The S-Class’s engine line-up starts with a 2.9-litre straight-six diesel with 282bhp in the S350d. That’s enough to breeze it from 0-62mph in 6.0sec, and it feels every bit as quick in reality. But it's how effortlessly it builds speed, rather than its ultimate pace, that is perhaps its greatest asset.
The first of the petrols is a straight six again, but this time with a 3.0-litre capacity. It’s no ordinary petrol engine, though, using a cutting-edge 48-volt electrical system to supply an electric compressor – basically a turbocharger powered by an electric motor – as well as an electric motor attached to the back of the engine, giving it near-instant response along with better efficiency. And there’s a regular turbocharger, too, boosting mid-range power. All of this makes for swift progress from the moment you plant your foot down, so the S500 will hit the magic 62mph from rest in just 4.8sec.
Fancy more than that? Then there’s also a choice of 604bhp from the twin-turbocharged V8 in the AMG S63, or a scarcely believable 621bhp in the AMG S65. Needless to say, both provide sports car levels of acceleration.
Whatever engine you choose, you will get a nine-speed automatic gearbox that responds well and changes gear smartly.