There’s nothing quite like being handed the key to a car costing R3.5 million. Especially when the apartment you live in costs around half of that. However, we can assure you that after a week in what is essentially a rolling version of Vladimir Putin’s formal lounge, a car this expensive certainly makes you feel special. If you do have a few million Rand to splash on a car, chances are you’re the sort of person who likes to be driven. For your money there are many luxury cars which provide sumptuous limo-like space in the rear.
But if you have Russian oligarch levels of wealth, sometimes you want to actually drive in pure, unadulterated luxury. It is for this customer that Mercedes Benz has created a very special car.
The S65 AMG Coupe replaces the CL in the company’s line up, and is currently the most expensive Mercedes Benz available in South Africa, with a list price of around R3.1 million. That price is very optimistic, given the extra options available. Playing around on Merc’s car configurator, we reckon this test unit was worth around R3 435 500.
Engine OutputsIt is also the most powerful Mercedes ever, and the tenth most powerful car in the whole world, in terms of torque. What an engine. A 6.0 litre Biturbo V12 with 463kW and 1000Nm of torque. To put those figures into perspective, that’s more power than the latest Ferrari 488, and more power than a Bentley Continental W12 – the S65 AMG Coupe’s key rival. There's more torque than two Mercedes-Benz A45 AMGs... combined.
It is a typical V12 with equal parts smooth and brutal, a delicate balance in which Mercedes seems to specialise. A cold start greets you with a deep, grumpy growl, which settles into a confident burble. The engine is so powerful that the car only uses second gear to pull off in most drive modes. Engage sport mode and onlookers are treated to artillery-like backfires from the quad exhausts at full throttle.
Cabin and TechnologyThe cabin is significantly nicer than most apartments. Two huge flatscreens dominate the swooping wood and leather dash, displaying everything from DVDs to a night vision camera which highlights pedestrians automatically in complete darkness. Fit and finish is remarkable. The quality of workmanship in here is the best we have ever come across in a production car.
The touchpad and wheel enables you to control every aspect of the infotainment, navigation and telephone. If we have a criticism, it’s one that is mostly due to economies of scale. This centre jog wheel, resting underneath a floating touch pad, is identical to the one found in the C-Class, a car which has a sticker price roughly ten times less than the S65 AMG Coupe. Perhaps the interior engineers at Mercedes reasoned that a buyer of an S Coupe would never be seen dead in a C Class, so they’ll never find out anyway.
You control the massage function from here too; six types are on offer for driver and passenger. The front seats, which are enormous and enormously comfortable, can be heated, cooled and electronically morphed to perfectly fit your body. They are exceptionally large and comfortable, almost giving the impression that the car was built around them, rather than vice versa.
Rear passengers don’t have nearly as much legroom as you and any passenger would battle to sit behind a driver of tall height. The car is comfortable for three adults on long journeys, with the passenger seat slid forward.
Is fuel consumption important when you’re spending over R3 million on a car? If you must know, after an afternoon of enthusiastic driving, the result of which you’ll be able to see in our upcoming videos, the big Merc achieved 20L/100km. On relaxed motorway journeys we achieved around 15L/100km. Not surprising, as all I really did was receive a massage and allow the Distronic radar cruise control system to handle the actual driving, with the Steering Assist system keeping the car between the white lines.
It’s all quite magical. Magical is a word that Merc loves. Firstly, there’s Magic Body Control, which uses two cameras mounted behind the rear-view mirror to scan the road ahead and set up the suspension to handle the upcoming imperfections. If a pothole is only going to affect the left wheels, it balances the system accordingly. The system will also lower the suspension on the inside wheels to lean the car into the corner, a bit like a motorbike.
There’s also Magic Sky Control, which at the flick of a button, sends electric current through the roof glass, to tint it dark from clear or vice versa. This works well and almost completely blocks out the sun.
How Does It Drive?Regardless, the remarkable thing is given the level of comfort, given the sheer size of the thing, you’d expect it to handle like a speedboat. At pace, it instills confidence in the driver to push, which is delightful and unexpected. On a twisty mountain pass, I think the S65 AMG Coupe could keep up with some seriously quick cars, especially given the way it devours anything resembling a straight stretch of road.
The feeling of acceleration, when the rear tyres get traction, is surreal. The surge is relentless, and so powerful that it activates those instincts in your body which tell you something is really not right, and that you should probably cease this activity immediately. It’s wonderful.
The week before I drove the S65 AMG Coupe, I spent a few days in the CLS 63 AMG. While that car makes a wonderful racket from its biturbo V8, it felt like it wanted to murder me, especially in the rain. The S65 AMG Coupe is not like that at all. It's planted, well balanced and extraordinarily comfortable.
Summary and ConclusionThere are some venerable, ultra-luxury coupes on the market. The Bentley Continental has set the standard for years. But we've never been in a car which combines exceptional technology with exquisite detail quite like this. Mercedes can be very proud of this one; at any price, this could be one of the best cars ever built.
Mercedes Benz S65 AMG Coupe Price in South AfricaThe S65 AMG Coupe is priced from R3 087 013 and comes with a two-year/unlimited km warranty and six-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.
The Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe is quite easily the ultimate car. Not only does it offer superb performance, but its also achingly pretty and jammed with some incredible tech. As far as motor vehicle perfection goes, this is probably the greatest and is priced well, given the calibre of its competition - David Taylor
We Like: Incredible levels of luxury, tech, comfort and power
We Don’t Like: Some bits and pieces also available in lesser models. The optional carbon ceramic brakes can be a bit noisy, and although that’s normal, it is irksome in such a prestigious car.
Also consider: Bentley Continental W12, Rolls Royce Wraith, Ferrari FF, Aston Martin Vanquish