S65 AMG: When is too much power too much?

Ejohnson
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S65 Amg

Don't get us wrong, we generally love what the AMG crew does to the buttoned-down machines of Mercedes-Benz. But enough is enough.

If you're an enthusiast, the following formula is irrefutable gospel:

Car/truck/baby stroller/bag of sugar + whole lotta extra power = brain-melting bliss.

But when is too much power actually, you know, too much?

When it's the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, that's when. Don't get us wrong, we generally love what the AMG crew does to the buttoned-down machines of Mercedes-Benz. But enough is enough.

Rather than tune the entire car to work harmoniously (à la BMW's M division and, to a lesser extent, Chrysler's SRT skunk works), AMG's strategy seems to be thus: drop in the most powerful engine you can find--in the case of the 65-series cars, a 604-hp twin-turbo V-12 that churns out 738 lb-ft of torque--and then add a healthy dose of electronics to keep it under control.

To wit: should you floor the S65 without the traction and stability control on, you can expect to roast all the way through the tires, then the wheels, and finally through the brake rotors in about four seconds flat. There isn't a road surface or tire on earth that can properly harness the fusillade that comes down the S65's driveshaft. If by the grace of God you should manage to find a sliver of traction, you'd better have good insurance, because you're going to be heading sideways through the nearest roadside enchilada stand before you can even blink. And that's in second gear. (Dropping the hammer in first actually causes the Earth to spin backwards, tidal waves to swell, and the re-formation of Menudo.)

With stability control engaged, you get a little tire chirp here, a little tire chirp there, and then you're on your way. Sure, ESP has to intervene at every gear shift through fourth, but at least you haven't wadded up your $180K-plus sedan. You also haven't been able to drive your car at anything above three-tenths.

This rant aside, we love, love, love the way the S65 sounds, and we'd never turn up our noses at all those horses. Just keep in mind that AMG's 63 cars are more livable everyday and offer a far better compromise between out-and-out speed and corner-shredding handling. Now check out the S65 on the dyno in our exclusive video (click here);and then read senior online editor Jason Cammisa's analysis of its powerband (click here).

