What is it: The 2018 Mercedes-AMG S65 is a large ultra-luxury car with all the bells and whistles and tricks and toys you can imagine. The S65 is the top trim, the most expensive S-Class you can buy, and that includes both Maybach versions of the Mercedes luxury sedan. The cornerstone is a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that wins every argument.
Key Competitors: BMW M760i xDrive, Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive, Bentley Flying Spur, Beechcraft Bonanza airplane
Base Price: $232,195 As-Tested Price: $243,495
Full review: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class first drive
Highlights: A Porsche 911 GT3 RS with carbon ceramic brakes is no surprise, but an S-Class? The AMG S65 offers them for an additional $8,950. It accompanies the standard AMG sport exhaust, body-control suspension, summer tires, and carbon fiber engine cover. The remaining options do sound more large-sedan appropriate however: $800 for special piano black wood, $1,000 for special Designo leather, and $550 to have a heated windshield.
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Our Opinion: It all starts with a whirr. A smooth rhythmic hum that ends like a crack of the whip as 12-cylinders light-off with the energy density of dynamite. V12s are naturally smooth and unnaturally torquey. This latest example is no exception, and 738 lb-ft of torque is a usually reserved for one-ton diesel pick-up trucks. But when burdened with just 5,000 pounds, this engine provides the pull of a freight train. The 621 horsepower is almost a side note.
Of course, freight trains don’t have five types of massages offered in the seats. Nor do they come with a climate control system that has a separate footwell temperature. And, my personal favorite, no train I’m aware of includes something called “Energizing Comfort.” Choose between Refresh, Vitality, Enjoyment, Well-Being, or even Training. Select any one of them and the massaging seats engage, specific scents waft through the climate control system, even specific soundtracks play through the Burmester stereo to trigger a certain mood.
But maybe you're one of those people that buys a car to go places and the S65 can do that too. It’s no surprise that you and your passengers will have plenty of elbow room and sit in beautiful leather and be awashed in luxury. What does surprise is how firm the ride is. Even in comfort mode, AMG ensured the big brute stays taut. The upshot is excellent body control around curvy roads, but slightly unsettling impacts over heaves and ruts when the going gets bumpy, which, admittingly, happens a lot in Detroit. Clearly, AMG wants the car's priorities clearly understood.
It’s rear- not all-wheel-drive. It wears warm weather only performance tires. There’s a dynamic setting for the suspension. But, then again, it also comes with a fragrance system, heated and cooling and massaging seats, Nappa leather, voice control, soft-close doors, panorama glass roof, and ambient lighting. A true dichotomy. The car lives two parallel lives, making it perfect for the CEO race car driver with a big family. You know, that huge demographic.
Options: Carbon ceramic brakes ($8,950), Silk beige/satin red pearl package including beige/satin red pearl exclusive semi-aniline leather upholstery and porcelain nappa leather headliner ($1,000), black piano lacquer wood ($800), heated windshield ($550).
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $232,195
As Tested Price: $243,495
Powertrain: 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12, seven-speed automatic, RWD
Output: 621 hp @ 4,800–5,400 rpm, 738 lb-ft @ 2,300–4,300 rpm
Fuel Economy: 13/22/16 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: You need a one-ton pick-up to get more torque
Cons: Thought I’d have the cushion of a cloud, instead I get a thin yoga mat