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S55 Review.

 
Old 05-24-2012, 03:53 PM
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S55 Review.

I joined this forum back in 05 when considering a 500SL and somehow managed to never own a Mercedes since. I had driven plenty, but first impressions do not do these cars justice. while always nice to drive, there was a latent "fear" that this car was really not designed for pure enthusiast. More of a cushy cousin to the BMW which wasted so much time on frilly options rather then driving experience...

HOLY $#%^ WAS I WRONG!

I found myself and my naive assumptions standing in front of an S55 AMG that has been babied since birth. It was a great deal and a beautiful car so I grabbed it. What self respecting car nut could never own a Mercedes? I owned everything else and found myself continually floating back to Beemer - but why not give Mercedes their shot to win my heart.

After a few months of ownership:

I am going to start with my one and only complaint on this car (which is minor, but one of the reasons Mercedes never won me over in short drives): The steering. Way to soft & luxury at low speeds, and definitely not enough feedback at higher speeds... You really have to trust this car, as you won't know how safe you are until your mid turn at ungodly speeds.

But this thing delivers EVERY TIME! This 4000+ lbs boat corners like a small nimble sports car. It had to earn my trust slowly over time (and I am still searching for its limits) due to the lack of feedback produced, but this is a true performance machine.

NEVER had I thought it possible to combine such luxury and performance into one vehicle. A minor steering adjustment to better suit my tastes, and I could go so far as to say this car might be perfect. PERFECT.

If you are someone like me who really enjoys driving then this is the car for you. You literally have to do nothing. Windows just do not fog, temperature is steady and consistent throughout the vehicle ALWAYS, seats disappear from under you, and you can open every orifice on this car while doing... (well let's just say going REALLY fast) and have a comfortable conversation while driving. "Well built" is not enough to describe this car.

My minor complaint about the steering is a benefit also. This car cruises like the finest luxury cars I have ever experienced, while in a split second calling Mr. Hyde when needed. Don't be afraid to take a leisurely drive through the country and let your guard down... If a poor unsuspecting sports car should feel tempted to threaten your unassuming stature, you can quickly show him the prominent rear badge "AMG".

If you are searching for a luxury car, Mercedes is a no brainier. But as a sports car enthusiast this was hard for me. Why not get a 911, its faster... A Ferarri, its flashier and sounds better... Or even save the money on maintenance and get a mid level sports sedan like an M5, S5, etc... They are comfortable, well built, quick enough - especially with the large aftermarket, and to some extent practical (I have two kids, so my Porsche is a fading memory). And the final clincher, no stick. I am old school and love my clutch.

Hey, I still think in the "practical" performance world the BMW M series is king. Great drive, inexpensive to maintain (compared to the other cars I listed) and just a great all around car/value.

Purists know what I am talking about. Or I should say "Mercedes ignorant purists". Our thoughts would be along the lines of: Why spend so much money on BS, when you could buy go-fast goodies instead? I just spend over $800 to fix some flickering in the headlight... This is NOT a cheap car to own. It is a super car masked in a much more unassuming body then its competitors - a wolf wrapped in cashmere clothing.

Why the rant? Because I am not sure I could own an M series again. I could not give up the subtle luxuries this car has bestowed on my tastes. I feel like a teenager with their first car discovering freedom all over again. Looking back at my ten speed bike wondering how I did it...

What the hell have I been driving all these years!?

I just wrote this because a review on this forum made a huge impact on my decision to purchase this car. I hope mine does the same for someone else.

I am already considering another Mercedes purchase (S65), with the mentality of "if this ten year old car is this amazing compared to late model cars I have owned - whats the modern one going to be like!?". I am (as far as car guys go) practical. Hey, as much as we hate to admit it, a car is a waste of fkn money. The biggest depreciating asset you can buy. But true enjoyment and happiness is rare luxury worth spending on. This car has combined that into the long list of features it provides and therefore has earned my investment.

In summary: If you have the opportunity to own an AMG, do it. Don't hesitate, don't consider, and for gods sake do not look at how much maintenance will cost you! It won't seem so expensive when you are driving that car to the shop. It will be an investment into discovering the kid in you all over again.

Now if we could just fit a baby seat in the McLaren...
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:57 AM
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Nice review...I agree totally, and dont even mind the steering and auto trans, I ve never had a BMW, but have worked on a few...they seem like OK cars, but they're not a Mercedes, to me.
Mike
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:43 PM
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MB; 55KCL AMG, SL550 SLS AMG G500 Cabrio 280SL ML350 CLS550 ML500 E55 AMG CL500 S600 SLK32 AMG
Congrats on the purchase. Entertaining review you provided there, I enjoyed reading it. These AMG's (especially the big V8 ones) are rockets. They just hook on the road and when you slam the pedal, they take off. It's very raw and sophisticated all at the same time. I'm not a BMW guy and the young guys that drive them on average make me to not want to be a part of the owners club. AMG Mercs are better, they just are.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:53 PM
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Yes, there definitely is a stigma in the BMW owners circles lol. I like the "raw and sophisticated" part - turn off the ECS? (traction control thing) - and you can have fun with them.

