At the entry level of the lineup, the 2014 S-Class is offered in S550 or S550 4MATIC guise, with the 4MATIC adding all-wheel drive. Both of these models are powered by a 455-horsepower, 4.7L turbocharged V8 engine and mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
High-performance S63 AMG 4MATIC models pack a 5.5L twin-turbo V8 engine, making 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The S65 AMG gets a 6.0L twin-turbo V12 that makes 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. In both cases, they're fitted to a special AMG Speedshift 7-speed automatic transmission. The S65 AMG can accelerate to 60 mph in an official 4.2 seconds and easily reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, while the S63 AMG can do that dash in 3.9 seconds and reach 186 mph.
Both of the AMG S-Class models offer the power and performance levels of an exotic sports car into what's essentially the same package--so you get the same level of interior space and nearly the same comfort.
Magic Body Control is an optional feature in the new S-Class; it actually scans the road surface and changes the suspension's settings to suit the kind of surface and your own desired level of comfort and control. MBC works together with the standard Active Damping System and Airmatic air suspension.
While the S63 AMG gets a special AMG Adaptive Sports Suspension that's tuned to make the most of the all-wheel drive system's capability and this car's more performance-oriented setup. The S65 AMG also adds a sport version of Magic Body Control, plus a speed-sensitive sports steering with multiple settings and a distinct steering-wheel design. Special 20-inch AMG forged-alloy wheels are included in this model, along with a sport exhaust system with twin tailpipes and an available ceramic high-performance composite braking system.
Both the S63 and S65 AMG add a lithium-ion battery that saves more than 44 pounds and isn't as affected by cold temperatures as a normal car battery. And they both include an Eco Start/Stop feature that allows the engine (in some conditions) to stop automatically at stoplights and then restart when the driver lifts off the brake pedal.
All S-Class models include two high-resolution color screens, with a diagonal measurement of 12.3 inches. On the right are infotainment and comfort functions, while instrument-cluster and driver-specific controls are on the left. Expanded voice entry is now allowed for phone and audio systems, and there's a feature that will read text messages aloud. It also includes a customizable head-up display, and the COMAND infotainment display has now been supplemented with a touch pad and three touch-sensitive keys--one to go back, one for favorites, and one to quickly get to audio.
A new Burmester Surround Sound system--with optional 3D surround--offers a so-called Frontbass system uses woofers placed in the firewall, eliminating the need to take up door space.
The S-Class continues to have some of the best seats in any vehicle. The rear seat features a limousine-like ambiance with the optional Executive Rear Seat package, which brings folding tables and upgraded back-seat appointments--including a backrest angle that's adjustable up to 43.5 degrees. A Plus version of that package even brings an aircraft-style seat with Peltier technology that will keep your drink cool or warm. There's a hot-stone-inspired energizing massage function, with six massage programs, including two that include warming, and the active seat ventilation system now uses reverse fans to help reduce drafts. Other noteworthy options for interior comfort include the Air Balance Package, which brings ionized air purification and has an active air-perfuming feature.
In addition to regular S-Class equipment, the S65 AMG gets a Napa leather roof liner, leather-lined dash and door panels, extra wood trim, and AMG door sill panels with white illumination. The gauge cluster is AMG-specific, with additional round-dial gauges for engine and transmission oil temp.
Personalization options on the AMG models include a carbon fiber package, a wood and Napa leather-wrapped steering wheel, the ceramic-brake upgrade, red brake calipers and special carbon fiber and black piano lacquer trim.
Safety takes center stage in the new S-Class, once again. As part of a $2,800 Driver Assistance Package, you can add the Distronic Plus radar-based cruise control, Pre-Safe autonomous braking; the Pre-Safe Plus rear-facing radar warning system; BAS Plus with Cross Traffic Assist (using stereoscopic cameras to help prevent an accident); Active Lane Keeping Assist; and Active Blind Spot Protection. There's also Night View Assist Plus, a feature that continues to be refined, and uses infra-red and camera information to detect animals and people along the road ahead.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is all-new for 2014--with a completely new look inside and out--although it's only slightly longer and wider than the previous generation. This new sixth generation of the S-Class introduces a number of new technologies, such as improved active-safety systems, and even a Magic Body Control feature that will 'read' the road ahead and smooth out the ride accordingly.