Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 2014 Review
Having engine stop/start on a car like the Benz CLS 63 AMG doesn't seem to fit.
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If an M5 sedan is too mainstream but four doors are a must for your driveway, then BMW's M-division has unleashed a new flagship that will fit your bill. BMW's latest M-monster is a four-door - the M6 Gran Coupe, a svelte and muscular coupe with easy rear seat access.
Anything around $300,000 that doesn't have an ensuite and off-street parking is not really going to be considered value, but it depends on what price you put on stupendous speed or a features list that could take up the rest of this page. The exclusivity of just 20 cars being on the road might well be worth the extra $70,000 - that's a top-spec 1 Series or a mid-spec 3, remember - over an M5.
The Gran Coupe gets quad-zone climate control system and roller sunblinds for the rear windscreen and rear side windows to set it apart from the coupe and add to the extensive features list: ventilated and heated leather seating, insulated windscreen, model-specific 20-inch M light-alloy wheels, alcantara rooflining with a leather trim centrepiece, adaptive LED headlights, full internet and sound system integration for smartphones and electric sunblinds for the rear windscreen and rear side windows.
The BMW M6 Gran Coupe also brings with it a couple of sizeable options, among them a 12-speaker $14,000 Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System, digital radio reception, a heated steering wheel and $4500 for BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition.
Twin-scroll turbos - two of them - puffing away atop an already-potent V8 is recipe for rapidity, even in a two-tonne Teuton. The engine has variable valve timing and lift control on both sides, as well as direct injection, to generate 412kW and 680Nm (from just 1500rpm through to 5750rpm) to send through the rear wheels. On the other side of the powerplant equation is the fuel economy, which is a claimed 9.9 litres per 100km.
New to the M6 range and arriving with the new coupe is the $12,000 Competition pack, available from July which adds 11kW, Competition wheels and gives more aggressivesuspension and power steering tune.
The extra grunt takes the sprint to 100km/h down from the standard car's 4.2 second claim by 0.1 of second, or 0.2 quicker to 200km/h - given the "standard" car's gusto it wouldn't really seem worth the extra moolah.
The drivetrain goodies also include the double-clutch seven-speed "auto" (with stop-start and launch control) and the active rear differential, which teams with the electronics to get the grunt to ground and distributed to whichever of the rear wheels can best use it.
The trend of coupe-styled four-door machinery spawned the 6 Gran Coupe and the M version adds to the imposing presence of the mainstream car. It has the visible carbon-fibre roof, aluminium door and bonnet panels and plastic front guards - all of which help the centre of gravity and keep weight to about 1.9 tonnes.
The Gran Coupe gets a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic rear under-bumper diffuser that wraps around the four exhausts. The stance is low and muscled, with wider track, flared wheel arches and larger front air intakes, the brooding and imposing "coupe" sits just 110mm off the tarmac on 20 inch wheels wrapped in liquorice instead of tyres.
Cabin space is for four (although there's a fifth seatbelt, the centre console is broad) and the four occupants are generally well accommodated.
At 191cm I can sit behind my own driving position with only rear headroom being an issue, while cargo space is good - not grand - at 460 litres, with a split-fold rear seat function to increase that to 1265 litres should you need it.
The full arsenal of safety features as you'd expect at this level - front, front-side and curtain airbags, multi-stage stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with six-piston front calipers, cruise control with braking function, active front head restraints, auto-dimming mirrors, several cameras, parking sensors, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring,head-up display and auto high-beam function. Or if you are hell-bent on slowing the earth's rotation, you can ante up $24,000 for carbon-ceramic stoppers.
Sauntering out of the pit lane and the sense of quiet refinement, the comfort of a big lazy V8 and being snug down truly behind the wheel is a relaxed place to be.
Lapping the Sepang track we're testing on doesn't give any sense of ride quality - for that we'll have to wait for local roads - but the clever steering and suspension systems do great things for the Gran Coupe's body control.
The front can come under pressure if you're heavy on the brakes, and the rear can slip sideways under duress without too much provocation, but the extra bit of wheelbase and the active rear differential, which teams with the electronic nursemaids to varying degrees, makes it an easy catch with the hydraulic power steering.
Some time on the wet skid-pan demonstrated the clever teamwork between the electronics and the clever rear diff, as well as the playful abilities and the immense outputs that can be employed when the restrictions are lifted.
With 412kW and 650Nm on offer from the right foot it is an easy game to play, belying its size to some extent - it's no M3 in being nimble in the bends on change of direction, but the torque of the twin-turbo engine makes the M3 feel slow.
The brutal straight-line force, which can be unleashed using launch control, slings the big coupe away from standstill to 100km/h in around four seconds, although BMW staffers say 3.9 in the right conditions is not impossible - I'd believe it.
As a German ubercar for daily use, we'll wait for a taste of the ride on our roads, but its ability to play hard on a racetrack and obliterate tyres is not in any doubt. Lavish in cabin materials, with no shortage of gear, it's more sledgehammer than scalpel, but not often is blunt force trauma so entertaining.
|M3||4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$50,500 – 63,910||2013 BMW M Models 2013 M3 Pricing and Specs|
|M3||4.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$51,500 – 65,120||2013 BMW M Models 2013 M3 Pricing and Specs|
|M3 Frozen Silver L.e.||4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$55,400 – 70,070||2013 BMW M Models 2013 M3 Frozen Silver L.e. Pricing and Specs|
|M3 Pure||4.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$41,000 – 52,470||2013 BMW M Models 2013 M3 Pure Pricing and Specs|
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