I don't like BMW interiors, or even some of the exterior styling... What I always loved is that ride from the lowest 3 series to the highest 7 series is consistently BMW. Even the low end 3's and mid level 5's (which are not fast), give a nice ride & drive. They feel great always. I do miss that feeling every piece of road, but this S55 has simply spoiled me with everything else it offers.

I had Audi's which I hated. To many small things...It's like someone had a great idea for a car, then never drove it. AND they cost a fortune to maintain. Someone had told them they were a real car, and this should be corrected.

The only other car I really like is my Land Rover (I have a 99 Discovery II - The last year BMW made them and arguably the finest off road vehicle to EVER come to America). That is an amazing truck, but unfortunately I am not a truck guy. I use it for work now. But that is reminiscent of my feelings for my S55. EXCEPTIONALLY well thought out and well mannered. Pleasure to own, extremely expensive (similar to the Merc) to maintain, but worth it in my opinion.

I don't know if I can stomach the price tag on the S65... But if I can, that will definitely be my next purchase. Kids really need college anymore?

Last edited by Dkmafia; 05-25-2012 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:30 PM
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2017 991.2 Turbo PDK 2017 C63S Coupe Ceramic Brakes 2015 CLS63S AMG Full House
The S55K is one of my most loved AMG's

Congrats with a brilliant choice.
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Old 05-26-2012, 08:46 PM
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Yes, welcome to the family! I bought mine because of the size. I too have two kids and the E55 is too small. I looked at everything in this size and the S55 won. Of course if I had enough for the S65 than that would be in the driveway. I looked at Audi and BMW and neither have anything that compares to the AMG of Mercedes. I would love all wheel drive of an Audi but the A8 is boring and an S8 is too much. Same for BMW...nothing. B7s are too much. I love my S55.
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:39 PM
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'06 MB S55 AMG; '04 Audi Allroad 4.2; '05 BMW M3 Conv.; '92 MB 500E
Yeah, ditto to all of this. I've got all three, Audi, BMW and Merc, and all are what the brands do best -- luxo wagon for Audi (nobody does it better), convertible M3 for BMW (only Porsche does it better), continent crushing Mercs. And I've also driven the B7s, the M5s, the D2 (-2003) and D3 (-2009) S8s -- all very nice cars. Don't get me wrong: I love the Allroad and the M3. But...

For me, it's gotta be the Merc Sonderklasse. I think the stat is something like 7 out of 10 S-Class owners buy another S-Class. An Audi or BMW guy will eventually buy a S-Class. S-Class owners generally don't go the other way.

Well done on a fantastic choice of vehicle. It offers no compromises -- power (and more power), safety (Pre-Safe?!?!), luxury, reliability, durability, room (and more room). It's a class all its own -- easily my best car, followed closely by the 20 year old MB-Porsche collabo legend, the original "wolf in sheep's clothing", the '92 500E.

I can see myself buying a few more "racing" S-Classes (300 SEL 6.3, 450 SEL 6.9, S65 AMG, etc.). I don't see any more BMW's in my future (kinda low-brow in a very expensive sort of way). I might still double back to that S8 V10 though, as an Allroad replacement (I don't much need the soccer wagon anymore -- kids are growing up). But Audi just makes too many stupid execution errors. Great ideas, but not executed quite well enough in my view.

Enjoy your car. It's THE one to have.

;-D

maw
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:00 AM
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S55K AMG
Originally Posted by Dkmafia View Post
A Ferarri, its flashier and sounds better...
Steady there now fella . . . . flashier, yes . . . . sounds better, Hell NO.

To me a Ferrari sounds like a tin can with a turbo attached to it, sounds very . . . . how can i put this politely . . . sounds very girly to me.

An AMG on the other hand is perhaps one of the finest sounds i have ever heard from a car, sounds like a true muscle car, a mans car. I call it the "AMG Dawn Chorus". The only other standard car sound im a fan of is the Audi RS4/RS6 sound. The BMW M range sounds like a skeleton having a w**k in a metal bin . . . . very tinny.

Id agree with pretty much everything else you've said though. I was on several forums debating wether to buy a Merc S-class, an Audi A8, a Jaguar XJR or a BMW 7 series. I wish you had written this sooner, it might have stopped me short of going nearly mad.

The specification i was after was simply . . . "a big luxo barge with plenty of roar and power". It was only a couple of months before that i even came to know the existence of a 55k engine in an S-class, the S55 k. I went from one forum to another for over a year, and id never owned either of the 4 marques before, not even the smaller cars.

