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2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Overview

With its shapely styling, aggressive performance, and top-notch interior features, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class continues to set the pace for high-end luxury sedans. Other than the addition of satellite radio as a standard feature for '08, the S-Class remains unchanged from the previous year. Still, Mercedes' flagship S-Class sedans have plenty to offer, including a choice of powerful V8 or V12 engines, available 4Matic all-wheel drive, the latest technologies, cutting-edge safety features, and richly appointed cabins with plenty of leather and wood trim.

The 2008 S-Class lineup consists of S550, S600, S63 AMG, and S65 AMG trims. All S-Class sedans seat five passengers and feature rear-wheel drive, except for trims equipped with the optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The S-Class sedans deliver a superior ride and quick, responsive handling, thanks to their specially designed suspensions. The S550 comes equipped with an Airmatic Semi-Active Air Suspension system with Adaptive Damping, which automatically adjusts the air springs to ensure optimal ride and handling, and lowers ride height at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The S600, S63 AMG, and S65 AMG replace the Airmatic system with an Active Body Control system, which adjusts the suspension at each wheel to reduce vibration, dive, and squat, and uses a series of sensors and high-pressure hydraulics to minimize body roll during cornering.

When it comes to power and performance, the '09 S-Class sedans excel. A 5.5-liter V8 engine, generating 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, powers the S550, which jumps out from 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds. The engine links to a seven-speed automatic transmission with the Touch Shift manual shift feature and posts fuel economy numbers of 14/22 mpg. Moving up a notch, the S600 sedan pumps out the power with its 510-hp, 5.5-liter V12 bi-turbo engine. Generating an impressive 612 lb-ft of torque, the V12 drives the sedan from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. It links to a five-speed transmission, and posts fuel economy numbers of 11/17, according to EPA estimates.

The AMG trims feature equally impressive powerplants. A 512-hp, 6.3-liter V8 engine, delivering 512 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, powers the S63. The engine links to an AMG Speedshift Plus seven-speed automatic transmission with F1-inspired shift paddles, and drives the sedan from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy numbers at 11/17. At the top of the lineup, the S65 AMG retains its 604-hp, bi-turbo 6.0-liter V12, making it one of the most powerful sedans available today. The V12 produces a whopping 738 lb-ft of torque, which propels the S65 AMG from 0 to 60 in just over 4 seconds. Like the V12-powered S600, the S65 comes equipped with a specially designed five-speed automatic transmission equipped with paddle shifters for manual shifting. The S65 posts fuel economy numbers of 11/17.

Each S-Class trim sports an impressive list of standard features. The S550 comes equipped with 14-way power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery and trim, three-level heated front seats, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and hand-polished Burl Walnut wood trim. It also includes a 14-speaker, 600-watt Harman Kardon digital surround-sound audio system and a navigation system with a 20-gigabyte in-dash hard drive, among many other features. The S600 sedan adds multicolor front leather seats with a four-stage massage function, heated rear seats, a panorama sunroof, and power rear slide window shades. The S63 AMG and S65 AMG include such unique features as AMG sport seats with Passion leather and contoured side-bolster seats, an ergonomic sports steering wheel, an AMG sport-oriented instrument cluster, and AMG brushed stainless-steel sports pedals with black rubber pads for grip.

The S-Class sedans are equipped with a wide range of security, stability, and safety features, including power-adjustable front head restraints and the Pre-Safe system, which automatically closes the windows, adjusts seat belts, and positions the front passenger seat for optimal airbag deployment if it detects a potential emergency situation. Eight airbags, including front and rear side-impact airbags and full-length window curtain airbags, come standard. Other standard safety features include antilock brakes, all-speed traction control, an electronic stability system, and brake assist. Optional safety equipment includes a wide-angle rear backup camera and the Parktronic system, which uses ultrasonic sensors to aid drivers when parallel parking.


Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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