The flagship S-Class was redesigned for 2007, with a more formal exterior design and an intriguing interior design; it also picked up a longer wheelbase for a roomier cabin. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup adds one more model; the V-8-powered S550 with 382 horsepower, the 510-hp V-12 S600, and the 604-hp V-12 S65 AMG models are joined by a new V-8 AMG model, the 518-hp S63 AMG.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class V-12 models come with a five-speed automatic transmission, while V-8 models get a seven-speed automatic; both have Touch Shift manual control. The S550 is also offered in an all-wheel-drive model.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz S63 and S65 AMG models bring a host of additional performance and appearance upgrades, including the Active Body Control suspension, a SpeedShift transmission system, high-performance tires, a sport exhaust, aerodynamic lower bodywork, Drive-Dynamic ventilated multicontour seats with exclusive leather upholstery, and special gauges.
The standard S550's powertrain provides plenty of power to move the 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class with authority, but the S600's V-12 kicks in an extra measure of omnipresent torque and is especially quiet and refined. The added weight of the engine in the S600 is felt, though it doesn't handle with quite as much agility. The S550 can get to 60 mph in less than 5.5 seconds, but the S600 can make it in a mere 4.5 seconds.
The S-Class's interior is very spacious and well designed. The shift control is located along the steering column, which frees up the center console area compared to other vehicles, and the instrument panel has a simple but very elegant design, with a broad, sweeping horizontal theme and impressive-looking wood veneers. The latest version of Mercedes-Benz's COMAND screen-based interface replaces the clutter of smaller controls in the 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it's not always as intuitive as it could be.