by Jared Rosenholtz
Within the extensive Mercedes-Benz coupe family, one car reigns supreme. The Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe takes everything we know about the range-topping S-Class sedan and wraps it in a svelte, alluring coupe body. It's for the elite businessman who not only wants to experience the apex of luxury and technology but also wants to do so from the driver's seat. Under the hood rests a handcrafted 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 from AMG which produces 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Sending power to the rear wheels, 0-60 mph is nonchalantly dispatched in just four seconds. With Mercedes' Magic Body Control and one of the most gorgeous cabins in the business, the S65 Coupe glides down the road with a level of authority and serenity that places it alongside the likes of the Bentley Continental GT. Mercedes has thrown virtually every one of its advanced driver aids at the S65, with night view assist, evasive steering assist, and congestion emergency braking combining ultimate luxury with semi-autonomous driving. At well over $200k, the S65 Coupe is a decadent privilege that few will have access to, and for the rest of us? Well, one can dream.
Very little has changed for the 2019 S65 Coupe. The updates are restricted to two new steering wheel options: an AMG carbon fiber/Dinamica performance steering wheel, and an AMG wood/leather design. Otherwise, the AMG S65 Coupe retains a truly elaborate specification that will leave you wanting for very little.
The S65 Coupe's design remains the same for 2019, and to be honest, we can understand why. This is one of those universally appealing cars - it's got great proportions, but it doesn't look anything less than taut and elegant. The AMG touches are also more subtle here than on other models, the S65 maintaining the restraint that makes the entire S-Class line-up so appealing. 20-inch AMG forged alloy wheels are standard, as are LED daytime running lamps, and headlamps with Swarovski crystal accents. A fixed panorama roof is standard and sizable quad exhaust outlets are fitted at the back.
The AMG S65 is shorter and lower than the S-Class sedan, but nearly as wide. It's still a colossal coupe with lots of presence. Height is 56.3 inches, the length is 198.9 inches, and the S65 is 83 inches wide including the side mirrors. The wheelbase stretches to 115.9 inches. Curb weight is 4,839 pounds, making the S65 Coupe almost 150 lbs heavier than the S63 Coupe. The S65 Coupe is over seven inches longer than the new BMW 8 Series.
The S65 Coupe achieves its incredible performance without the aid of Mercedes' 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system since the S65's engine is simply too powerful for the AWD's components to handle. There's something innately appealing and old-school about a 6.0-liter V12 bi-turbo sending all 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels, though, which is exactly the case here. An AMG SpeedShift seven-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles is standard.
Floor it and the S65 will hit 60 mph in around four seconds, about six-tenths of a second off the pace of the less powerful - but AWD-equipped - S63 Coupe. It's still a seriously impressive performance from a large, heavy luxo-barge. Once on the move, the S65 displays unreal passing power and will blast past slower traffic without breaking a sweat. Overall, it's hard to fault the S65's acceleration and power, especially as it's delivered with so much refinement and poise. With a V12-engined S-Class sedan nearing extinction (a Final Edition was announced in the second quarter of 2019), we should appreciate this powerplant for as long as we still have it.
Mercedes' Magic Body Control boasts a curve tilting function that significantly reduces body roll through corners, allowing you to carry more speed through the twisties than anticipated for such a big coupe. The system also uses a camera to scan the road ahead for impending bumps and prepares the adaptive suspension for them. Pushed hard, the S65's limits are lower than in the more sporting S63 Coupe. The steering offers little feedback, but that's par for the course in a car such as this. On smooth roads in Comfort mode, the S65 wafts along peacefully, with vault-like refinement adding to the sensation of being entirely cut off from the outside world. In the sportier suspension modes, and riding on 20-inch wheels, you do feel some sharper bumps filter through to the cabin. This is still a magnificent car to drive and be driven in, however, and when driven more modestly - relying on torque rather than outright power - and guiding rather than thrashing it, the S65 is right in its element.
A heavy coupe with a giant V12 lump isn't a recipe for fuel-sipping, and indeed, the S65 prefers to take big gulps of premium gasoline. EPA-rated estimates work out to 13/21/16 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, which should equate to a combined cruising range of around 389 miles from a full 24.3-gallon gas tank. By comparison, an S63 Coupe will be able to travel nearly 100 miles further on the same amount of fuel, which is a pretty large differential.
