line speed, but nimble it's not when asked to quickly negotiate a tight set of corners. Instead, think 'competent' - the Mercedes-AMG holds its own in the handling department, and in fact will most likely surpass the expectations of each and every buyer - and keep this particular hot rod away from the track.
- The night vision feature offered by the S63 is a neat parlour trick, but we had trouble understanding how it's practical to use in the real world. The system displays an infrared, black-and-white view of the road ahead in the gauge cluster, which means you have to take your eyes off the road to see it. Not only that, but even on very dark roads the night vision didn't show us anything the headlights hadn't already picked up.
Photos: Benjamin Hunting