Driven: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC

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mercedes cls 63 s model shaun keenan

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC has that ‘je ne sais quoi,’ that ‘certain swagger’ if you will. Not because it has one of the longest names in the entire Benz line-up, or because it’s packing the powerful 5.5L AMG biturbo V8 with 550 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. Rather, it’s because this particular bad boy comes with standard 4MATIC full-time all-wheel drive, and because the S-Model squeezes more power and torque out of that hand-assembled AMG powerplant to the tune of 577 hp and 590 lb-ft.

It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.

Besides the big horsepower and torque, the AMG V8 is an awesome engine! When you start it up, it’s got this growl to it that’s just like ‘Oh my gosh, run away! Run fast!’ And when you go to pass a car on the highway, this thing really, really takes off like a shot.

mercedes cls 63 s model shaun keenanWith an electronically-limited top speed of 300 km/h, Mercedes-Benz claims the seven-speed AMG automatic transmission is capable of swapping gears in less than 100 milliseconds, thus helping the 4MATIC S-Model go from 0-100 km/h in just 3.6 seconds. The non- S-Model only nets 3.7-second runs. However, both have traction and stability control systems that can be turned off entirely (the Pre-Safe functions are turned off by holding the button for about five seconds) and stay that way even if you switch from one optimized driving mode to another.

There are four transmission modes, including “C” (controlled efficiency) for consumption-optimized driving, “S” (sport), “S+” (sport plus) and “M” (manual) for enhanced driving pleasure and dynamic flair. Additionally, there is the race start function and paddle shifters mounted directly on the steering wheel.

The electro-mechanical steering has good feel with no dead spots and the all-wheel drive system makes the CLS a very solid daily driver. The 19-inch wheels, sporty rubber and bright red AMG brake calipers hint at this car’s prodigious performance. Carbon ceramic brakes are available for a cool $13,750.

From a handling perspective, the CLS 63 AMG is capable and fun to drive. Like most AMGs, however, you’ll never get anywhere near this car’s limits on public roads...legally. The AMG V8 is paired with auto start/stop functions to help curb this vehicle’s insatiable appetite for premium fuel, but since it can carry up to 80 litres when full, it’s almost a moot point.

mercedes cls 63 s model shaun keenan prnmag 4The car’s sporty glass angles, narrow B-pillars and really nice creases and curves yield a sleek exterior profile that further benefits from an AMG styling package and trunk lid spoiler, which makes it look and feel like a perfectly tailored and pressed Armani suit. Combined with LED DRLs and high-performance adaptive headlights, this AMG has serious presence.

Inside, the carbon fibre trim is complemented by black leather upholstery with contrasting silver-coloured seat belts for the multi-contour 14-way adjustable orthopaedic driver’s seat, which boasts heating, cooling and massaging functions, and is extremely comfortable. I’m kicking myself for forgetting about the massage feature during my week-long test drive.

The flat-bottom AMG performance steering wheel is exclusive to the S-Model. Along with a long list of standard convenience and safety features like Keyless Go or advanced driver assist, other noteworthy interior features include the COMAND system with HDD navigation, DVD changer and media interface, harman/kardon Logic7 surround sound system, automatic climate control and, my personal favourite, the rear window sunshade.

mercedes cls 63 s model shaun keenanThe instrumentation is fully digital with analog needles for the speedo and tach. You can scroll through various screens, including the M-B infotainment system, via the 20-button multifunction steering wheel. Buttons on the left side can access the trip computer, navigation, audio, telephone, driver assist settings, start/stop and AMG functions.

Overall, I’m really impressed by this car. With looks that could kill, comfort and convenience features to a die for, and performance that’ll knock your socks off, it’s hard not to like. But I really wanted to love it, and there are a few issues that prevent me from doing so.

First, the rear-wheel drive version of the CLS 63 AMG is no longer being sold in Canada. It lives on in Europe where the CLS is also available in wagon (a.k.a. “Shooting Brake”) form. Next, the S-Model version of the AMG engine is fabulous, but it still seemed quite thirsty despite my pussyfooting around in it.

There were a few rattles in the otherwise opulent interior, but I do like the full length centre console that extends into the rear passenger area because it adds a lot of usable storage space. The rear seat backs split and fold down to allow access to the generous trunk.

Love is too strong of a word in this case. Lust would be more accurate.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC
Base Price: 
Price as Tested (Before Taxes): $127,750
Engine: 5.5L AMG BITURBO V8
Horsepower/ Torque: 577 HP @ 5,500 RPM / 590 lb-ft @ 1,700-5,000 RPM
Configuration: FA
Transmission: 7-speed AMG Speedshift Automatic
Fuel Economy Ratings (City/ Hwy./ Comb.): 13.5/ 9.1/ 11.5 L/ 100 KM
Observed Fuel Economy: 15.5 L/ 100 KM (after 218 km)
Warranty: 48/ 80,000 km

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