The 630-HP 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT63 S Is Ferocious And Fine
We're happy to report that not a single Car and Driver editor is currently behind bars. This despite our having had a Mercedes-AMG GT63 S in the office fleet for two weeks. It could easily have gone the other way. You see, the AMG GT63 S is the great white shark of luxury cars. Once it has you in its grip, you're done. It's impossible to resist its immense power. It's shaped like a blunt torpedo. Its toothy grille looks like an ominous gaping maw, poised to devour everything in its path. And it's no illusion.
Consider the evidence. The GT63 S's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 heart pounds out 630 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. All that throbbing energy is routed through a nine-speed automatic and the AMG-tuned 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which enables this Mercedes to bolt to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. The quarter-mile is an 11.1-second 125-mph blur. AMG claims a top speed of 195 mph; it says as much on the tire-inflation sticker on the inside of the gas-filler flap that instructs you to increase the tire pressures for driving at speeds above 156 mph. In our testing, the GT63 S reached 175 mph from rest in the space of one mile. Rolling on optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, it corners at a heady 1.03 g's on our skidpad, matching the roadholding of our long-term Porsche 718 Boxster S.
Those performance numbers put this four-door hatchback in league with the world's quickest supersedans: the BMW M5 Competition, the Porsche Panamera Turbo, and AMG's own E63 S sedan—though the M5 and E63 S begin to edge ahead at the quarter-mile mark. But the GT63 S tears those competitors to shreds when you put them all on a fast open racetrack. It is by far the quickest four-door we've ever hustled around Virginia International Raceway during our annual Lightning Lap competition. You can read about that triumph in the upcoming November issue.
The GT63 S's test results amount to supercar bona fides, but those numbers are easy to misinterpret. AMG would have you believe that the GT 4-Door—the lineup also includes the 577-hp twin-turbo V-8 GT63 and the 429-hp, turbocharged, supercharged, and electrified inline-six GT53—is a stretched version of the company's GT two-seater. It's not. GT 4-Doors are built on a different, heavier platform belonging to the E63 S wagon. Our loaded, 4682-pound test car was carrying 1001 pounds more than the hottest of the GT coupes we've tested, the 577-hp track-attack GT R.
Vehicular DNA aside, this AMG's brilliance comes not so much from its sheer speed as from its tremendous bandwidth. The GT63 S takes the two-seat GT's eye-watering performance and stretches it into another dimension entirely: luxury.
That luxury emanates from both the way the car drives and how it's equipped. The interior is modern and gorgeous, bordering on decadent—especially so in the case of our test vehicle, which was slathered in $5710 worth of optional black nappa leather, microsuede, and carbon fiber. The $500 red seatbelts and the perfectly sewn contrast stitching matched the body color. Optional highly adjustable sport seats provided additional support for hard cornering.
The front of the cabin is dominated by Mercedes's digital instrument cluster/infotainment screen, which is actually two 12.3-inch displays under one piece of glass. The graphics are tasteful and crisply rendered. The functions for almost all of the car's systems are accessed through the screen via its three touchpad controls—a large one on the center console and two tiny ones on the steering-wheel spokes that you swipe with your thumbs. We'd prefer a control knob or a touchscreen to the center-console pad, which was fussy to use.
An additional 15 grand went to optional mechanical upgrades: carbon-ceramic brakes, forged 21-inch alloy wheels (20-inchers are standard), those Cup 2 tires, and an aerodynamics package. The aero kit is composed of a revised front splitter, a fixed rear wing in place of the retractable unit, and several other tweaks to improve downforce and stability at high speeds. Our test car was also fitted with a package of a dozen or so driver-assist features, from adaptive cruise control to evasive-steering assist.
All that extra gear pumped up the GT63 S's $160,995 asking price to $189,360. For that kind of money, any automobile ought to be something special, and the GT63 S is all that and more. It synthesizes beauty, luxury, and aggression in a package that's almost as refined and comfortable as it is breathtakingly fast.
