2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Driving Impressions

Most auto companies have been downsizing powertrains for improved efficiency. At Mercedes-Benz, engines remain nearly as large as in the past, but many have been turbocharged.

As a result, S-Class models, including the base S550, have plenty of reserve power. In addition to 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, the S550 also provides an impressive level of quietness and isolation. The 7-speed automatic responds well, even if an S550 lacks the swiftness of a sports sedan.

Although the 523-horsepower V12 in the S600 sedan is more potent, that model is heavier, servicing as a boulevard cruiser. The top-of-the-line Mercedes-Maybach S600 gets this powertrain, too, but it’s more of a status symbol than a necessity for energetic performance.

Coupes promise greater driving pleasure, though luxury still comes first. Both body styles are reasonably athletic, if a bit short on driver feedback and connectedness to the pavement. Each lacks the sportier feel that marks other Mercedes-Benz models.

For seriously energetic response, the S63 AMG’s V8 delivers a ferocious 577 horsepower, accompanied by confident all-wheel drive and upgraded suspension tuning. Acceleration to 60 mph takes just 3.9 seconds, and the AMG behaves gracefully through curves and corners. The 621-horsepower S65 AMG, with rear-drive, is a bit less swift but far more costly.

Fuel economy with the base S550 sedan is EPA-rated at 17/26 mpg City/Highway, dropping to 16/26 mpg with 4MATIC, and 16/24 mpg for the coupe. The S600 manages just 13/21 mpg City/Highway, while the S63 AMG is EPA-rated at 15/23 mpg.

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