Given the success of its flagship sedan, it’s no surprise that Mercedes-Benz has changed very little in its 2008 S-Class line. Standard satellite is the only new feature for the illustrious S-Class, which continues to attract luxury-oriented buyers with its elegant design, powerful engines, and state-of-the-art engineering.
The S-Class is offered in four increasingly-sporty trims, each with a unique engine. The base S550 comes with a 5.5-liter V-8, the S63 AMG is equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8, the S600 with a twin-turbo, 5.5-liter V-12, and the S65 AMG with a six-liter V-12 making an impressive 604 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard; however, the S550 is also available with all-wheel drive. Inside the cabin, premium leather, adaptive seats, and a long list of standard technology features make for a comfortable ride. While the S-Class can’t match the agile driving dynamics of top-of-the-line sport sedans, its air suspension and sharp handling make it one of the best performers in the luxury sedan segment.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 5.5-liter V-8, 6.2-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-12, 6.0-liter V-12
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, seven-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz S550, Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S600, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG
With the exception of standard satellite radio, nothing is new about the 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz S550 comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, a chrome grille, bi-xenon headlights, foglights, a remote-operated power sunroof, a power rear sunshade, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rear defogger, cargo tie-downs, and an air spring suspension. An AWD system and Mercedes’ Active Body Control (ABC) active suspension are optional. Upgrading to the S63 AMG adds the larger V-8, 20-inch wheels, performance tires, bigger brakes, the ABC suspension, and distinctive exterior details.
Both V-8 trims are available with optional keyless entry and ignition and an infrared night-vision assistance feature. An AMG package outfits the S550 with the S63 AMG’s wheels and trim, while a performance package provides the S63 with a limited-slip rear differential and increases the top-speed governor from its normal 155 mph to 186 mph. The S600 and S65 AMG come with all the features of the V-8 trims, plus its respective V-12 engines. The S600 also adds a fixed-glass rear sunroof.
Trimmed in premium leather and high-quality wood, the cabin of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is elegant and refined. Seats are well-bolstered and controls and equipment are laid out intuitively, though some have complained that the low-set turn signal stalk can be difficult to reach.
Standard interior features on the base S550 include leather upholstery, a leather tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with transmission and audio controls, an alloy-trimmed shift knob, 14-way adjustable front seats with lumbar support and multiple heat settings, memory settings for three drivers, a reverse-tilt passenger mirror, power-adjustable heated mirrors, power locks, one-touch power windows, retained accessory power, a universal remote transmitter, 12-volt power outlets, interior air filtration, dual-zone climate control, extended cabin heating, a trip computer, a compass, and an external temperature display. Technology features include a hard-drive-based navigation system, a COMAND multimedia interface, Bluetooth, a voice-activated phone, Mercedes’ TeleAid emergency communications system, satellite radio, and a 14-speaker 600-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system with a CD player and MP3 playback.
The S63 AMG adds sport seats and aluminum trim. Both V-8 models are eligible for available ventilated front seats with massage settings or a Rear Seat Package, which adds four-zone automatic climate control and heated and cooled rear seats. All of the above features come standard on the S600 and S65 AMG.
Performance & Handling
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz S550 comes fitted with a 5.5-liter V-8 producing 382 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, while the S63 AMG features a 6.2-liter V-8 making 518 horses and 465 lb-ft. Both V-8s are matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission, but the AMG version has been tweaked for faster gear changes. Upgrading to the S600 adds a 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V-12 churning out 510 hp and 612 lb-ft. The top-of-the-line S65 AMG is powered by a six-liter V-12 producing an eye-popping 604 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Each V-12 is paired to a five-speed automatic gearbox.
At 4300 pounds, even the lightest of S-Class models is still undeniably hefty. However, the S-Class’ high-tech air suspension manages to minimize body roll and bumps while its sharp steering lends a sporty feel.
As with most everything else about the 2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, safety features are state-of-the-art. Standard safety equipment on all S-Class models includes front and rear head airbags, dual front and rear side-mounted airbags, front whiplash-reducing head restraints, cornering lights, dusk-sensing self-leveling headlights, night-vision assistance technology, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, emergency braking assist, brake drying, tire pressure monitoring, and pre- and post-collision safety systems.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz S550: 14/21 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S600, S63 AMG, S65 AMG: 11/17 mpg city/highway
- Sumptuous styling
- Innovative technologies
- Impressive acceleration
- Available AWD
You Won't Like
- Pricey options
- Awkwardly-placed turn signals
High-tech luxury sedan blends power and prestige.
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