2018 Mercedes AMG S63

MIAMI — If you’re looking for a vehicle that tells the world “I’ve got it made” yet exudes a more carefree air and fun driving experience than you might ordinarily find in the Super Luxury Class, the Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet may be a perfect fit. After bringing the coupe back to the S-Class portfolio from under the CL banner for 2015, Mercedes unveiled its first S-Class convertible since 1971 with the the S-Class Cabriolet a year later as a 2017 model.

The S-Class has served as the flagship sedan for Mercedes-Benz for quite some time and is always packed with the latest exotic technology (like its infra-red night-vision system for enhanced visual detection of pedestrians, animals and other object in the darkest of conditions) and is the ultimate in luxurious comfort.

Like just about any vehicle that the German manufacturer puts its mind to, it’s a stunner.

The S-Class Cab is offered in three trim levels with the AMG S63 sitting between the S560 and the AMG S65. All things considered, the AMG S63 hits the sweet spot

Its 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine pumps out 603 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque which delivers a neck-snapping, zero-to-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 184 mph (16 mph than what is shown on the speedometer.

That’s less horsepower than what the AMG S65 offers with its biturbo V12 (621 and 738, respectively), but a slightly quicker zero-to-60 than the S65’s 4.0 seconds. The biturbo V8 in the S560 is rated at 463 hp and 516 lb.-ft. with a zero-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds.

The 2018 AMG S63 gets a 9-speed, AMG Speedshift transmission to replace the 7-speed on the 2017 model.

Also, the 4.0L V8 in the 2018 S63 replaces the 5.5L V8 in the previous model and in addition to upping the power numbers from the 2017’s 577/664 also is slightly more fuel efficient with mileage ratings of 15 miles-per-gallon city, 24 highway, 18 combined to the 2017’s 15/23/18.

According to government figures (And who doesn’t trust the government?) that will result in your spending about $5,000 more for fuel over a five-year period compared to the average new vehicle. Like, if you’re driving an S-Class Cabriolet, you’re going to care about that.

While what’s under the hood is important, what’s in the cabin is impressive as well.

The leather front seats are heated and ventilated and come with an adjustable massage function for both driver and passenger. Despite a multitude of infotainment features, the dash has a clean appearance.

That’s because infotainment functions such as audio and navigation are operated via through the COMAND System screen using the ubiquitous knob at the center of the console.

A warning that flashes upon starting the engine cautions you not to let the COMAND System distract you from your driving, but frankly, that is hard to do. That is especially so if you are not all that familiar with the functions, though I have found that the more I operate the system, the easier and less-distracting it becomes.

The cabin is roomy enough upfront, but as with nearly all convertibles, the back can get a bit snug. Passengers over six-feet tall may find the back cramped both in legroom and headroom (with the top up, of course), and the front-seat riders will find their legroom a bit snugger when give those in back more space.

Front seats automatically move forward to free up access to the rear and then recede when the backs are returned in place.

When it comes to price, all S-Series Cabriolets are six figures, but the S63 with its MSRP of $180,495 (including $995 destination and delivery) is closer to the S560’s $134,295 than the S65’s $251,895.

Adding such extras as a Carbon Fiber package (carbon fiber front splitter, rocker panel inserts, mirror covers, rear diffuser insert and engine cover) for $6500, a Burlmester High-End 3D sound system for $6,400), a Driver Assistance Package (active steering assist, active lane-change assist, lane-keeping assist, emergency steering assist and other such safety features) for $2,350, Night View Assist for $2,260, Swarovski Chrystal headlight accents for $1,750, 20-inch forged AMG wheels for $1,700, and AMG Night Styling for $750  ran the total for this particular 2018 AMG S63 Cabriolet to $208,645.

That’s a hefty chunk of change, but still less than the starting MSRP for the AMG S65 Cabriolet.

What I liked about the 2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet: Pretty much everything really. It surrounds you with luxury, and despite its heft (over 4,800 pounds), it drives like a much more sprightly vehicle. The zero-to-60 time is 3.4 seconds. The only time you really notice its size (198.9 inches long, 83 inches wide including mirrors) is when you’re parking in a crowded mall lot. It’s also very quiet with the top up. The screen for infotainment features is nicely incorporated into the flow of the dash instead of sticking up in the middle like an iPad as Mercedes has a habit of doing. Finally, the top operates (raises and lowers) at speeds up to 37 mph.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet: The rake of the windshield can make getting in somewhat tricky, more so for the passenger than the driver. You can easily bump your head if you’re not paying attention. As is typical of many modern drop tops, trunk space is severely reduced when the top is lowered. It not that much to begin (12.4 cubic feet) and probably is no more than two-thirds that with the roof lowered.

Would I buy the 2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet? It’s at the top of its class, so it’s where I would start if shopping in the super luxury segment, and there’s a good chance I would go nowhere else.

— Paul Borden