The British historian and moralist, Lord Acton, once famously said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, so one wonders what he’d make of Mercedes twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder S65 AMG, now with 621bhp (up from 603bhp).

This is the third-generation model based on the new S-Class, which will go on sale from April 2014, priced from around £160,000. The S65 has been with us since 2003, with the second generation (V 221) being produced between 2006 and 2013.

It continues to be the world’s most powerful series-production saloon – it’s also conspicuously self-indulgent in a world where cars (although not super-quick limousines) achieve more than 50mpg and emit less than 100 g/km of CO2.

If you must ask, the S65 AMG achieves 23.7 mpg and 279 g/km, although you’d have to be driving like a saint to regularly achieve this… and what would be the fun in that? Mercedes say it’s “the world’s most fuel-efficient V12 high-performance saloon”, which is a bit like saying Ivan the Terrible was a nicer bloke than Genghis Khan.

If you’d like to own an S-Class, while maintaining good social conscience, there’s always the S 350 Blue TEC which delivers 0 to 62mph performance in 6.8 seconds, will reach 155mph and yet still manages 51.4mpg and 146 g/km of CO2.


The S65 AMG is the very antithesis of the Blue TEC Mercedes, it’s also a very different kind of car to drive.

For a start there’s 1000Nm (737lb-ft) at the driver’s disposal, which makes it a wonderful tool on our increasingly crowded roads – acceleration is delivered in a singular seamless rush, making it a wonderfully relaxing vehicle to drive.

Of course there’s also the S63 AMG, powered by a 5.5-litre V8 and producing 577bhp and 900Nm of torque. It’s a little slower to 62mph (4.4 seconds versus 4.3 seconds) and a little more frugal (28.0 mpg and 237 g/km), but Mercedes are confident the S65 is worth the additional £40,000 over its AMG sibling.

As in the SL65 AMG, the engine is mated to AMG’s Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox, replacing the five-speed fitted in the previous S65 AMG. The new box features three driving modes including Sport (S) and Manual (M) and Controlled Efficiency (C), while an ECO start/stop function is activated in transmission mode “C”.

Like the S63 AMG, the S65 AMG features a lithium-ion battery which saves 20kg over a conventional battery, it still tips the scales at over 2.1 tonnes, but as a famous supermarket slogan says ‘every little helps’.

As you’d expect of the range-topping version of Mercedes’ most expensive model, it’s packed to the gunwales with every conceivable technology, but there are a few which Mercedes seem most proud of; the AMG sports suspension based on magic body control comes as standard with ‘road surface scan’, the world’s first suspension with eyes – this uses twin cameras to scan the road surface and adjust the suspension in advance while ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ modes are selected.

Mercedes also use a new touchpad system to operate the radio, telephone and navigation system, which adopts the same gesture-based controls as a smartphone or tablet while providing access to all the car’s infotainment functions. The control surface is integrated into the hand-rest of the central control unit, allowing for safe and comfortable use with an intuitive user interface.

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As befits a top AMG model, the S65 AMG features several unique styling features including 20-inch forged light-alloy wheels and huge 420 millimetre high-performance ceramic brakes topped off with optional red brake calipers. Body styling includes a twin louvres V12 radiator grille, front apron with three large cooling air intakes and quad AMG sports exhaust with chrome-plated tailpipes.

To further distinguish itself from the S63, AMG’s range-topper wears ‘V12 BITURBO’ lettering on the wings and a ‘S 65 AMG’ model badge on the boot lid – both in a new typography.

The S65 AMG will be revealed simultaneously at the Tokyo and Los Angeles motor shows next week, before going on sale in April 2014.