2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe First Test
An Emerald Green Lesson in Luxury Overdose
The way it used to work was simple. Mercedes made a two-door version of the iconic S-Class, slapped a CL badge on the butt, and counted the cash. Wealthy folks -- typically men between the ages of 50 and 60 who earn between $600,000 and $2 million a year -- would buy one and then another, then get bored with CLs and purchase a Bentley Continental GT. Rinse, wash, repeat. The volume was low and the design was a secondary priority, but the margins were dripping with green. Recently, a few things happened. One is that Mercedes has simplified its naming conventions. Part of the renaming process is that what we used to know as the CL is now called the S-Class Coupe. Another is that somebody in Stuttgart wised up and asked, “Why the hell are we losing customers to Bentley?” Finally, the biggest two-door Mercedes makes is beautiful. An actual knockout. The resulting object d’art -- this top-of-the-heap S65 AMG Coupe -- has left my head spinning.
Pardon me for speaking in jabs, but I’m feeling punchy. The dark and sparkly green S65 AMG Coupe is gorgeous, inside and out. The interior is the finest I’ve ever seen on a production car, full stop. The $1,300 Designo lacquer flowing-lines trim framing the dashboard is stunning. The lines fan out like a comet’s tail, reminiscent of the brightwork on prewar deco cars. Specifically it calls to mind the fender vents of a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe. Consider it a must-have option. The unique, curved dash reminds me of a Pagani Huayra. The new baller Benz makes that Italian exotic the possessor of the second-finest interior extant. You like those gorgeous, drilled Burmester speaker grilles? The S65 Coupe is stuffed with them. Every direction you look there’s one more -- above the seatbelt opening, taking up half the door, between the rear seats -- everywhere. The ample, comfy, massaging seats are not only massively adjustable, they’re downright handsome, too. The entire automotive industry had better come and take a gander. No one’s seen anything like the inside of this baby.
You can probably get a similar interior in a S63 or (God forbid) a S550 Coupe, but that would be like an inside-out Fierroghini. Let’s talk about what makes the S65 AMG so ultra-decadent, up to the $233,525 starting price. Namely, the hand-built 6.0-liter, twin-turbo V-12 that produces 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Internally known as the M275, this V-12 has been around for more than a decade, but 738 lb-ft of torque is 738 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than any Bentley Continental GT has to offer, though somewhat less than the bananas Mulsanne Speed and its 811 lb-ft of twist. But never mind the cars from Crewe. You know of any other 4,753-pound, RWD coupes that can hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat? I did not think so. Well, OK, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat weighs a few mink stoles less and does so in 3.7 seconds. But the Hellcat doesn’t have a champagne fridge located between the rear seats. The S65 Coupe runs through the quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds at 117.8 mph. It stops from 60 mph in a tidy 106 feet; credit the ridiculous (and optional) carbon-ceramic brakes. It can pull a max lateral acceleration of 0.92 g. Not that it matters to anyone in the world, but this big, beautiful AMG completes our figure-eight course in 24.9 seconds, exactly the same as a Volkswagen Golf R. Pretty slick, if you ask me.
Let’s not overlook Dynamic Curve, part of the tragicomically named Magic Body Control suspension. MBC uses the built-in stereo cameras to look at the road surface ahead and adjust the suspension accordingly. I like to think of MBC as speed-bump delete. Using the same cameras, Dynamic Curve looks at the twists and turns ahead and actively leans the S65 Coupe into a corner. The results, while not exactly magic, are close. The overall sense of suffocating luxury is increased to drowning in it when you smoothly and confidently tackle a convoluted canyon. Think of it as image stabilization for a car. Instead hurling you towards the door, the active body lean pushes your rump into the seat. Moreover, the steering feel suddenly seems glazed. What won’t they think of next?
If you’re wondering, yes, I have some gripes. One is that the heavy doors don’t have little detents in the hinges. So if you’re pointing even slightly uphill and try to get out of the car, the door will try to close against you. Not elegant. Also, the throttle needs to be remapped. We know that when fully opened up, the mighty M275 V-12 is a thoroughbred beast. But the S65 Coupe feels laggy around town. I found myself -- just like in the Mercedes-Maybach S600 -- driving around with the transmission/throttle in Sport mode. Luckily, AMG is wise enough to leave Sport engaged even after you exit the vehicle and then turn the car back on. But really, you shouldn’t have to press anything. Moreover, why are they in any way hiding the fury of the engine? I (ha ha) just paid $252,000 for the car. Let me have all of it! Oh, and while the fridge is cute, it really eats into the trunk space. And why no humidor?
The gripes are minor and shouldn’t be the focus of your feelings about the S65 AMG Coupe. I’m a lucky son of a bitch who gets to drive a sickening amount of AMG products. But aside from the G63 6x6, I’ve never seen so many people stop and freak out over anything from Affalterbach. The big coupe -- especially in this paint color -- stinks of special. It possesses that all-important X-factor, that almost indefinable attribute that separates the S65 AMG Coupe from nearly everything else on the road. If I had the money I would buy it, but this car goes beyond that. The Bentley Continental and Rolls-Royce Wraith are also big, sexy, expensive, luxury coupes with even more impressive badges. But can I honestly claim they’re better cars? Not anymore.
|2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$252,675|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||6.0L/621-hp/738-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 48-valve V-12|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,753 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||198.6 x 74.8 x 56.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.3 sec @ 117.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||106 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.92 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.9 sec @ 0.82 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||13/21/16 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||259/160 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.24 lb/mile|