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Mercedes-Benz S-class

The driver’s seat is even better than the back seat.

HYBRID

DIESEL

The back seat of the S-class is fit for CEOs and dignitaries, but the driver’s seat isn’t just for chauffeurs. Mercedes-Benz’s flagship is also a driver’s delight, thanks to its balanced chassis, superb steering, and supple ride. Efficiency-minded buyers have their pick of hybrid or diesel with the S-class. The refined, authoritative turbo-diesel V-6 is projected to earn a rating of 20/31 mpg from the EPA, but it is slow to respond of the line and during downshifts. For now, though, Mercedes is the only company to offer a diesel in a flagship luxury sedan. The S400 Hybrid was the first gas/electric car to use lithium-ion batteries. It delivers impressive fuel economy and smooth acceleration from its V-6 engine and electric motor, but at 19/25 mpg, it isn’t as efficient as the diesel. The rest of the lineup focuses on speed, not economy. The S550 is powered by a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 and accelerates to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Next up the food chain is the 510-hp S600 supersedan with a twin-turbo V-12 engine that accomplishes the same task in 4.5 seconds. Then there’s the 536-hp S63 AMG with the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 that has replaced the 6.2-liter normally aspirated V-8. All those luxorockets, however, are left behind by the ludicrously fast S65 AMG and its twin-turbo V-12 that makes 621 hp and a massive 738 lb-ft of torque.

COMPETITORS

Audi A8

BMW 7-series

Jaguar XJ

Lexus LS

new for 2013

The current S-class is nearing the end of its life cycle, and it shows in that Mercedes has hardly touched the car for 2013. The Premium 2 package, with massaging front seats, push-button ignition, and parking sensors, is now standard on the S350 BlueTec, S400 Hybrid, and S550. Expect significant changes in a year or two; the next S-class should arrive with more than one body style.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; tire-pressure monitoring; and driver-drowsiness alert are standard. Buyers can opt for night vision with pedestrian detection, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 12–20

HWY 19–31

PRO

Diesel and hybrid options

Supple ride

Gorgeous cabin

CON

Not as agile as an A8 or a 7-series

In need of a redesign

Base Price Range: $93,255–$212,905

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: S350 BlueTec, S400 Hybrid, S550, S600, S63 AMG, S65 AMG

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 3.0L turbo-diesel V-6, 240 hp, 455 lb-ft

3.5L V-6/electric hybrid, 275 hp, 258 lb-ft

4.7L twin-turbo V-8, 429 hp, 516 lb-ft

5.5L twin-turbo V-8, 536/563 hp, 590/664 lb-ft

5.5L twin-turbo V-12, 510 hp, 612 lb-ft

6.0L twin-turbo V-12, 621 hp, 738 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 7-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 125.0 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 16.4 cu ft

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