Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe Review: It's all in the name
What's in a name? Famous lines from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, followed profoundly by — and I’m paraphrasing here— a rose would smell just as sweet by any other name. That may be true, but a name is everything. Names form associations, and associations trigger emotions. Hear or read a specific name and your brain’s synapses fire to trigger memories, thoughts, smells, sights and sounds. These letters or syllables, depending on whether you are reading or hearing them, form complex spectres in your head that rise from your perception of the world. A rose may still smell like a rose, regardless of what it is called. But it would also still have its thorns.
The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe. That’s one long, mighty, convoluted name — one that I tripped over more than a couple of times while attempting to do a video showcase of it at the Auto Expo. Mercedes wants you to think of it as a four-door version of the AMG GT sports car, but it actually shares more with the E 63 AMG than the 2-door GT. It not only gets the same MRA platform as the E 63 but also the wet-sump engine. There’s no transaxle. Mercedes have even ditched the naming scheme from the GT — S, C, R and R Pro for the more sedan-inspired ‘63 S’. Wait, so is this just a fancy E 63 S with an even fancier price?
I’m nervous. Anyone with the keys to AMG’s most powerful production car would be. I touch the pulsating Start/Stop button on the dash and the V8 fires to life. I run myself through the numbers again. 3982cc. Two turbos. 630bhp. 900Nm. That’s more than the track-focussed AMG GT R! Gulp. It may have four doors and four seats, but it will still slingshot to 100kmph in 3.2 seconds thanks to all-wheel drive. Curling my fingers around the chunky Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, I take stock of what lies ahead. Speed, in case that wasn’t obvious already. The steering wheel itself is a big, hefty piece of work. I turn it to manoeuvre the GT 63 out of the hotel parking lot, the slanted early morning light glinting off the machined metal spokes, as quad exhaust pipes burble away somewhere behind me.
The cabin actually has a bit of GT R going on. The wide centre tunnel and the toggle gear selector embossed with the AMG logo is straight out of the two-door coupe, though you don’t sit anywhere close to as low. There are some funky new details, stuff we are seeing for the first time on an AMG. The buttons on the centre console are actually now tiny screens that change their displays when you click them. There’s also two new programmable buttons on the steering wheel, along with a rotary drive mode selector (very Porsche), again with a screen built in to it. The seats are beautifully sculpted to be supportive and snug — and I will come to why in a bit — but where the GT R would have a roll cage behind you, the GT 63 has two more seats. Just as supportive and snug, with enough legroom to accommodate a full size adult comfortably. Heck, this car even has a properly usable boot — a hatch at that!
It’s a glorious thing, this engine, more so than ever in the GT 63. It puts out more power than ever before and Mercedes-AMG had to dial it up to hustle this 2-tonner in a manner that’s befitting the GT name. This engine, the M177, will go down as among the highlights of this turbo-charged era. Lag, if there is any, is completely imperceptible as the turbos in this engine have been fettled with. AMG has used twin scroll turbos with turbine wheels mounted in anti-friction bearings for the first time, to make for better responses. Switch it up to Sport Plus and you’ve got a drivetrain that feels almost telepathic. Floor it, and the explosion of torque hits you hard, pushing your guts all the way in to the seat back and leaving you struggling to breathe. It’s a wildly addictive feeling, aurally supplemented with a guttural V8 roar ascending all the way to a 7000rpm redline. Then you pull the right paddle in, feel it let up for a split-second as the 9-speed wet-clutch gearbox clinically slots in another gear, and repeat. The drama doesn’t stop if you lift off the throttle either, where the whoosh of turbo pressure being released is barked over by the pops and bangs from the exhaust.
