Bragging rights: usually the ramblings of a tosser, but also the domain of the bloke piloting a lime-green Lanos Sport at a Daewoo owner’s club meet. It’s simply a case of having more than everyone else.
This review was originally published in MOTOR's May 2007 issue
Take Mercedes-Benz’s S65 AMG. It costs $86,000 more than an S600 L, has 467cc more engine capacity, 70kW more power and 170Nm more torque, but is only 0.2sec faster to 100km/h.
In Sydney’s winding-road chaos and Melbourne’s tram-track clutter, opportunities for exercising its thrust potential are about as numerous as the sightings of Britney Spears staying put in a rehab centre. But the S65 is the world’s fastest, most powerful series-production sedan, as well as the dearest Mercedes you can buy. Try out-bragging that.
Forget all that showpony stuff, though. What the S65 is really about is numbers – dirty big whopping ones – like the 1000Nm it produces in a filthy great slug between 2000 and 4000rpm, 750Nm of which is already waiting at 1500 revs. Or the 450kW its twin-turbocharged, single-camshaft, three-valves-per-cylinder V12 slams home between 4750 and 5100rpm.
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AMG claims the S65 will hit 200km/h from standstill in 13.3sec, which is 911 Turbo territory and substantially quicker than anything else with four doors, bar maybe a Boeing. And then there’s its rolling acceleration – unrelenting, but also incredibly refined and as such, strangely deceptive.
Mashing the S65’s throttle gives everyone coccooned inside its leather-and-suede cabin a hearty shove in the back, but it’s a cushioned blow. Only when you glance down at the S65’s electro-luminescent speedo and notice that you’ve bolted to well over three figures in a mere fragment of time does the mega-Merc’s punch really hit home.
Even with five tall, widely-spaced gears (the 7G-Tronic can’t handle the torque), the S65’s V12 spins to its six-grand shift point faster than you’d expect, but its acoustics aren’t quite sex material.
Sure, it’s louder and meatier than an S600, but also blustery and lacking the refined sweetness of the 5.5-litre V12, let alone the glorious edge of AMG’s 6.2-litre V8. And regardless of the 6.0-litre V12’s striding ratios and stump-pulling torque, this engine is one thirsty mutha.
Over a mixture of moderate city punting, cruise-controlled freeway wafting, and some genuinely enthusiastic cornering, the mega-Merc swallowed 27.5L/100km. Still, if you can afford an S65, you probably deserve the fuel bill.
Dunno how many potential S65 buyers will genuinely appreciate its dynamics, but given the mega-Merc’s vital statistics – 2175kg and 5206mm long, on a huge 3165mm wheelbase – it’s a deceptively agile beast.
Like the S600, the S65 features Active Body Control (ABC) suspension, which consists of steel springs and computer-controlled dampers, interconnected by a hydraulic system with a pressure of up to 200bar. Level sensors on the front and rear control arms adjust the ride height depending on speed, and there’s load-adaptive self-levelling at both ends.
Being a true adaptive system, ABC does all the work itself, meaning none of this Sport or Comfort push-button stuff. And it works brilliantly, containing body roll while absorbing bumps impressively, even on the S65’s (optional) 20-inch rims clad in Pirelli P Zeros – 255/35ZR20 front, 275/35ZR20 rear.
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With its long wheelbase, the S65 will perform lovely, languid oversteer drifts if you’re committed enough, but there’s plenty of amusement to be had in its neutral chassis balance and accurate, well-damped steering. The S65’s composite brakes are also up to the task – 390mm up front, 365mm behind – and there’s ample feel through it’s large metal brake pedal. Yes, this gilded elephant knows how to quick-step.
But then so does the S600 L, which brings us back to this car’s huge sticker. Sure, in three years’ time, the S65 is expected to be worth just 51.5 percent of its original value, making it a relative bargain, but 86 grand extra for stiffer dampers, tougher visuals, and a power upgrade that’s about as useful as an arts degree in speed-restricted Australia?
In all honesty, you’d actually be better off with an S600. It’s a car that knows what it is – a super-refined, mega-luxo sedan that also happens to be fast and lush to drive. Awesome as it is, the S65’s a bit too much like a 50-year-old trying to look 20.
Can't spell classic without 'class' on classic MOTOR
2007 MERCEDES-BENZ S65 AMG SPECS
Engine: 5980cc V12, 36v, twin-turbo
Power: 450kW @ 4750-5100rpm
Torque: 1000Nm @ 2000-4000rpm
0-100km/h: 4.4sec (claimed)
Top speed: 250km/h (limited)
Pros: Attention-grabbing presence, arse-clenching acceleration
Cons: Exhaust note is more bluster than brawn, a tad expensive...
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars