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S65 AMG: When is too much power too much?

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).

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Buying Guide
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2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

MSRP $176,400 S63 AMG 4MATIC Cabriolet

Horse Power:

449 @ 5250

Torque:

516 @ 1800