MSRP
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2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.1

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class handles well for a car of its size, but it really stands out for its incredibly cushioned ride. Even its base engine delivers plenty of power, and there are high-performance trims with lightning-quick acceleration. Fuel economy is OK compared to the rest of the class.

  • "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 (2018)
  • "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 (2018)
  • "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 (2018)

Acceleration and Power

Each S-Class trim comes with its own powertrain. S 450 models feature a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 362 horsepower. This engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Even the base engine delivers plenty of power and reasonably good acceleration, but it's not nearly as strong as the larger engines.

S 560 models feature a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that produces 463 horsepower. Acceleration is noticeably better in the 560, and as you might guess, a 463-horsepower engine never feels underpowered, even in such a large car.

There are two high-performance trims as well. The AMG S 63 features a 603-horsepower 4.0-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).

According to EPA estimates, the S 450 gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Those aren't the worst ratings in the class, though a few rivals have better ratings. V8-equipped models see fuel economy drop to about 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Models with the V12 get the worst numbers: 13/22 mpg city/highway.

  • "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 (2018)
  • "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 (2018)
  • "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 (2018)

Handling and Braking

This large sedan handles well for its size, and the AMG models are pretty agile, but this is not a sports car. This Mercedes is most at home as a luxury cruiser. It's easy to drive and rides smoothly for hours, making long-distance trips a breeze, especially if you engage some of the semiautonomous driving technology (though be sure to maintain your focus if you do).

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. Dynamic Select also comes standard, which lets you choose from different modes that tailor the car's driving dynamics to your liking. The available Magic Body Control system helps make the ride even smoother. It uses a camera to scan the road for imperfections and then adjusts the suspension accordingly.

  • "The entire S-Class line, AMG models excluded, is far better driven on long stretches on the highway than flung around tight corners. Engage the adaptive cruise control and steering-assist system, and the S-Class practically drives itself, keeping a safe distance from the traffic ahead and changing lanes with just a tap of the driver's finger. During our time cruising the narrow roads of Connecticut, the S-Class did drift in lanes more than we liked, prompting us to remind drivers that this technology is there to aid, but not replace, a human behind the wheel." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2018)
  • 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 (2018)
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