Product: AMG GT 63 S 4-Door
Release Date: Early 2019
Will all due respect to Jeff Foxworthy: if you’ve ever heard of the “One Car,” you might be a car nerd. It’s a term bandied about in barstool arguments and forum threads, one that’s usually some variation of, if you could only drive one car for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Obviously, different enthusiasts have different desires, but for most gearheads, it comes down to some sort of vehicle that’s fast, fun to drive, is capable of handling real life’s real roads and has enough room for four people and some luggage. Good looks are appreciated, but not required.
Enter the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door coupe, a sleek sedan packing the best performance bits AMG has to offer — including a twin-turbo. 4.0-liter V8 that makes 631 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque and performance-tuned all-wheel-drive (that can be switched to rear-wheel-drive alone when it’s time to make the donuts). Seems like a solid choice for a One Car, no? Your humble author took it for a week to find out.
What We Like
Good god, this thing is fast. Like, make-you-angry-every-highway-isn’t-the-autobahn, leave-you-unironically-quoting-Top Gun fast. Galloping along at 80, 90 miles an hour feels effortless. Even the tight, winding turns of narrow, old-school highways like the serpentine Merritt Parkway seem like child’s play at speeds that would have you anxious in almost any other car. You can merge onto any road, with any amount of runway. Trust me: I had to launch control onto said parkway (where stop signs for on-ramps sit next to 70-mph traffic) more than once, and I could dive in with ease. In fact, “with ease” is being too subtle; this thing blitzes forward.
Plus, it makes the best sound when you hammer it. AMG has long been a master of squeezing beautiful music out of a V8, and the GT 63 S’s full-throated powerboat roar never grows old.
But the GT 4-Door Coupe’s claim to fame (and reason for its own naming convention, instead of being lumped in with the E-Class/CLS-Class sedans it’s based on) is that it’s been developed by AMG to be not just a sport sedan, but a true four-door sports car worthy of running apace with the AMG GT. As such, it handles like a dream.
The suspension isn’t too harsh for the real world, and I’ll proudly state that anyone who says so is a wimp who should buy an S-Class instead; it only rides rough on roads where the potholes are harsh enough to pain anything short of a Rolls-Royce or F-150 Raptor. Yet it’s as well-planted as any car this size in the turns, always clinging to your desired line. I didn’t have a chance to track it — but let’s face it, even most who spring for this car won’t do more than push it hard down back roads, where it feels as fast as any super sports car.
(That said, should you be considering taking it to the track, you might be curious to know that, in Car and Driver‘s hands, the GT 63 S was able to lap Virginia International Raceway’s difficult TK-mile road course in 2:49.3 — faster than a Ferrari F12berlinetta or 458 Italia, Acura NSX or Chevy Camaro ZL1.)
It’s a delight to drive at lesser speeds as well, thanks to steering that’s well-weighted and perfectly-ratioed. It’s intuitive and quick, without feeling nervous, and has more feel than most fancy German cars these days — though the new M5 Competition shows BMW’s trying to rediscover that old-time religion. (The tiller of the Cadillac CTS-V may still be slightly superior, but that beloved Caddy is already out of production.)
Indeed, perhaps just as stunning as its performance is the fact that it’s so damn usable. AMG-tuned 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive is great for lapping tracks, sure, but it also helped me conquer some of the worst roads Vermont could serve up in December (with the help of some Michelin Pilot Alpin snow tires, admittedly). The seats are comfortable even on long hauls; plus, unlike the pillbox interior of the GT coupe and convertible, the bigger cabin allows riders plenty of room to sprawl out and appreciate the fine interior. The rear seat is a tad tight, especially with the elegant Executive Rear Seat package of my tester that turns the back bench into a pair of snug captain’s chairs, but it’s still possible to put one adult behind another.
As for the looks, they grow on you. At first, the GT 4-Door seems almost too conservative for such a raucous machine; it’s lacking the brutality and sharpness traditionally associated with four-wheeled Teutonic terrors. (Blame, if it needs to be handed down, lies at the foot of Daimler’s “Sensual Purity” design language, which avoids creases and hard angles the way vampires avoid tanning beds.)
