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My 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S test almost didn’t happen. The car needed a set of special snow tires, shipped from Germany, before I was allowed to drive it. They took a while to arrive at the fleet garage. But I’m thankful they finally did, because it meant I got to tank 630 horsepower through a bunch of mud.

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There’s something about purring through in the snow, ice and mud in a powerful car with good tires and smart all-wheel drive. Something about it makes you feel invincible.

(Full Disclosure: I wanted to check out the GT 63 S, so Mercedes-AMG loaned me one over Thanksgiving weekend. It also kicked me a full tank of gas. I named the car Big Ben.)

Heh.
Heh.

This whole car exudes that sense of invincibility, in fact. You, well-insulated, well-protected and bear-hugged by the deep bucket seats, also feel powerful by extension. Like nothing can touch you.

What Is It?

Before all you off-road folks freak out, relax. I’m not saying this Mercedes can rock crawl like your lifted Wrangler. This is your high-speed Autobahn cruiser that can do some light mountain climbing on a muddy road if you need it to. There’s a lush interior, fantastic sound deadening and sheer power that makes it a bit like sitting in a very plush tank. Only you can see everything that’s going on around you.

Despite Mercedes-AMG acknowledging the GT 63 S is a “4-Door,” it is still called a “coupe” and that makes me want to die. But anyway!

The SLS AMG and the AMG GT two-door were both developed and built wholly by AMG. The GT 63 S was built by Mercedes-AMG and has a chassis that’s based on the E 63 S wagon’s. From there, steel and aluminum braces, an aluminum shear plate beneath the engine, three extra braces across the center tunnel and a carbon fiber trunk floor were added.

Specs That Matter

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

From the 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 comes a claimed 630 HP and 664 lb-ft of torque. There’s a nine-speed automatic transmission that transfers all that power to the four wheels. Mercedes-AMG estimates the car to hit 60 from a standstill in just 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 195 mph, as promised by the spec sheet.

These V8 models have rear-axle steering, which gives the sense of driving a dramatically shrunken vehicle, as opposed to one that is huge. The GT 63 S is no pixie; it measures 199.2 inches in length and 76.9 inches in width—about the dimensions of a Porsche Panamera.

But you don’t need to keep cranking the wheel like a bus driver. The ratio of steering wheel input to where the car actually goes seemed markedly aggressive. Small inputs made big turns.

There’s also cylinder deactivation. When the car is in Comfort mode, cylinder deactivation is available in the 1,000- to 3,250-rpm range. Cylinders two, three, five and eight can be deactivated and a little blue indicator in the gauge cluster lights up to tell you the car has done so. Plus, because the car has nine gears, it’ll happily cruise at highway speeds with the engine spinning in low revs.

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

After all that, though, combined fuel mileage still isn’t stellar. The EPA rates the car’s average city mpg to be 15, 20 on the highway and 17 combined. That is... not great. The thing likes gas. Perhaps a little too much.

What’s Great

The advantage of a large car is generally it is spacious on the inside as well. The GT 63 S fulfills this quality nicely. Its backseat legroom is decent. Obviously, I’m not A Tall, but there was ample legroom for the three other passengers in my car, who were all between 5'6" and 5'10". Everyone fit and was comfortable.

The trunk is where the car really shone, however. With a hatchback design and a cargo volume of 16.3 cubic feet, it fit an astounding amount of stuff. As mentioned in our first post about the car, we were able to fit two suitcases (one large, one medium), three duffel bags filled with holiday gifts, four boxes of tissues, two cases of wine, one double-magnum bottle of wine and a curtain rod without difficulty.

The one thing I found annoying was how sensitive the closing sensor is. If you hit the button to lower the lid and the sensor feels it closing ever so gently on something, anything, it freezes immediately and forces you to repack. Any human with eyes would know their cargo fit just fine. The car thinks it knows better. Perhaps this is a method of self-defense.

What’s Weak

I don’t know who decided this, but at some point “luxury” suddenly also meant “many, many options to pick from.” Options for everything! Seat massage options, onboard navigation viewing options, menu setup options, heads up display options, interior lighting options.

Accessing nearly any of the GT 63 S’s functions involved scrolling through seemingly endless menus and sub-menus that would put any self-respecting diner to shame. There were 64 colors to choose from for the interior ambient lighting alone. The heads up display itself had five or six options to pick from. You’d need a minor in music production to adequately balance the stereo.

Now, I understand most of these settings are designed for you to set once and probably never again, but why are there so many to begin with? I’ve driven cars with far fewer options and not once was I overcome with the desire to alter the mood lighting to mirror Gatorade Fierce.

The GT 63 S also came with something called the Executive Rear Seat Package, which was an extra $3,550 As we highlighted in our video, this option didn’t make much sense to me, as it included heated and cooled cupholders but not a rear seat heater. You have to option that separately. It’s indeed a rear seat package. But worthy of being called “executive”? I’m not so sure.

