Four-Door, Five-Passenger, Super Sedan

The top-of-the-line Mercedes sedan, the S class, has tons of features and tons of horsepower.

But put the AMG initials on this Mercedes, and there is a major shift up in the power, handling, braking and feature trail. AMG is the specialty manufacturer for Mercedes that more than tweaks these German cars.

In the case of the S class, after the AMG work is done, the 6.3-liter V-8 reaches a stunning 518 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. Meaning that in real life, this five-passenger luxury cruiser will reach 60 mph in a blistering 4.5 seconds working through a seven-speed transmission.

Calling a halt, if needed, are 15-inch front brake rotors and over-14-inch rear brake rotors clamped on to 20-inch, five-spoke AMG special alloy wheels.

Besides the expected luxury features, a number of others need to be mentioned. Instead of the commonly available backup warning system, this one covers all four corners. Further, before changing lanes, a glance at the side mirror is helpful because if a red arrow appears, there is a car in your blind spot.

On the safety front, computerization also has paid a visit in two ways. A system titled Distronic Plus senses that you are approaching a vehicle too closely and begins automatically applying the brakes. Likewise if a collision is likely, a radar-assisted system will increase braking power instantly.

Surprisingly, this Mercedes boasts two front video screens. In the center of the dash is a large color screen showing audio, climate, navigation and other data. When the gearshift lever (more about that later) is placed in reverse, a rear camera highlights what is behind the car.

But in the dash pod is the true surprise. Normally the speedometer, tachometer and other information are shown on what clearly are not mechanical gauges. But at night, with the press of a button, the “gauges” disappear and a large screen shows, with the use of infrared technology, what is in front of the car better than normal eyesight would.

By simply carrying the “key” near the car, the driver’s door will unlock, and by touching a start button, the low growl of the powerful V-8 is felt. Instead of a traditional gearshift lever, a small lever on the steering column is moved to the gear sought. Once in drive, automatic shifting can be changed with a Formula One-type plus or minus gear paddle behind the steering wheel.

Interior fit and finish is first-rate. A relatively small amount of wood contrasts with leather and lots of metal covered dials and buttons. Nicely bolstered leather front seats hold both the driver and passenger in place.

With a super-sized tire and wheel combination and outstanding cornering, one would expect a trade off in the ride department. But it is not so. Uneven road conditions are handled with care. Obviously, plenty of power is instantly available.

All in all, this Mercedes makes you want to sing that old Janis Joplin song with this lament:

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,

So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Mercedes S63 AMG

Engine: 6.3 Liter, V-8, 518 Horsepower

Acceleration: 0-60: 4.5 Seconds

Braking: 4 Wheel Disc Brakes, 15.4 Inch Front Rotor, 14.4 Inch Rear Rotor

Sound System: Harman/Kardon, 600 Watts, 6 Cd Changer, Voice Command System