But the longer you look at it, the more the beauty reveals itself. The rear has almost a Porsche 911-ish curve to its fender flanks, while the nose makes you think so vividly of the AMG GT sports cars, you have to do a side-by-side comparison to realize it isn’t the exact same face. It’s long — three inches longer than the E63 S sedan — but that length makes it look sleek and lean. It’s an utterly classy design that looks simple on a computer screen or magazine page but ever-so-complex in person.
Watch Out For
It’s pricey, even for what it is. That barely-smaller, barely-slower E63 S starts at $54,000 less than ; even if you opt for the more expensive, more-versatile wagon version and load it all the way, you won’t hit the GT 63 S’s price. Granted, the GT’s a bit more fun — it’s made for driving even more than those cars are, with more of a sports car’s spirit — but if you’re the type who craves bang-for-your-buck over maximum-thrills-at-any-price, this car will probably be a tough cell.
The center console’s tiny color LCD-screen displays for various driving controls (manual shifting, stop/start, exhaust mode, etc) look cool, but the toggles switches used to manipulate them are less intuitive and harder to use than the old click knobs found in the pre-facelift AMG GT. And, unlike those eight cylindrical wheels, they don’t suggest a V8 engine’s layout, either.
A minor quibble, but in our smartphone-centric, a valid one: with three USB ports shared between the driver and shotgun rider, why is the only one with Apple CarPlay connectivity is situated where using it blocks one of the cupholders? Come to think of it, why is the 12-volt plug located where it blocks the other cupholder? With my radar detector and phone both plugged in, I was forced to use the door’s cupholder for my Wendy’s cup. (Yes, I’m complaining that this 630-hp supercar with eight cupholders made my life slightly inconvenient.)
Perhaps more relevant for the AMG GT 63 S’s target audience: what the hell is with all the confusing levels of dynamic options? As if being able to decide between the regular drive modes of Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual wasn’t a lot to handle, the GT 63 S also offers a quartet of driving algorithms — Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master, each of which fiddles with the stability control, AWD and electronically-controlled limited slip differential, among other things. They can change in concert with the drive modes, but you can also fiddle with them separately. I’m sure some German engineers are very proud of giving people the option, but it seems likely most drivers will never even play around with it.
And perhaps it’s pedantic to complain about such things, but as a writer who cares about language and a journalist who has to find something to complain about, the name “GT 4-Door coupe” is ridiculous, because a) four-door coupes are just sleek sedans, and b) it’s awkward to say when you’re describing them. The AMG GT sports cars go without numbers in their names — they’re just AMG GT, AMG GT C, AMG GT R — so let the alphanumeric names do the work of differentiating the four-doors from the true coupes.
The $153,000+ Porsche Panamera Turbo is the most direct competitor, sharing not just pricetag and performance but also shape and even hometown with the GT 63 S. The BMW M8 Gran Coupe ($130,000+) and forthcoming Audi RS 7 (price not yet set) also stack up pretty precisely against this AMG; or, if you’re willing to trade away a bit of sexiness and sharpness for added space and savings, the E63 S Wagon ($111,750+) might be just the thing.
Sure, with a pricetag of $162,200 to start and pushing past $180,000 as my tester came equipped, it’s hard to make a value-based case for the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door. For that money, after all, you could have an E63 S and a Mustang Bullitt, or a C63 sedan and a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS, or a CLS53 and a Mazda MX-5 and a Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. But all those, of course, would require multiple parking spots, juggling multiple maintenance schedules, and so forth. Double (or triple) the cars, double (or triple) the trouble.
That’s the beauty of the One Car: Make the choice once, and live happily ever after. It’s a game that’ll keep going as long as there are cars to be bought, one that’s fun to play over and over again. I’m sure my tastes may change as new models arrive on the scene, but if I could have but one car to drive for the rest of my years and had to choose from all the new ones on sale today…I’d pick this one.
Mercedes-Benz provided this product for review.