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This argument comes up on blogs and in magazines: when is plenty of horsepower to much horsepower? Except, this time, The Good Car Guy comes at Mercedes-owned AMG from another angle. When is 11 miles per gallon in a full-size sedan way too 1970s?

Seriously, while I completely recognize that Mercedes-Benz invests little cash to turn your regular S550 (0-60mph in 5.4 seconds, $89,350) into an S63 AMG (0-60mph in 4.6 seconds, $131,350) or S65 AMG (0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, $198,950) while making obscene amounts of cash on the hundreds they sell – thus using the earnings from antisocial vehicles to fun R&D on the social kinds – the AMG versions of the S-Class really aren’t all that impressive. True, the S-Class is one of The Good Car Guy’s class favourites, along with the Audi A8. Indeed, horsepower is readily accepted as currency at GoodCarBadCar Towers. However, advance the movement, Mercedes-Benz.
Let’s get down to business. Horsepower is easy. There is no substitute for cubic inches. AMG uses a 6.2L naturally-aspirated V8 engine to make 525 horsepower. Whoop-dee-ding. I see the fun in enjoying the car; but manufacturing 525 horsepower? Easy. Oh, then there’s the 612 horsepower created by the twin-turbocharged 6.0L V12. That’s barely more than 100/bhp per litre with two turbochargers. Ask Honda to build you a a V12 for this car and you’d likely meet up with Takeo Fukui, a 5.0L naturally-aspirated V12, and 650 ponies.
Back to the fuel economy for a minute. Mercedes-Benz might squeeze a 12mpg city rating out of the EPA for 2010 on these AMG S-Class sedans, and nobody will notice. It’s almost sickening to say, but we’re nearing the second decade of this millennium. Any 4-door car from one of the world’s most famous automotive brands – from its technological outpost, no less – that can’t achieve 15 miles per gallon in the city…. is disappointing.
Don’t bother arguing on behalf of the S63 AMG’s greatness. The car is loved here, too. Don’t bother mentioning the names of potential owners and the size of their bank balances. That’s not the issue. The issue, oh Good Car Nation, is the standing of Mercedes-Benz in the world. These days, excess is out-classed by ingenuity (Tesla Model S, anyone?) and restrained excellence (BMW 335d, anyone else?).
Not many weeks past, some young designers put together a Mercedes-Benz concept that couldn’t go faster than 25km/h or travel further than 350 kilometres. The F-Cell Roadster is powered by hydrogen and produces 1 horsepower. Somewhere in between the futuristic F-Cell concept and the from-another-era 2010 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and S65 AMG rests today’s Mercedes-Benz: not a slow car, not a car that’s diminished by fuel-saving tech, but a vehicle that takes the best of the current S-Class AMGs and pairs it with responsibility, restraint, and a reach-for-the-stars attitude once held by Gottlieb Daimler.