Mercedes-Benz knows this about their S-Class customers: if you can afford one S-Class, you can afford many S-Classes. So the question with the newly redesigned S65 AMG Coupe isn’t so much whether you (S-Class consumer) will drive one, but more, do you currently have space in the garage alongside the Ferrari, the Porsche, the G-Wagen, the Jag, the Rover, the Maybach, and the pair of jet skis? Or, rather, how quickly can you expand the garage to fit your next shipment from Affalterbach?
The S65 AMG is a sports car for the rich, powerful and amply pampered. And while the whole phraseology of Mercedes-Benz ad-speak is so repeated and ingrained and dully vague that it only sub-cortically registers when we hear it — “The Best or Nothing” — the verbiage also, conveniently, fits the S65 AMG in a way that few other phrases do (MB also tries, in press copy, “Unique exclusivity and performance”, but the phrase doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same way). This car is truly the best that Mercedes-Benz will offer, and if it wasn’t they’d scrap the whole thing and start over again.
Scrap any vestiges of consciousness in the arena of equitable dispersant of wealth, and see the quarter-million dollar price tag as merely a superfluous detail in the process of acquiring a stealth bomber in the form of a two-door.
To design the ultimate machine, Mercedes-Benz dismisses any idea of monetary restraint, and so I encourage you, too, to scrap any vestiges of consciousness in the arena of equitable dispersant of wealth, and see the quarter-million dollar price tag as merely a superfluous detail in the process of acquiring a stealth bomber in the form of a two-door. Let us not be weighed down by dull talk of currency.
With price and compromise left sucking down super-premium fuel exhaust, we’re left with the open road and 621 horsepower to play with. The exterior of the S65 is chiseled and resembles an angry mouth. For as long and wide as the body is, the car looks sleek and sexy, and the 16-spoke, 20-inch light-alloy wheels help to complete the leonine prowess of the profile. Driving the S65 on PCH in Los Angeles — through Santa Monica, into Pacific Palisades, on into Malibu (all potential future homes for this beast) — is an exercise in restraint. You creep, tap the pedal, tap the brakes, come to a complete stop. The Eco start/stop turns the engine off. You sit in silence. Then, you let off the brake, all 12 cylinders explode again, and you move forward.
In 40 minutes of gridlock, I spent more time letting the hot stone massage relax the knots in my back than I did freeing the endorphins with a pedal-to-the-floorboard adrenaline rush. The Air Balance package (perfume for your car), helped keep the nerves calm, and the Burmester surround sound kept things melodic, if low tempo. And then, once I reached the canyon road and the tarmac widened to a four-lane in front of me, I launched into an ascent from the coast, turning a lumbering minivan into a shadow vanishing into the shade. I reached 90 mph — the hand-built AMG 6.0-liter engine is twin turbocharged and doesn’t lag, doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t do anything but put you powerfully where you want to go — and passed two more four-cylinders to find free pavement away from the mere plebeians. Then, I entered a curve in the high 80s. The car leaned into the bend — the S65’s active suspension reads (quite literally) the curves of the road through a stereo camera that looks approximately 50 feet ahead and adapts suspension accordingly — and we shot around the bend and into view of the CHP motorcycle cop.
This allowed for an early demonstration of the S65’s braking capabilities, dropping me back down to the recommended max speed of 45 mph long before a radar gun touched the car’s metallic black bumper (a ceramic high-performance compound brake system is optional, but not needed). From there, the ride was smooth, the car’s capabilities proven quickly and succinctly.
The V12 gives an angry growl that’s hard to beat, and there’s something addicting about starting out with “six-hundred-and…” when describing horsepower.
The Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission operates in three modes — Controlled Efficiency (C), Sport (S), and Manual (M) — and in sport mode, the car shifts as if it’s doing hot laps on Nurburgring. At 50 mph, flooring the gas drops you back into second and keeps you there until you’re better up to speed.
For those who debate whether the V8 or the V12 is the engine of choice on the S-Class, there’s a valid argument to be had on both sides (I also drove the V8 S63, as a four-door), but the V12 gives an angry growl that’s hard to beat and there’s something addicting about starting out with “six-hundred-and…” when describing horsepower. Unless you’re training for Le Mans you’ll likely never see the limit of this coupe, but that’s all well and good. For all the thrills of pushing a car to its limit (or precipitously sliding over its edge), there’s also an endearing confidence that an endlessly competent car can offer its driver. And for those who are in the market for an automobile with built-in Air Balance system and designo AMG sport seats that give hot stone massages, one can imagine that bolstering confidence resonates a touch more than diving under the hood and tinkering with the radiator belt. This car’s for well manicured, not oil-laden, hands. Speaking more universally of his customer, Tobias Moers (Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH) explained that “there are AMG fans for whom our V12 biturbo engine is the measure of all things.” It seems a stretch for just a car engine, but I can imagine the type.
Of course, the car’s entirely impractical for any daily usage. It guzzles gas like a first-rate eco-offender and the rear seats barely fit a laptop and camera. But, this isn’t a car you’ll drive for anyone other than yourself — forget the wife, kids, grandchildren, world at large. This is about the front left seat and the front left seat alone. And that, my privileged friends, is an extremely good spot to sit.