2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Performance


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2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.2

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has nimble handling for a car of its size, as well as a smooth ride and powerful engine options. There are also high-performance trims with lightning-quick acceleration. The S-Class' adaptive suspension keeps the ride enjoyable over bumps and dips in the road.

  • "The 4.0-liter V8 makes the nearly 2.5-ton sedan feel positively lithe, and the transmission manages that power smoothly until switched into Sport or Sport+ modes, which add a bit more character and crispness to the otherwise quick shifts. Accelerating hard in this massive sedan is all but irresistible because of how improbable it feels to hustle this mass so swiftly." -- Autoblog
  • "But being an S-Class, the S63 is more than just a hot rod. Flip the dial from Sport+ to Comfort and everything just calms down; the exhaust goes quiet, the steering softens, the suspension becomes more comfortable, the accelerator pedal isn't as sensitive and the transmission reverts to a more relaxed state. There's still plenty of power in reserve if you need it, but the S63 is the kind of Jekyll and Hyde car that can go front hot rod to posh ride in the blink of an eye." -- Left Lane News
  • "The first thing I noticed was how spry and agile the full-size [S 560] sedan felt while driving. It seemed to handle more like a midsize sport sedan weighing thousands of pounds less than a behemoth tipping the scales at nearly two and a half tons. Acceleration was admirable, and its impressive handling allowed me to weave through slower traffic until I left most of the NYC congestion behind me." -- Autotrader

Acceleration and Power

S-Class powertrains vary according to trim. The S 450 features a 362-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that's mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The S 450 won’t blow you away, but it has plenty of power, and the transmission pairs well with the engine. S 560 models come with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 463 horsepower. These models move with more energy than the base trim, and they provide better acceleration.

The S 450 gets typical fuel economy for the class, earning EPA ratings of 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The S 560 with its larger engine gets slightly worse ratings – 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

There are two high-performance trims as well. The AMG S 63 features a 603 horsepower, 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that's mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes claims it will go from zero to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. The AMG S 65 comes with a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that produces an outrageous 621 horsepower. It's paired with a seven-speed automatic. Despite all that power, it’s actually a little slower than the S 63. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 4 seconds flat (4.2 seconds in the sedan).

  • "Behind the wheel, the power differences of the newer engines aren't really all that palpable. The car's all-new 9-speed automatic transmission, however, helps the updated 2018 S-Class feel a bit smoother and quicker, thanks to its close ratios and slick, easy shifts. No doubt the new 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system plays a role in making the car feel quicker off the line, too." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "What matters is that the S450's torque curve is as wide and fat as back bacon, with the full allotment on tap from 1800 to 4500 rpm. On the road, this means the 4700-pound sedan is not the lug we've come to expect of an S-class with anything less than eight cylinders. Accept the car's inability to vaporize slower drivers—something the S560 and AMG models do effortlessly—and then realize it still has verve. … And by the seat of our heated, massaged, and automatically bolstered pants, the new S450 sure feels at least that quick." -- Car and Driver
  • "Starting with the new S 450, even in base form the 362-horsepower V6 has more than adequate muscle to hustle this full-size luxury sedan. The 0-60-mph mark arrives in just around five seconds, which not long ago was sports-car territory. Still, there's something natural about a V8 S-Class, and the 463-horsepower S 560 has all the scoot you'll likely ever need." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The S-Class comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is available. Mercedes’ Airmatic adaptive suspension system comes standard, which contributes to the S-Class’ serene ride. Mercedes' Magic Body Control system, which uses a camera to scan the road for imperfections and then adjusts the suspension accordingly, is available and helps make the ride even smoother. This car also handles well; it remains planted around curves and there is virtually no body lean. The performance-oriented AMG models deliver almost sports-car caliber agility.

  • "Mercedes refers to the S63 as the 'athlete of the group,' and after spending several miles behind the wheel, we can see why. With a total length of 208.5 inches and a curb weight of 4,800 pounds, the S63 isn't a small vehicle. However, with the S63's drive mode switched to the most aggressive Sport+ setting, the big sedan seems to shrink around you. Steering is sharp, and the sport-oriented AIRMATIC air suspension provides an extremely planted feeling with virtually no body lean. You're only reminded of the S63's sheer size when navigating narrow lanes or tight corners." -- Left Lane News
  • The suspension is pliant and easygoing, with enough body control to encourage swift driving on b-roads. While the S560 is more biased toward all-day comfort rather than out-and-out carving, our tester was equipped with the so-called Curve Tilting option. … The feature enables the car's air suspension dampers to lean into corners in order to reduce the perceived G-load on passengers; with up to 2.65 degrees of body lean, the S560 seems to corner completely flat, a sensation that might seem strange to those accustomed to the reassuring feel of slight body roll." -- Autoblog
  • "Effortless. That's really the best way to describe driving 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. 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." -- Edmunds (2017)
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