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2011-03-14 12:12

TYRE SMOKING S-CLASS: Has all the luxury trimmings you can imagine. Fast enough to trouble supercars once up to speed too.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Model S63 AMG, S65 AMG
Engine 5.5l biturbo V8, 6l biturbo V12
Power 400kW (420kW) @ 5 500rpm, 463kW @ 4 800rpm
Torque 800Nm (900Nm) @ 2 000-4 500rpm, 1 000Nm @ 2 300rpm
Transmission Seven-speed MCT, five-speed
Zero To Hundred 4.4 sec
Top Speed 250km/h (300km/h)
Fuel Consumption 10.5l/100km, 14.3l/100km
Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class is generally regarded as the best range of luxury cars in the world.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz allowed AMG, its in-house performance arm, to start fiddling with certain S-Class derivatives, the traditional German limousine has become the hooligan chauffeur’s car of choice.

A range of naturally aspirated V8 and turbocharged V12 engines has ensured that Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class AMG cars have taken over the mantle as true high-performance limousines from Bentley in the new millennium.

Times are changing, though, and one of the most revered features of AMG’s contribution to Mercedes-Benz, Affalterbach’s M156 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, has been discontinued in the face of increasingly stringent emissions regulations.


The loss of AMG’s 6.2-litre V8 has not detracted from the S-Class performance limousine offering though. AMG’s solution for performance S-Class motoring is the new M157 engine, now available locally in the S63 AMG.

Despite being smaller than the unit it replaces, the new 5.5-litre M157 engine retains the M156 6.2’s oversquare internal architecture. New mechanical design features include twin-turbos with air and water-cooling, piezo actuated direct injection and a ventilated aluminium sub-assembly.

Instead of employing a pair of variable compression turbochargers, the M157 engine’s boost requirement is fed by a simple Garrett-Honeywell turbo per cylinder bank.

For a large capacity turbocharged engine compression appears a little on the high side (10.0:1), yet AMG’s air-to-liquid intercooler unit chills inlet temperatures down to around 90-degrees.

Output figures tally impressive gains over the M156 naturally aspirated V8 it replaces. The M157 offers an increase in power of 14kW over the M156, with torque swelling by an immense 170Nm.

Producing 400kW at 5500rpm (and 800Nm at 2000rpm) this new AMG engine is, statistically at least, a superb replacement for the M156. AMG’s engineers have even spent a fair amount of the development timetable perfecting the new M157’s acoustic signature, to ensure it matches the legendary V8 soundtrack of its 6.2-litre predecessor.

Power is channelled to the rear wheels courtesy of Mercedes-Benz’s seven-speed MCT transmission, actuated by a wet start-up clutch instead of a torque converter. AMG claims a benchmark 0-100km/h figure of 4.5 seconds for the new S63 AMG; hardly slow for a limousine weighing in excess of two tonnes.

HEART OF THE BEAST: AMG’s new 5.5-litre biturbo V8. With no Audi S8 or M-specification 7 Series around, Mercedes-Benz’s S63 AMG has no competition…

If customers require more power, AMG is happy to oblige with an optional performance pack for the M157 engine. A recalibrated boost regime (upping pressure from 1 to 1.3 bar) and harmonised engine electronics extract 20 more kW and 100Nm more torque.

The new outputs peaks of 420kW and 900Nm come at a price of R64 000.

AMG's engine and transmission control electronics are also bypassed as part of the performance package to allow owners access to the 420kW S63's 300km/h top speed potential, instead of buffering against the regulation 250km/h speed limiter.

Beyond its rampant performance credentials, AMG’s new bi-turbo S63 is appreciably more efficient than the naturally aspirated V8 it replaces. On demand ancillaries and stop-start functionally help reduce overall consumption to a claimed average of 10.5 litres/100km, an improvement of 3.9 over the outgoing 6.2-litre car; not that this is really of any consequence to the buyer profile operating at this upper end of the market.

To ensure the new S63 is as balanced a dynamic driving package as possible AMG’s engineers have added torque-vectoring ESP intervention, shoring up agility.

Torque vectoring technology is especially handy when tipping into a corner with too much speed. The car’s individual wheel accelerometers calculate the issue at hand then apply brake intervention to the inside wheel (depending on the cornering line) to tighten the S63’s posture and ensure you power to the apex instead of understeer off the road. 


Besides the S63, the headline S-Class AMG offering will remain V12-powered with a revised six-litre S65 AMG derivative capable of 463kW, catering for those customers who simply believe one can never have quite enough cylinders up front.

Optional extras are few and far between, with most items being trim-orientated such as piano black/carbon-fibre contrast interior finishes and AMG performance steering wheel.

The rear passenger entertainment package and a refrigerated cabin compartment (to keep the Champagne chilled) will probably be the most popular S65 AMG options to be ticked by customers. Potential S63 owners will be more predisposed to order the optional top-end Bang&Olufsen sound system (R76 900), which is standard on the S65 AMG.

If your the limousine driver in your employ happens to be a failed racing driver, well, a new S63 or S65 AMG is sure to tickle their fancy. The S63 AMG has been nominated as a finalist in the Performance Car category of the World Car of The Year awards for 2011.


S 63 AMG   R1 695 610
S 65 AMG   R2 245 100


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