It has got the underpinnings to go with how polished this drivetrain is too. The chassis has been significantly strengthened from what you see in the likes of the E 63, with steel and aluminium bracing on the underside along with an aluminium plate under the engine. The GT 63 gets the whole shebang — air suspension that alters according to what mode you put it in, active damping, rear-wheel steering, an e-diff, active engine mounts and even a drift mode that allows you to send all of the torque to the rear wheels. Not that I was going anywhere close to that last bit there, since I was driving this on a public road with very real barricades not too far off. “Boss, I’ve bunged the only GT 63 in the country”, is not a call I wanted to make. Throw the GT 63 in to a bend and it corners flat. It turns in far sharper than its portly proportions would suggest, the rear-wheel steering doing its bit there. The steering itself feels very direct and connected to the road. It is weighted well and the car responds to inputs in a very progressive, composed manner. The grip is phenomenal, it has fat rubber keeping it glued to the road and the vast electronics make sure you can smash the throttle pedal as hard as you dare, to put down torque to the road without overwhelming the tyres. Not something you could do with older AMGs, I know, but this one is engineered to be idiot-proof. There wasn’t too much by way of corners on the route I was on, but the GT 63 nailed the few that came my way. It has track-lapping DNA coursing through it, there’s no doubt about that. Once there, you can ramp it up to the max in Race mode and unshackle it from its electronic chains to really let the tyre-shredding AMG nature out.
The GT 63 is so much more than a track car though. Rotate the dial on the steering wheel back to Comfort and it transforms in to an intercontinental cruise missile. The engine is supposed to be dialled back here, but it still surges for the horizon when you ask it to. The sharp edge has been taken off it though and the exhaust is quieter too, in the interest of keeping you relaxed over long distances. You can still make the exhaust bellow by clicking one of the mini-screens in the centre console so, don’t worry about that.
Ride quality is, no prizes for guessing, firm. Comfort mode does allow some sort of pliancy over humps and bumps and not every granule of the road filters in to the cabin. But the sporty intentions of the car, combined with large wheels and low profile tyres make you wince when you thud over a bigger bump. It’s got surprisingly good ride height, and that actually makes it very usable on our roads. There’s a suspension lift setting offered to further increase how much the GT 63 can tip-toe. This bit is what actually reminds you that this isn’t really a sportscar, and is meant to be something far more usable. It doesn’t ask to be crabbed over smaller breakers, and it isn’t fazed by steep gradients in parking lots. It is something you can take out every day to ferry the kids to their fancy international school, and even the inter-city expressway run.
Long distances are a genuine possibility in the GT 63, provided the roads are familiar. It will willingly sit in one of the higher gears as you cover ground at surprising pace at surprising ease. It cuts off four cylinders when you’re easy on the throttle at certain speeds to save fuel and you wouldn’t even notice it. There’s a Burmester system to keep you company and to drown out the exhaust. No longer is the GT 63 a hooligan, but a refined super-tourer that manages to ace the luxury bits as well.
What’s in a name?
Twenty seconds. The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe is a whole twenty seconds faster around the Nurburgring Nordschlife than the E 63 S. That’s a massive difference. Those marketing boffins may have had their way with the GT’s name, but Affalterbach’s engineers sure as hell have backed it up with a solid car. This is, after all, the third car to be developed by AMG and follows in the wake of the SLS and the aforementioned AMG GT. An E 63 S with the fat sticker price? You’d be a fool to call it that.
The GT 63 S is an elevated experience — one that combines the practicality and luxury of a bigger car, with the attitude and performance of a sportscar. It’s like the AMG Greatest Hits. It takes the flared nostrils from the GTs, mixes it up with four seats, adds a practical boot to acquire a rather vast breadth of ability. And to be fair, the GT 63 does exactly what it says on the boot. It does more justice to the ‘GT’ name than the two-door GT ever can — you can do Gurgaon- Jaipur, no problem. ‘63’ means you can frighten your passengers. ‘S’ makes sure they will soil their pants when you indulge in long, smokey drifts, which is probably why the seats are brown to start with. And ‘4-Door Coupe’ — well, just look at it. It is the poster boy for that description. The name may be long, but it is appropriate. Trust the Germans to be so matter-of-fact about these things.