2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Debuts at 2013 LA Auto Show

By all means, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic is an incredibly virile, opulent and expensive luxury sedan -- but for that small fraction of the one percent who view a 577-hp, $141,000 Mercedes as pedestrian, Daimler has a solution: the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, which will debut simultaneously at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show and the 2013 Tokyo auto show.

For now, the 2015 S65 AMG is the grand poobah in Mercedes' S-Class lineup, sitting atop both the S63 AMG and the upcoming twelve-cylinder 2015 S600, which is expected to debut in January at the 2014 Detroit auto show. Despite this status, the 2015 S65 AMG isn't the epitome of visual hubris. As has been the case with prior S65 models, the exterior look is rather understated, especially when compared with the 2014 S63 AMG. Both cars share the same gaping lower fascia in front, the same stylized rocker sills, and the same rear diffuser, down to the quartet of quasi-rectangular exhaust tips embedded in the rear bumper. Clues to the S65's identity are slight -- apart from the small S65 AMG badge on the trunk and "V12 BITURBO" emblems on the front fenders, the only other visual clues are the unique 16-inch polished forged aluminum wheels, and the grille insert. While the eight-cylinder S63 AMG's grille has but eight bars, the 2015 S65 AMG's grille incorporates six pairs of thin horizontal bars -- one for each cylinder packed underhood.

Buried beneath a sea of beauty panels, including a unique carbon-fiber engine cover, lurks what truly sets the 2015 S65 apart from its S63 sibling: a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged twelve-cylinder engine. The engine, hand built in Affalterbach, Germany on a super-exclusive assembly line nestled between executive offices, is essentially carried over unchanged from the 2013 S65 AMG. As such, it remains an absolute brute. Mercedes-Benz says peak output, rated at a beefy 621 horsepower, is delivered between 4800 and 5400 rpm. Peak torque, an incredible 738 lb-ft, is sent to the rear wheels between 2300 and 4300 rpm.

Compared to the 2014 S63 AMG, the 2015 S65 packs an extra 44 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque, yet Mercedes says the 2015 S65 is three-tenths of a second slower to 60 mph than the S63. What gives? The S63's new 4Matic system likely plays a part in whittling down its launch times. The S65 is strictly a rear-wheel drive affair, as Mercedes has yet to develop a version of 4Matic that can handle the S65's ungodly torque. Frankly, we're surprised to see the 2015 S65 finally move away from the antiquated five-speed automatic it previously used in favor of a seven-speed wet-clutch automatic, like that in the 2014 S63 AMG. Mercedes claims the extra pair of cogs aids fuel economy, especially in concert with the standard engine start/stop system, but that's probably as important to prospective buyers as comparing fuel consumption of luxury yachts.

The list of included amenities, however, is certainly important. To say the 2015 S65 AMG is lavishly appointed is a stifling understatement. Like the S63 AMG, the S65 boasts deeply bolstered front bucket seats, and an interior trimmed to the nines in nappa leather -- including the headliner. Better yet, the vast majority of optional equipment offered on the 2014 S63 AMG is included gratis on the 2015 S65 AMG. Hot stone massage functions for front and rear seats? Standard. A 24-speaker Burmeister surround sound system? Standard. The $3500 exclusive seating package, which allows the outboard seating positions on the rear bench recline up to 43 degrees? Standard fare. Four-zone climate control with integrated perfume atomizer? The driver assistance package, which includes blind spot detection, collision mitigation, and adaptive cruise control with active steering assist? Heated and ventilated seats paired with heated armrests? An upgraded COMAND infotainment system with a touchscreen interface? All included with the purchase of each and every 2015 S65 AMG, of course.

As such, optional extras are fairly limited. Factory-installed extras include a wood-trimmed steering wheel, Designo interior trims, a few additional wheel designs, and twin bucket seats in lieu of the rear bench. If that's not enough to set your S65 apart from the hoi polloi, you can always have it shipped from Sindelfingen, Germany, to AMG's Performance Studio in Affalterbach, where technicians can add things like carbon fiber interior and exterior trim, carbon ceramic disc brakes, or paint the car in any conceivable color.

As the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG won't reach the U.S. market until the fall of 2015, it's not surprising to learn Mercedes-Benz has yet to lock down a finalized price tag for its Superübersedan. Unless you have an oil field at your disposal, don't expect it to be anything close to affordable. The outgoing 2013 S65 AMG retailed for a cool $212,000. If the 2015 S65's base price grows in a manner similar to the 2014 S63 AMG's price tag, expect the cost of admission to hover close to the $215,000 mark.

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