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The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is, for many, the benchmark of the full-size luxury segment. Mercedes says it's the best car in the world. Competing for buyers with such formidable cars as the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, Tesla Model S, and Jaguar XJ, the S-Class's reign is anything but guaranteed--though the latest generation is unquestionably the best S-Class yet.
All of these cars deserve both attention and adulation, but the S-Class's approach to the business leaves no room for doubt: it's playing to win. The newest S-Class backs up its claim with attention to the most minute details, from its personal relationship with the driver to the emotional attachment it inspires in its owners--even if they're firmly committed to the back seat. The new S-Class even provides its own scent to strengthen the bond.
Like the latest E-Class, the S-Class no longer looks like a composite of competing design theories. The grille's bracketed by new banks of LEDs that frame out the headlamps--LEDs also, since there's no incandescent lighting on the new S-Class whatsoever. The clarified look continues down the side, with the profusion of surfaces toned down to a shoulder line that tapers down toward the rear wheel, and a sill line that draws up and in toward the same. The taillamps are composed from fiber-optic LEDs and wrap more finely around the rear quarters. One pan across its panels, and it's clear the CLS-Class has had an enduring effect on all Mercedes cars.
As Mercedes pivots from one generation of S-Class to the next, it's paring most of the sedan's drivetrains from the lineup, at least for the time being.
None of the niche offerings in the S-Class family carry over into 2014, at least at launch--not the V-12s, not the turbodiesel six, and not the hybrid. The sole engine and transmission combination is the twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine that was new last year, teamed to a seven-speed automatic with paddle shift controls and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. The AMG model arrives in the U.S. this November.
Power rises in the V-8 in the new S550 application; it's up from 429 horsepower to 455 hp, enabling the car to hit 60 mph in about 4.8 seconds or less, to a top speed of 155 mph. In the last-generation sedan, we found this powertrain to be a real-world joy, with plenty of power on reserve, and just a little turbo whistle to augment its surge of acceleration. If you'd like your S-Class to approach Olympian levels of power, there's the S63 AMG, rated at 577 horsepower and a monstrous 664 pound-feet of torque. Despite the punch of the extra power, the S63 AMG gives up little in the way of comfort or refinement--and it even manages to look rather restrained, though a sharp eye will pick it out from the non-AMG crowd.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.