Mercedes-Benz's flagship S-Class sedan was redesigned for the 2007 model year and emerged as a larger car with a raft of safety features. For 2008, a second AMG high-performance model — the S63 AMG — has been added to the S-Class lineup, which also includes the S65 AMG, S550 and S600. The S-Class shares luxury-sedan real estate with competitors like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Bentley Continental Flying Spur.
Available safety features include Mercedes-Benz's Pre-Safe system, which can tighten the front seat belts, close the sunroof and side windows, and adjust passenger seats for optimal safety when a collision is unavoidable. Also offered is an infrared night vision system that can project a black-and-white video image of the road ahead onto a display in the instrument cluster.
The S-Class' exterior shape features pronounced fender flares that resemble those of the automaker's recently redesigned M-Class sport utility vehicle. The sheet metal is smooth and uncluttered, and the headlight assemblies are more angular than those of prior models. The sedan's trunklid calls to mind the BMW 7 Series.
Chrome and wood accents adorn the inside of the S-Class. As opposed to a console-located gearshift, the driver selects Park, Drive and Reverse via a stalk on the right side of the steering column. Drivers who wish to manually control the automatic transmission can do so with shift buttons located on the back of the steering wheel.
The S-Class' Comand system features an 8-inch screen high on the center stack that can be operated via a control knob on the center console. At first glance, it appears much like Audi's Multi Media Interface or BMW's iDrive. The stereo, navigation system and climate control system can also be operated with traditional buttons. Four-stage massaging seats are available.
Under the Hood
The 5.5-liter V-8 develops 382 horsepower and 391 pounds-feet of torque. The engine features variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder. The V-8 teams with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Also available is a 510-hp, twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-12 that churns out a pavement-wrinkling 612 pounds-feet of torque. The V-12 works with a five-speed automatic.
A 604-hp V-12 in the S65 powered the sole S-Class AMG model for 2007. For 2008, an S63 AMG with a 6.3-liter V-8 making 518 hp and 465 pounds-feet of torque joins the lineup.
In addition to Pre-Safe and infrared night vision, available safety features include Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control and Brake Assist Plus. Brake Assist Plus works in conjunction with Distronic Plus radar signals and can increase brake pressure in order to avoid a collision. Distronic Plus also includes front and rear radar park assist.