arabalife
Süper car mercedes on YouTube TopGear's http://arabalife.com/mercedes-f800
mopho
Frankly, I think the S550 has more power than anyone has the need or right to ask for. Even the S63 seems like shameless indulgence, let alone the S65.
mentee74
Just a moment as I wipe away the dried saliva from the corner of my mouth.OK OK how much horsepower did you say? So if i could just test drive one,then I could make the world go backwards,go back in time alla superman,buy stock in microsoft,starbucks,and google all from the ground up. Hold up three banks for the down payment and I still in good concience justify buying a near two hundred thousand dollar,gas guzzling,golddigger magnet.Tell me again,how much horse power? I dream in German!!!!
johnmcewantagcom
My brother and I have 2 identical 2006 S65s. We traded in our S55s. The S55 with its 493Hp V-8 was very nice but nothing like the S65. While the S55 seems to strain, the S65 is very smooth and controlled providing a steady pull on acceleration. At just under 5000 pounds, the S65 weighs about 600 pounds more than the S55. When we got ready to turn in our S55s, we looked at Aston Martin and Maserati. All of their insides were too small. We want roomy cars that we can drive to New York or Florida in comfort with several adults. Or take a family of 4 comfortably to church. If we want sporty, not that the S65 with all of its inner coolers and V12 Biturbo/AMG badges isn't sporty, I drive my Gallardo and he his F430. Mercedes did an incredible job with the S65 and continues to do so in 2008. I only recommend a seamless Bluetooth interface for at least the phone and music functions of my iPhone and ceramic rotors for cleaner wheels. Whether I am driving my S65 or my Lambo, I am always receiving congrats.
weho
Yes, you can have too much horsepower. If that horsepower is so restricted by electronic aids and practical physics that you can't use it, if it only serves to: (1) make the car heavier, (2) make it suck more gas, (3) feed the ego of the driver, and (4) cost a boatload of dollars, then yes, you have too much dern horsepower. I have actually ridden in one of these monstrosities (a big cheese in my company owns one, and yes, I live in AMG Country, also known as Los Angeles). From the passenger seat it felt light and quiet, and the exhaust note seemed distant, like it was coming from another car. Seeing as though this guy only drives it in traffic from downtown LA to his home maybe 10 miles away, those 604 horses are wasted.I'll stick with my 2006 Mazda MX-5, thank you very much. It's a ton more fun, and I make such good use of its horses, I feel like I know each one personally.
Klaatu
BMW made a handful of E38 M7s. I know because somebody in my neighborhood had one. I'm not sure how he got it or what the story was behind it; everybody is rich around here. Aside from this, I agree that BMW are more tuned to sportiness than MB...and thus little effort to produce a tuner barge like the AMG S.
mkab90
Schiz, also check out on YouTube TopGear's (or that other British car show which I can't remember) episode with the 2008 BMW M3 vs the 2008 C63 AMG. Just to let you know and spoil the episode, the C63 was SLIGHTLY (1mph) faster on the long straightaway (due to the M3 driver braking a lot earlier than that of the C63 but oh well) however the M3 smoked it on the turns! The C63 had a tendency to slide way too much and almost uncontrollably. This kind of ties in with the featured article o above: When is too much power too much?
mkab90
Hey Schiz, it's true that Bmw's M division doesn't have an S-class equivalent. I think the reason behind it though is that sport tuning and upgrades should mainly be put on sports cars. This seems to show the connection between the current M division of today with its racing past, whereas AMG decides to touch everything from little C-class sedans to monsters such as the S-class. This to me shows they don't really care for true performance; they just want to try and make Mercedes known for having all of their cars tunable, not select ones such as in BMW's M division.I heard that they were considering an M7 at one point but canceled the project. As for an S65 AMG equivalent, have you ever thought of the Alpina B7? Yes it might have 100 less horses but I guarantee you that it will demolish the S65 on the Nurburgring!
Tokengimp
Didn't you read the GT500 article? Too much power is power you can not use plain and simple.
MATT7122
Before they dashed into the electronic thicket Mercedes made some great cars. My '87 560SEC was a sheer joy to drive. It had ABS and airbags in the event of grevious driver error but other than that it allowed the driver to operate the car. Power was abundant but not overwhelming. In the wet tail out power slides were the nudge of the throttle away. Driven with enthusiam it would hustle down curvy roads with aplomb, while coddling its driver in more luxury than any sybriate could ask for. Top speed was impressive, braking stunning and handling at the hands of a competent driver neutral. Were it not for the fact a used 560SEC might require a $1500 dollar exhaust system of $2500 worth of AC repair work I'd still have one in the fleet. My guess is that when they gather at Barrett Jackson in 2060 to buy garage jewelry it won't be the new AMGS but the 80s 560SEC that will command the stupid money.
MATT7122
What Mercedes needs to add to this car is Electronic Ugliness Control. Seriously send the fender arch flares back to VW, they miss them. As for comments about American muscle cars I disagree. Having been fortunate enough to own several first generation (Boss 302, 428 Cobra Jet, Buick GS455, LS6 Chevelles) and second gen muscle cars (a variety of 5.0 Mustangs from 82 to 93 and a Buick GN) these relatively inexpensive cars were a pure hoot to drive. But you had to do just that. You had to drive them. The car didn't drive itself with an unholy set of electronic aids. If you told the car to do something stupid, it did so. If you knew how to control oversteer and understeer you could balance the car and make you passengers find God and want to hurl. I recall one evening giving a driver in a Turbo 911 fits in my 87 Mustang GT with a Paxton supercharger and aluminum heads to the point he finally backed the car into a field.
hammatime
AMG stands for ALL MIGHTY GOD!!!!THIS CAR IS FAST!!!!!!!!As long as it's got traction control and stability control,which it has-BRING ON THE H POWER!
