Construction of the Bell Tower in the town of Pisa Italy started in 1173 and (due to wars) took 199 years to build – completed in 1372. The tower’s ‘lean’ was essentially there from the start due to genius builders deciding that soft ground was far easier to dig through and build on. But as it turns out it’s not so good at structure support. The tower’s lean increased over the years until finally being stabilised around the turn of the 21st Century. The leaning tower of Pisa now lists at about 3.99 degrees.
In 1382 – some ten years after Pisa was completed – the church of Our Dear Lady at the Mountain, locally called Oberkirche was constructed. It is known for its leaning spire (an imbalance that was caused by sinkholes) which, when last measured, lists at 4.8 degrees and holds second spot in Germany’s top 10 most leaning towers. In number one place (and holding the Guinness World Record of most unintentionally tilted leaning tower) is the leaning tower of Suurhusen in East Frisian. Building commenced in 1450 and the Tower leans at an impressive 5.19 degrees.
More impressive still (in leaning tower terms) is the slant on the Capital Gate skyscraper in Abu Dhabi. Completed in 2011 and standing at 160 metres, this marvel of modern construction holds the world record with an almost gravity defying 18 degrees list.
For the 2015 S63 AMG Coupe, Mercedes have put all this leaning knowhow to good use via its Active Curve Tilting system. At the touch of a button; up pops the ‘Dynamic curve’ setting in the digital dashboard while underneath the car the suspension (using cylinders to raise and lower the struts) will actively lean the S63 into corners by up to 2.65 degrees. The result is an almost motorbike like cornering and more importantly; exceptional ride comfort. Around the curves and S-bends of the countryside the S63’s cabin remains stoic and resolute, determined not to be shoved unnecessarily out-of-the-way. It’s not designed to encourage you to take the corners any faster but more to enjoy the ride on the way round – it’s also great for any travelsick sufferers. I really did feel the difference as I took the same corner time after time in all three of the ‘Magic Body Control’ settings, it’s that noticeable. (I wonder if they’re working on ‘Mind’ control next).
While on the topic of the cabin, the espresso brown /porcelain nappa leather and high gloss poplar wood interior is (as my son calls it) “beautifully awesome”. It’s the first time he has actually taken his shoes off to get in to a car! The interior is filled with textures that you can’t stop touching – especially the wood/leather steering wheel option that had been added to the one tested – I found myself almost therapeutically stroking it; a tranquil feeling that was magnified when I set the seats to massage too.
Under the bonnet is a not so tranquil 5.5 litre V8 bi-turbo beast, launching you from 1-100 in 4.2 seconds with a massive 900Nm of torque. But it too can be peaceful, at lower revs and with the double glazed windows up you hardly hear a sound. The 7-gear speedshift MCT sports transmission in Comfort Mode is quick to move up the gears (keeping the revs low and exhaust noise quiet) and at 100kph on the highway; the S63 is sitting at around 1500rpm. I’m not for one moment going to say that it’s an economical ride though and at low revs the transmission does fidget around more than it should.
During the day, with the AMG body styling fitted; an already good looking car moves up to head turning material. The front apron and side air outlets are underlined with high gloss black flicks while the lights are adorned with daytime running LED’s. But at night the car takes on a whole new persona. The ambient interior lighting (which I had set to bright blue) brought on a high end wine-bar feel especially with the 13-speaker Burmester stereo turned up. The world outside can be viewed via the night view assist option. Infrared camera’s show what’s going on in the darkness (in high contrast grayscale) on the digital dash, with thermal imaging highlighting red anything with a heat signature (such as humans or animals). It’s a black and white version of your drive being played out in front of you – and makes the S63 an invaluable hunting companion.
I seriously love this car. It offers exceptional good looks both inside and out, it is very fast, easy to handle and incredibly luxurious. What I am trying to say is, in an increasingly unstable, rollercoaster type of world, Mercedes have given us something we can really lean on.
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