The woman in charge of AMG communications said rather curtly that the 12-cylinder S65 test cars have all been assigned to writers from “our most important markets”. And this was after a senior executive personally extended an invitation to me to try the V12 model.
“You’d have to wake up early though,” I remember him saying. “There is a very limited number of cars.”
So, there I was at the front desk before the birds were in full song, hoping to secure the key to one of Mercedes’ hallowed rocket limos. But Ms Uptight said “Nein, take the 8-cylinder S63 instead.”
Not wanting to go into a discourse (in my pyjamas) on the sales ranking of Mercedes-Benz in Singapore and the Republic’s inordinately high per capita ownership of luxury cars, I nodded.
As it turns out, the S63 AMG is amply suited to popping bleary eyes. Not with a jolt like a bottle of Red Bull, but like a freshly brewed cuppa. I feel the warm caffeine coursing through my veins, from my belly to my chest, my neck and then bingo – I’m wide awake.
The car is furnished even more elaborately than a non-AMG S-Class saloon. The leather-lined cockpit, cushy seats and soundroom-like insulation would have lulled anyone into a slumber.
But the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 simmering beyond the dashboard counters the snooze-inducing cabin by offering a performance worth writing home about.
With a tremor-inducing torque of 900Nm from just 2250rpm, the forced-induction V8 turns the Mercedes flagship into a limo with an attitude. Even more lethal than the Audi S8, the German juggernaut flies to 100km/h in 4 seconds flat, courtesy of an all-wheel-drive system that minimises wheelspin during ballistic take-offs.
While the sprint timing is not quite in the league of supercars, it is astounding for something that is over 5m long and weighs about two tonnes. Its top speed is limited to a relatively tame 250km/h, but the S63 AMG feels like it can manage 300km/h without panting hard.
Yet, at the wheel, the rarefied Merc comes across more like a cruise liner than a cruise missile. Its power delivery is satiny, with plenty of reserves across its relaxed rev range. Its ride is incredibly pliant, not unlike what a normal S-Class offers. The difference is detectable only with generous shoves of either pedal in the carpeted footwell. The car betrays less dive and squat than a garden-variety S-Class.
Hard acceleration brings forth a restrained guttural growl from the engine. This is less booming than what I expect of an AMG machine, but preserves the dignity and standing of the deluxe model.
The drive of less than 100 kilometres, offered on the sidelines of the Mercedes-AMG GT S international test drive, is but a taste of what the S63 is capable of. Still, it is enough to convey the specialness of the steroidal S-Class.
The car is not available in showrooms in Singapore, but well-heeled Mercedes AMG fans can place indent orders with Cycle & Carriage if they desire the rare and revvy land yacht. Those who want the V12 version might have to get past Ms Uptight first, though.
ENGINE 5461cc, 32-valves, V8, turbocharged
MAX POWER 585bhp at 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE 900Nm at 2250-3750rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 4 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 9.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 242g/km
PRICE INCL. COE