Used 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S 65 AMG Review
For decades now, Mercedes-Benz flagship sedans and coupes have been benchmarks for the rest of the automotive industry, representing engineering excellence, opulent luxury and state-of-the-art features that often not only trickle down to cheaper Mercedes models, but to other brands as well. That certainly applies to the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, a car that feels every bit as special and potentially groundbreaking as its illustrious predecessors.
After the current, all-new generation debuted last year, 2015 sees some previous family members return. The V12-powered S600 and S 65 AMG models rejoin the S-Class lineup after a year off, with the former boasting a bigger and more powerful engine than the previous generation's version. Most notably, though, the S-Class coupe name makes its return after nearly two decades. Like the CL-Class it replaces, though, the new S-Class coupe provides the same opulent interior quality and driving experience as the S-Class sedan, but with sleeker, two-door styling highlighted by a lack of a central B-pillar. As a result, there's really nothing like windows-down motoring in a big Benz coupe.
These new additions only bolster the S-Class' status as one of the finest cars on the road. Indeed, the latest-generation sedan feels like a step above traditional, admittedly cheaper competitors like the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series in its design, quality, technology and overall luxury ambience. Instead, it seems far closer to an upper-echelon brand like Bentley -- especially the coupe, which stands as the only real apples-to-apples competitor for the Bentley Continental GT. No matter what you compare them to, however, the 2015 S-Class sedan and coupe definitely can be considered benchmarks.
performance & mpg
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 is powered by a turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 engine good for 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard on the sedan. 4Matic all-wheel drive is optional on the sedan and standard on the S550 coupe. At the Edmunds test track, a rear-wheel-drive S550 sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is quick but ultimately on par with similarly powered flagship luxury sedans. A S550 coupe 4Matic in our testing reached 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the S-Class varies by engine, and is 20 mpg combined (17 city/26 highway) for the S550 sedan. Opting for 4Matic all-wheel drive lowers those figures to 19 mpg combined (16/26). The coupe is rated at 19 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway).
The S600 has a turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 good for 523 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. The seven-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard, and 4Matic is unavailable. Mercedes estimates it will reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg combined (13 city/21 highway).
The S 63 gets a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that produces 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. A more performance-oriented version of 4Matic and a different, specialized seven-speed automatic transmission are standard. In Edmunds testing, the S 63 sedan hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Mercedes estimates the S 63 coupe will get there in 3.9. Fuel economy estimates for the sedan and coupe stand at 18 mpg combined (15 city/23 highway). The sedan achieved 16.5 mpg on the Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route.
The S 65 gets a different turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 good for 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. It gets the same performance-oriented transmission as the S 63, but rear-wheel drive is standard on both the sedan and coupe. Mercedes estimates they will both reach 60 in about 4 seconds -- a number that doesn't really speak to their prodigious power. Fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg combined (13/20) for the sedan and 16 mpg combined (13/21) for the coupe.
Finally, the S550 Plug-In Hybrid features a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and an electric motor integrated within the seven-speed automatic transmission. Together, they generate a total of 436 hp. A lithium-ion battery resides under the trunk floor and should be recharged in less than three hours. This S-Class Plug-In Hybrid can drive using only electric power, unlike the previous-generation's mild-hybrid S400. Expect an electric-only range of about 20 miles and a 0-60 time of about 5 seconds. No EPA fuel economy estimates were announced at the time of this writing.
Every 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes standard with traction and stability control (with crosswind mitigation), antilock brakes, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Standard electronic safety features include a rearview camera, a driver inattention warning system and a collision prevention system that will warn the driver of a potential collision and fully apply the brakes if necessary.
The Driver Assistance package (standard on the S600 and S 65) includes an active blind-spot warning system (will steer you back to your lane if you fail to heed its warning), an active lane-departure warning system (ditto), pedestrian recognition for the collision prevention system, a rear-impact detection and preparedness system and an advanced adaptive cruise control system that not only matches the speed of the car in front of you, but will also apply the brakes and accelerator in stop-and-go traffic and keep you in your lane. Effectively, it drives for you on a gridlocked freeway.