mazdamaniac86
When is too much power too much power? Never!Just kidding, I think the S65 AMG might have gone overboard in the power department. 604 hp and 738 lbs-ft of torque? Good god almighty! Maybe it wouldn't need such insane power if it wasn't so bloody massive. Doesn't it weight somewhere near three tons? What the *** it is built out of? Lead?
bens65amg
All of you guys are idios who know nothing about cars. "too much hp", idiots is all i have to say thier is no such thing as too much HP or torque. You dumb americans dont know anything about cars like your idiotic muscle cars. Muscle cars are the most pointless and usless pieces of rubish on this planet.Thier heavy,dull,and cant handle any corners what so ever. To be honest with you thier is no point of the S,SL,and CL 65 AMGs Because of treaty that BMW,Mercedes,and Audi had to restric thier top speed to 155 mph. So its really pointless if you guys think about it logically. Your better off getting a Bentley Flying Spur for less money and wont depreciate like Mercs do. And look people can see what a bentley is much better looking, it has a top speed of 200mph unlike the mercs 155 and it tells people that you have arrived. Thier also wont be anyone denying you to a club or resturant if thats what your into. Dont get me wrong I love Mercedes and I love the S65 but its just not worth it and it wont give you that
jcammisa
GermanCarFan, thank you for your well-argued comment. Out of curiosity, I wonder what S-Class you own? We just announced our 2007 All Stars, and indeed the new '07 S-Class was on the list.The S550 is a magnificent blend of performance and luxury. Like its powerhouse predecessors, the W109 6.3, the W116 6.9, the W126 560SEL, and the normally-aspirated W140 and W220 S600 cars, it's fast and fluid.The S65 AMG, however, is quite different. Respectfully, current electronics, as good as they are, can't make up for a powertrain that completely overwhelms the rest of the chassis. I'm expecting the S63 AMG to be positively magnificent because it produces monstrous power, but in a manner that the chassis will be able to cope with.It's unfortunate, but the comment has been made quite correctly that, to many, AMG models are more about status than performance. And none is a better example in my opinion than the S65.Thanks for great conversation, guys!
66triumph
The key word here is BALANCE. You can only use the power you can put to the ground and the mass of the car is working against you all the way.Anyone who lives in Orange County, CA knows that AMG is simply a step up for people who think the "regular" Mercedes is not good enough. When your customers are only interested in the badge and the associated bragging rights ("I have more horsepower than you do - nyah nyah!"), it really doesn't matter if the car actually DRIVES worth a ***Drivers who derive pleasure from the dynamics of a well balanced vehicle would never consider purchasing this land yacht.
germancarfan
Mr. Johnson, first I would like to apologize to you for the complete lack of class that some of these comments have shown by attacking you personally. I do have to disagree with your sentiments, however. I completely agree that BMW's (and especially M cars) are dynamically far superior to Mercedes-Benz cars, but I would never own one. BMW's, in my opinion, give too much up in the name of overal luxury and comfort in the name of performance, and when you get to be my age the performance just doesn't matter as much anymore. To me, and most luxury sedan buyers, the ability of the car to accelerate in a straight line with all electronic aids engaged is most important, and Mercedes-Benz's are the best in the business in doing this (especially considering the effortlessness and smoothness with which they do it). I respect your opinion, but as a current S-Class owner I felt the need to voice my opinion as well.
eejohnson
Schiz, of course there are other modifications done to AMG's cars--I'm not stupid, and I've driven them all. But the fact remains the same: unless we're talking about the less-powerful AMG cars (i.e. the 63-series stuff right now), the power simply overwhelms the chassis. I like power slides as much as the next guy, but not out of every corner, and certainly not at a traffic light. The S65 may be *intended* to "work together to provide incredible performance," but it just doesn't. In fact, the S600 is a more balanced overall package.And I wasn't comparing the S65 to any specific vehicle, but rather AMG's philosophy to that of BMW's M division. I prefer a much more balanced car, where the steering, the brakes, the suspension, and the engine work in concert. But maybe that's just me .BMW's M cars, which receive a slightly more thorough reworking, have exemplified this for years, but the latest cars (Z4 M coupe/roadster, M5, M6) are beginning to feel way overpowered, too.Also: I've still got my balls.
schiz
This article is an absolute joke. You call yourselves an automobile magazine? You don't have a clue of what is going on.AMG did not just drop a Bi-Turbo V12 into the S and call it a S65. I would expect more from the "experts." The S65 is a total system designed to work together to deliver incredible performance.Exactly what M vehicle from BMW are you going to compare the S65 to? The M3, M5 or M6? Where is the full size sedan from M BMW?Your comments are pathetic for an objective car magazine, you all should be ashamed of yourselves.Riiiing riiiing, hello, Automobile Magazine here, how can we help you? This is BMW, we believe that you left your BALLS here when you visited.
chip
You can never have enough power. So AMG is just a engine option now?? AMG should be defined as performance division. Mercedes can use their SuperCar, GTP, and F1 teams to make the cars stand out. Can AMG produce a subtle version of the CLK DTM? Mercedes keeps the AMG too sedate,when it should be running with the M division.Time for Mercedes to shift some guys from Dodge's SRT division.
drich87
I think mercedes is taking the exclusivity out of the AMGs. no body really think of AMG as being that important because all the mercedes have it and some even have two different types of AMGs. I think the BMW's M group is much more admired because they are really taking time in fixing their car up to make it seem as an upgrade from the regular model.

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