Engine and Gearbox
The S-class line up features a diverse range of engines designed to cater for both drivers looking for performance and those who are more concerned with efficiency and range distance. In the UK, these disparate goals will see most opt for the S350d, formerly badged BlueTEC, which Mercedes claims will return a reported 50.4mpg. With 254bhp and 457lb ft of torque it should provide more than enough performance for most plutocrats.
The hybrid S400h swaps 3 litres of diesel power for 3.5 litres of petrol, in the same V6 configuration. It also receives electric support (and a seven-speed gearbox, rather than the 9G-Tronic used in all but the hybrids and the AMG models) for a healthy slug of power and torque - 328bhp and a slightly less impressive 273lb ft respectively.
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The S500 - eight turbocharged cylinders in a vee, 449bhp, 516lb ft - is next up, followed by the plug-in hybrid S500e. From six cylinders it makes 436bhp and 354lb ft. In e-mode, the car is the quietest of the range, but only for 20 miles until the battery charge runs out.
Above these is the biturbo V8 of the S63 AMG, which delivers 577bhp and a whopping 664lb ft of torque. Alternatively, you have the far more exciting S65 6-litre V12 bi-turbo. It boasts 738 lb ft of torque and 621 bhp, which is plenty to haul the mighty S-class along at an indecent pace.
Ultimately, the entire S-class engine range delivers superb levels of refinement and, towards the AMG end of the spectrum, incredible levels of performance when required.
The non-AMG petrol offerings are almost silent within the cabin. The diesel is slightly more noticeable but it could hardly be considered uncouth.
But it’s the AMG models that have the most impressive engines. The S63’s V8 is the most aggressive, and with the ‘box in manual the exhaust emits a rambunctious noise. Although entertaining, the quieter, smoother and, certainly, no slower twin turbo V12 in the S65 suits the luxurious S-class even more. It has the perfect blend of devastating performance, extreme refinement and decadence that suits an S-class.