Mercedes S-Class Becomes AM(azingly) G(runty)

What am I looking at?

This is the latest addition to the Mercedes S-Class range and sits firmly atop it - the S 65 AMG

So what's new?

The new engine, and how. A V12-powered flagship called S 65 has been a feature of the last two generations of S-Class and this fills that brief - taking over from the V8 S 63 AMG launched with the rest of the range.

What powers it?

It's a big old brute - a six litre, biturbo V12, producing around 630 hp and 723 lb-ft.

Even without the 4WD system that our right-hand drive cars don't get, that's good enough to hurl 2 tonnes of luxury car to 60 mph in 4.3s and on to a limited top speed of 155 mph - though our quick back-of-an-envelope calculations suggest it'll push on to 204mph without that limiter.

Surprisingly, the massive mill still returns 23.7mpg on the combined cycle. That's not good enough to drag it down out of the top VED band - so you're looking at over a grand for your first year's tax and nearly 500 a year thereafter - but it's not an unreasonable thirst.

Anything else?

The list of technology in the S-Class is sufficient to need a website all to itself and the overwhelming majority of it is standard on this flagship model. However if you're after a few boxes to tick, one to look at is the carbon ceramic brake option. The massive 420 mm discs are fade free - very useful in hauling up a 2 tonne car from 204 mph. There's no price list yet, but they are a 7,000 option on the S 63.

How much will it cost me?

There's no confirmation on UK pricings right now, but we'd expect it to come in at no less than 135,000.

Any alternatives?

It's an extremely exclusive car, but nevertheless there are rivals. The Aston Martin Rapide is probably going to be a significant challenger, with the badge alone providing the allure, but it's much more of a driver's car than the S-Class. It would seem that the most similar car is Bentley's Continental Flying Spur and as a car to be driven in, the S 65 is going to have a hard time competing - the fuel economy is dire by comparison, but in a fight between six-figure cars it seems almost moot.

Oddly, the most major rival may end up being lower-order S-Class models, like the S 500 LWB, specced up with a trip to the options list - they're cheaper to buy and run, losing out only the odd half second in the 60mph sprint...

In a line...

The self-styled 'best car in the world', but a little bit faster.

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