Casual Driving

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

Looking around from behind the wheel, you’re acutely aware you’re driving something roughly the length of a boat trailer. Mercedes foresaw this, and gave the GT 63 S rear-axle steering. As we touched on earlier, it makes a world of difference. Suddenly, the car’s shrunk delightfully around you and you’re pulling out of tight parking lots with far fewer lock-to-lock turns.

And like all Mercedes cars I’ve tested recently, the ride is on the harder side. Even in Comfort mode. You either get used to it or you don’t. This isn’t a system that will soak up all road imperfections. You’ll know immediately which town’s put money toward fixing its roads and which hasn’t.

The nine-speed auto is smooth on upshifts and generally pleasant around town; however I detected a slight shuddering on deceleration and downshifts. This is but a small annoyance because the car drives incredibly well otherwise.

The body feels solid over bumps and there is very little roll. And paired with all-wheel drive and snow tires, the GT 63 S ascended and descended a snowy and muddy mountain road in Vermont with ease. It felt capable of anything, tanking through the muck. It felt like a great, white polar bear. It felt like Iorek Byrnison.

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

Finally, out of all the cars I’ve tested that offer some sort of driver safety assistance system (save for the Tesla Model 3 and Cadillac CT6) the GT 63 S’s was among the best. The automatic high beams weren’t clumsy or confused by flashing traffic lights for oncoming traffic. The switch between it and regular headlights was nearly imperceptible. One moment the whole road was lit up—and the next, the oncoming driver didn’t find themselves blinded. So deft was the switch you wouldn’t even notice if it you weren’t looking for it.

The adaptive cruise control, paired with lane-keeping assist, was stellar. The steering was smooth in the corners and the car braked progressively in stop and go traffic. I tried it out on a variety of roads—interstate highways, curvy state roads, suburban back roads—and the system handled things perfectly, never losing sight of the marked lanes. It even worked impressively well on the traffic-choked Major Deegan Expressway. I felt much less fatigued after a long drive than I did in other cars not equipped with such good assistance features.

Aggressive Driving

There was a lot of power to be had. True, the car is also on the porkier side (4,758 pounds) so it needs a lot to get it moving. But it’s fast. Very fast. The acceleration has a rubber band-like feel, as though you are being dragged forward by a big elastic band tied to a jet.

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

The engine pulls powerfully up to redline and the brakes bite hard when you stamp on them, bringing the great white body to a standstill faster than you can let out your breath. You feel the mass around your ears. There’s a lot of car to stop and you need big, strong brakes to do it with.

But the GT 63 S is far from blunt. This isn’t a cannon you just point in a straight line to fire and forget. While not light nor spry on its feet, it makes up for the agility in substantive feedback. A bass-y acceleration note that thrums into the cabin. Gobs of power. The whole package—the big brakes, the stiff ride, the well-weighted steering, the rear-axle steering—is highly capable and stokes your confidence just enough eye those on-ramps appreciatively and sweep the horizon for cops.

Still, there are too many gears. You’re forever clicking the left paddle to downshift before you find the right gear for the right spot in the powerband. The transmission does a decent enough job of downshifting for you when you mash on the throttle, but there are still just so many gears to work through.

Keep those active bolsters on the most aggressive setting if you can, however. They’ll hug you like your dad never did.

Value

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

I always try and guess how much a car costs before looking at its window sticker, but this one made me laugh out loud. The car’s base price is $159,000, but this one had nearly $27,000 worth of options, bringing final price up to $185,830. I personally don’t need the rear seat package or the fancy sound system. The GT 63 S drives great without them.

I’m a little nervous about the many on-board computers and mechanicals, too. They make the car seem like a nightmare on your wallet as soon as the warranty expires. My prediction is the GT 63 S, cool as it is, probably won’t hold its value terribly well. The E60 BMW M5 certainly didn’t. And that had a V10.

Verdict

It’s clear AMG set out to create the sedan king, and it came pretty damn close. Closer than BMW did with the current-gen M5, anyway. As brutal and powerful as BMW’s S63 engine is, you can’t really hear it because the car’s insulation is too good. The steering feel isn’t great. And the biggest hat trick of all is how that car managed to make 617 HP feel quite... uneventful. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

This GT 63 S has some theater to it. You need that to appeal to the dumb part of your brain that giggles when you go fast. You can hear the Mercedes burble very clearly from inside the cabin. And the rest of the car testifies to an actualized and cohesive idea of a sports car, despite the weight and the four doors.

The back seats offer plenty of room for the average-sized passenger, making the GT 63 S as useful for school runs as it is for going very, very fast. Unfortunately, I think between feeling around for the car’s upper limits and taxiing your friends and family, you’ll do more of the latter. There’s simply nowhere to safely and legally use 630 HP.

If you’re looking for a shouty, vicious powerhouse of a car, look elsewhere. Look for a Hellcat. Your GT 63 S experienced will be refined. It’s power that knows a good tailor. No muscles busting out of seams, here. Just a heavy-hitter that blends into the suburbs well and maybe needs to cool it on the accessories.

Illustration for article titled The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Is A Panserbjørn

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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