With the drive mode set to Comfort, this hyperactive track terror becomes relaxed enough for everyday driving duty. The active exhaust is locked in its quiet mode. Throttle response is restrained, and the automatic upshifts early and imperceptibly. The adjustable dampers loosen their grip so the ride is supple over large bumps and smooth on the interstate. Despite the stiff Cup 2 tires, minor pavement blemishes induce only minor shivers. Steering effort is reasonable and the GT63 S rolls through corners as if laser guided. The only thing detracting from the serenity is a surprising amount of road noise, a common issue with AMG performance machines, certainly ones wearing tires this aggressive. There's even enough rear-seat head- and legroom to take a pair of six-footers with you—and plenty of cargo space under the hatch for weekend trips.
Thumb the drive-mode selector into Sport or Sport Plus, however, and the GT63 S wakes up. The exhaust snarls with little provocation and the blown V-8 feels punchy and responsive to every prod of the throttle, all without much negative effect on the ride. The steering, always sharp and direct, firms up. Find a twisty road and the GT63 S's all-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering, tenacious grip, and seamless handling allow you to attack it with top-of-the-food-chain confidence. It's unflappable and imperious.
Go all the way to Race mode and you unleash the beast, complete with a booming, popping exhaust note. Vision-altering, arrow-straight launch-control starts are easy to access in this setting: With the transmission in drive, hold down the brake pedal with your left foot, mash the throttle for a couple seconds until the info screen between the tach and speedo blinks hysterically, then sidestep the brake. The next 2.9 seconds will change your life as you hurtle to 60 mph. Is that a shiver you feel as your body blasts through a wormhole or is it the car struggling to put its massive power to the pavement? You'll just have to do it again and again to know for sure.
The GT63 S's four driving dynamic algorithms (Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master) fine-tune the stability control, e-diff, rear-wheel steering, and all-wheel-drive system, and they ramp up in aggression with the car's drive modes. We felt no need to go through the brain-straining exercise of exploring all the combinations; the GT63 S was everything we could ask for with the factory settings running things. We didn't need better handling; we needed more places to exploit it.
If the wild side of the GT63 S still isn't enough, you can engage Drift mode and turn your pricey rear tires ($554 each at Tire Rack last we checked) into smoke. This is where we warn you to do the following in a safe location. The hoon function is accessed with a few quick button pushes. It disconnects the front axle, sends all 664 pound-feet of torque to the rear tires, and makes lurid tail slides easily achievable. But beware: Stability control is off in Drift mode, so there's nothing but your own skill and restraint to keep you from starring in a YouTube crash compilation.
Some skeptics around the office rightly questioned whether the GT63 S is worth the roughly $50,000 premium it commands over an E63 S sedan, which can perform feats nearly as impressive. But at this price, who's counting? Value is where you find it. If you absolutely must have the great white shark of luxury sedans, and if you enjoy people looking at you—we assure you, it'll happen often—there's only one way to go. Meanwhile, we're still trying to figure out how none of us got bit while swimming with it.
The GT63 S's price might invoke disgust in the average person, but the Porsche Panamera is equally exorbitant, so don't begrudge Mercedes for playing up here in the sedan stratosphere, too. And despite being every bit as big as the Panamera, the GT63 S wins over drivers with a solidity between the road and the steering wheel that leads to a Porsche-shaming fidelity and directness. It's more proof that Mercedes is the automaker currently committed to building ultimate driving machines. –Dave VanderWerp, testing director
"Damn, man, how much did you pay for this Benz? A hundred grand?" asked a stranger at a gas station. I didn't have the heart to tell him he'd need another $60K to get into one. I prefer to judge cars on how they drive, but the endless attention this AMG received confirmed what I already knew: Style is subjective. I don't love the GT63 S's design, but I'm willing to overlook it because it drives so well, and no matter how you see it—attractive or not—this Mercedes has an ultrawide range of capabilities that will win you over. It won me over. –K.C. Colwell, deputy testing director.