It only takes one look inside the S-Class' interior - and by extension this S65 Coupe - to understand why Mercedes remains the benchmark at this elite end of the market. Seating four, the coupe's beautiful cabin offers brilliant comfort for the driver and front-seat passenger, with supportive, cushy seats and plentiful leg and headroom. At the back, the S65 Coupe can accommodate two passengers, but the legroom is average and the headroom will be tight for people over six-feet tall. Foot space is also limited at the back. Getting into the back is made easier thanks to large, wide-opening doors and front seats that move forward electrically, but some twisting and turning will still be required.
As large as the S65 Coupe may be, a lot of its size is taken up by a long hood. The much shorter rear-end and means a trunk capacity of only 10.4 cubic feet, so while a large suitcase will fit, you'll need to be strategic about what else you put in there. At least there is a reasonably wide trunk opening and an electronic trunk closer.
Small-item storage is quite generous, with large door pockets, a large center console, and a well-sized fold-down armrest with integrated cup holders at the back.
For once, there's a Mercedes-Benz that doesn't require too much time analyzing the options list. Of course, the S65's price of almost $250,000 has a lot to do with the vast range of standard amenities catering to the driver and passengers' every whim. Both front seats have 12-way power adjustment with a memory system, six massage programs, heating and ventilation. There's also heating for the rear seats, front armrests and steering wheel. Other standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, soft-close doors, remote start via the Mercedes Me mobile app, hands-free access, and a power rear-window sunshade. Unlike lesser S-Class coupes, the S65 also gets a standard surround-view camera system, a head-up display, and the contents of the extensive Driver Assistance Package that comes with a host of driver aids. Despite so much to play with, Mercedes has still found some options to throw your money at. Among them is Magic Sky Control which alters the transparency of the panorama roof at the touch of a button. A refrigerator box for the rear cabin, and an electrically heated windshield are also available.
Displaying all vital information ahead of the driver are dual 12.3-inch displays. The customizable digital instrument cluster is matched by a high-resolution screen in the center of the dashboard. Mercedes' Cockpit Management and Data (COMAND) system isn't as slick as the new MBUX systems in other models, but it's still an intuitive interface that gets better with familiarity, combining a touchpad with a rotary knob and one-touch keys. Standard connectivity and entertainment features encompass Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, an HD radio receiver, dual USB audio ports, SiriusXM radio with a six-month all-access trial, COMAND navigation (with no-charge online navigation map updates for three years), wireless charging, an SD card reader, and enhanced voice control. A 10GB music register makes it possible to copy your own music and store it on the in-dash hard drive. Audiophiles have little to complain about, as the S65 Coupe gets a Burmester high-end 3D surround sound system as standard. The setup comprises 26 speakers, a trunk-mounted subwoofer with its own 400-watt amp, and a pair of rotating, illuminated tweeters. It goes without saying that sound reproduction is something special.
Buyers in this segment expect quality, and the S65 doesn't disappoint with a strong J.D. Power rating of 87 out of 100. Although there were four recalls for the S-Class Coupe range in 2018, none of these related to the S65 variant specifically. In 2019, an impaired active brake assist system and a seat belt tensioning fault were among the recalls for the S-Class range, but again, the S65 Coupe wasn't specifically affected by these.
Mercedes' standard four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty covers the S65, along with a drivetrain warranty for four years or 50,000 miles.
Although the S65 Coupe hasn't been evaluated by the NHTSA or the IIHS for crashworthiness, there's little reason to doubt that this is one of the safest cars on the road. For starters, there's Mercedes' excellent safety reputation, with the likes of the 2019 E-Class being named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS. Plus, there's the S65's barrage of standard safety gear.
We'll start with what you'd expect: ten airbags, brake assist, tire pressure monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, LED lighting, and a rearview camera are all there. After that, it's the brand's endless list of driving aids that will be fighting for your attention - literally. Attention assist monitors up to 70 parameters of driving behavior to alert of drowsiness, with both visual and audible warnings. Active steering assist works with Distronic adaptive cruise control by steering the car to either stay in its lane or to follow the car in front when road markings aren't visible. All of the other usual driver-assist aids are there, among them blind-spot monitoring, active lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive high-beam assist. A surround-view camera system, Pre-Safe, night view assist, crosswind assist, and evasive steering assist are included as well.
The Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe isn't a good car - it's an exceptional one. Despite the S65 being slower, heavier on fuel, and a whopping $72,000 more expensive than the S63, this flagship represents something quite different to the performance-oriented S63 Coupe. The S65 is the zenith of opulence achievable in a sleek, two-door Mercedes-Benz. When you're gliding along at obscene speeds in near-silence, the V12 barely taxed, and being expertly massaged by multi-contour seats in exclusive Nappa leather - all seems right with the world. As a showcase of Mercedes' most advanced technologies, the S65 is also a phenomenal achievement, with its semi-autonomous driving capabilities setting it apart from the rest. And yet, despite all the excess, perhaps this car's greatest achievement is how charming it is, from the majestic interior to the stunning proportions. The technology has in no way been allowed to turn the S65 into something clinical and unwelcoming. Traditional brand rivals like Audi, BMW and Porsche don't quite have an equivalent, with the new BMW 8 Series perhaps coming closest. A better match for the S65 Coupe is the Bentley Continental GT, and one of life's great triumphs would be to find yourself in the enviable position where you needed to choose between the two.
Trim levels don't compute once you're spending this sort of money on a car. If the sole S65 Coupe's MSRP of $241,450 doesn't include every feature your heart desires, you can still indulge in an options list that would take the overall cost to even more stratospheric heights. Note that the base price excludes tax, licensing, registration, gas guzzler tax of $1,700, and a destination charge of $995.
|AMG S65 Coupe||
6.0-liter Twin-Turbo V12 Gas
There's just a single S65 Coupe, so any further choice or customization will come down to the options list and what you're willing to spend. There aren't too many options, however, as the S65 already leaves the factory with nearly every conceivable luxury fitted as standard. An AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package costs $5,300 and adds the exotic material to the front air dam's central splitter, the side mirrors and rear diffuser. Alternatively, the $750 AMG Exterior Night Styling Package adds gloss black trim. Various AMG-style steering wheel upgrades cost up to $900, and a high-performance ceramic composite braking system is $8,950.
As this is the flagship of flagships, we'd spec our S65 Coupe with Magic Sky Control at $2,500 (easily altering the transparency of the panorama glass roof), the stunning Flowing Lines wood interior trim at $1,300, and the AMG wood/Nappa leather performance steering wheel at $600.
The price difference between these two is so significant, that you could buy the S63 Coupe AND the hooligan C63 Coupe for less than the S65. It's difficult to understand the logic of the S65 in that sense, but this car is all about presence and monstrous numbers: 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, to be exact. There's also the novelty of knowing that you're sitting in a V12-powered coupe; in an age of downsizing and emissions regulations, these power plants have a very limited lifespan. As a performance coupe, the S63 is better: it takes only 3.4 seconds to hit 60 mph and, with its standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, puts down its power much more cleanly than the rear-wheel-drive S65. The S63's V8 is also the more characterful motor. While the S63 has a faultless cabin, the S65 scales even loftier heights by employing the very finest leathers and having far more driver aids fitted as standard. If money is no object, there's little reason not to sign on the dotted line and drive away in the S65. But if you want your ultimate luxury coupe to be accompanied by a sliver of rationality, you'll go for the less expensive and superior performance machine that is the S63.
Starting at $133,000, the imminent and all-new BMW M8 (and it's even more powerful M8 Competition sibling) is far less expensive than the S65 Coupe. While each represents the apex of their respective brands' coupe model lines, these are still two vastly different cars. The M8 is more visceral, with its 600 horsepower V8 and all-wheel-drive system blasting it to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds (three seconds for the M8 Competition), significantly faster than the S65. The M8 also handles a lot better, but the S65 does provide a more serene and refined drive. The elegant Mercedes is also at odds with the brash, aggressive M8, so it's likely that one type of buyer will be able to side with one or the other quite quickly. Even though the M8 is newer, the Mercedes has the plusher and more welcoming cabin, and it can actually fit adults into the back - the M8, by comparison, has extremely limited rear legroom. If mountain pass blasts are part of your weekend routine, the M8 and M8 Competition will fit the bill, but if you find such activities distasteful and beneath you, then you'll probably be happier with the more gentlemanly S65.