Other options include a night vision system (detects pedestrians and animals through infrared sensors and displays them in the instrument panel) and a surround-view parking camera system. Mercedes' mbrace emergency telematics includes automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle location assistance, alarm notification, an SOS emergency services button, geo-fencing for valets and teenage drivers and remote vehicle controls (via mobile app or computer) that can unlock or lock the car, for instance.
In Edmunds brake testing, an S550 sedan with all-season tires came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 115 feet. The S550 coupe with summer tires stopped 2 feet shorter. An S 63 AMG sedan stopped in 108 feet, which is typical for a performance car on summer tires.
Effortless. That's how the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class feels when you're behind the wheel. The steering is fairly light, and when equipped with lane-keeping assist and/or Distronic Plus cruise control, it will even subtly steer the car for you. Still, you'll be surprised at how adeptly this very large sedan and coupe will hunker down and go around a corner. So well-rounded is the S-Class Sedan that it earned an Edmunds "A" rating for both the S550 and S 63 AMG. It should come as no surprise then, that the S550 Coupe also earned our top "A" rating as well.
You may think you've enjoyed a comfortable ride before, but it most likely pales in comparison to the adjustable air suspension fitted as standard to the S-Class. Not only does it iron out bumps, it does so without a hint of floatiness. Plus, the ride gets even better with the sedan's optional Magic Body Control. Utilizing a windshield-mounted camera, the car detects bumps and other imperfections in the road ahead and automatically adjusts the air suspension to compensate. We're not exaggerating when we say that large speed humps can feel more like pebbles.
The way the regular S550 gets up to speed is also, well, effortless. Acceleration from the turbo V8 is ferocious, yet its noises are reduced to a whisper inside the cocoon-like cabin. You're more likely to hear the AMG models, but they're not as vociferous as other AMG models. You're also more likely to get into trouble with Johnny Law since they get up to speed quicker than many sports cars.
The cabins of most flagship luxury cars feel like bigger, fancier versions of "lesser" models, sharing a general design aesthetic and many control components. Not so the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Even within the company, there is a clear differentiation between it and other Mercedes models, indicating that this is a special car that exists above the rest. Even things like the seat control buttons are bespoke to the S-Class. More important, however, there is an elegance and sense of opulence here that make it feel more like a competitor for a Bentley than a BMW.
Beyond aesthetics, few cars can approach the new S-Class' comfort and infotainment features. The standard seats are lovely, but you'd be nuts not to select the Premium 1 package's multicontour seats with their additional adjustments, ventilation and six massage settings. That's right, six. One even simulates a hot stone massage by utilizing the seat's heating elements. And just in case your rear passengers are the jealous sort, the same opulent front seat features (including adjustments) are available in the sedan's enormous backseat. Plus, you can add an entertainment system, airplane-style pop-out tables and even a fridge. Those aren't available on the coupe, but even its backseat is pretty generously sized for a two-door car.
All of its many infotainment functions are controlled by the latest iteration of Mercedes' COMAND system, which remains one of the most user-friendly around (even if its immense number of functions renders it a tad overwhelming at first). Compared with the setup in other Mercedes-Benz models, the S-Class' upgraded COMAND interface features a colossal central screen, unique graphics, a new-for-2015 touchpad controller and a different physical button layout (buttons for frequently used functions are grouped around the main control knob rather than on the dash). Immediately adjacent to the infotainment screen is the instrument panel, which itself is an equally large display screen complete with simulated digital gauges.
The trunk, as you might expect from a 17-foot-long sedan, is sufficiently large at 16.3 cubic feet. Note, however, that the available 24-speaker Burmester high-end sound system "significantly" reduces trunk space, according to Mercedes. The S550 Plug-in Hybrid also has a smaller trunk (12.2 cubic feet) because of its battery pack.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.