Nearly a year later and i went to a Jaguar owners club meeting where i was treated to a nice drive in an XJR and saw some of their refinements and power features. I must say i was taken aback and decided to buy a Long wheel base Jaguar XJR. I spent months on end looking for one while keeping an eye out for a S55 aswell. Then, i finally saw a pristine example of an XJR that i knew i just had to have. Me and a friend went to have a look, on the way we had a small race with a CLS55 and despite seeing the XJR i was bitten by the AMG bug and i spent several months looking for an S55 instead. Then came winter and i decided that i was going to buy in 6 months at the start of Spring/Summer time when the weather gets better. A mere 2 weeks later i saw a Black S55k come up in the trader and 6 months ahead of schedule i went and bought my first ever Merc.

Was it the dumbest thing i ever did? After all, id read so much about their suspension troubles, how expensive they are to replace and the whole host of other niggly little problems they can throw up from time to time. Was servicing and maintenance going to be easy and cheap, not according to what id been reading it wasnt!!!! Would this be an every day car, i think not!!! The plan was to solely use this as a weekend car, it now turned to using it as a long distance car that would otherwise not get driven, mileage was limited to 5,000 miles per year.

Now iv had the car for nearly 9 months now and touch wood nothing has gone wrong with it, it even flew straight through the MOT. I try and not to drive it everyday and yet somehow it draws me in for another leisurely little drive, and now i drive it everyday . . . . . iv never looked so forward to long distance trips and despite EVERYTHING i had read the fuel consumption is NOT that bad, considering its the next best thing to having your own private jet.

Speed is incredible and the sound is amazing, but because its still an S-class its somewhat a little quiter than all the other AMG's. Im planning on taking out the secondary cats and the centre box to make things a little more beefier, but dont want to over do it at the same time, so a little more research on that front yet. My only criticism would be of the handling, it is a big barge and try as you might it just doesnt handle like a sports car. I know most will say thats because its not a sports car, but with that much power i think the handling should have been better. However, i do understand that there can only be a certain degree of compromise in having good handling and retaining a luxury ride, you just cant have both.

In conclusion, a lot of people tried to sway me towards an M5 or an RS6, and in all honesty i did have my doubts once the RS6 came into the equation. But the original spec still stood "a big luxo barge with plenty of roar and power", and there was only one car that ticked all the boxes.

Im the kind of person who used to change his car every year, despite doing modifications, because i used to get bored of the car. This on the other hand . . . . is likely to be a long term companion.

Last edited by w4sim; 06-26-2012 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:16 AM
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DK - Nice write up and your experience mirrors my own, completely.

I have never owned anything except Mercedes-Benz and mostly W140s, at that. I never thought I'd ever like the newer cars because they scare the Jesus out of me. That said, my 2001 CL600 was utterly brilliant. So that car turned into my S55 and once again, I was completely dumbfounded that I would ever actually like a W220 but a 5 minute jaunt is all it took.

I wonder if your car is setup a bit differently than mine is. My car rides on 245/45 rubber up front, 275/40 in the back. The car tramlines like a *******, but my car's steering is anything but "soft and luxury." Quite the contrary, the steering is the heaviest I have ever driven: 996, 997, 993, S4, S8 - even versus other ABC-equipped cars like my CL and others' SL. Additionally, my car's suspension is quite stiff (a little too much so?). Whereas my CL felt a little rubbery over bumps, this car pounds over them. The dealer is an idiot (they all are around here) but he did say that the suspension is different in the AMG cars vs standard ones. I am starting to think he might be correct.

But, like you said, the power and sound underhood is intoxicating and the handling is just fabulous. This car, with ABC and ESP, makes you want to do things that no one in their right mind would and should do with a 4200 lb car. But Jeez, I just can't help it!!
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:00 PM
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Nice review

The only thing I'll be "upgrading" to is the new V8TT CL. AMG are serious cars, not just people movers.

Originally Posted by Star500E View Post

But, like you said, the power and sound underhood is intoxicating and the handling is just fabulous. This car, with ABC and ESP, makes you want to do things that no one in their right mind would and should do with a 4200 lb car. But Jeez, I just can't help it!!
And then some end up in jail for a night or two

Be careful out there! Respect the road and rules. Just saying
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Old 07-13-2017, 01:08 AM
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I'm looking at S55's after considering an E55 awhile ago. I know this thread is a little old but the info is still true and relevant to people late in the game like me. Thanks for posting!
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Old 07-29-2018, 10:09 AM
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'06 MB S55 AMG; '04 Audi Allroad 4.2; '05 BMW M3 Conv.; '92 MB 500E
For all you guys complaining about handling and steering in this 4300 lb car, the Sport button is your friend, along with proper tires, ball joints, etc. Swap out the ABC fluid (Pentosin), make sure it’s filled to spec, and press that Sport button on the dash. The world will change, but subtlely. Somehow, the steering ratio seems to change as well. I’m not sure how they do this, but I think it’s as simple as higher fluid pressure through the tandem pump, which is why fresh fluid filled to spec is so important.

Cheers,

maw

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Old 07-29-2018, 11:10 AM
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'08 S-65
To all of us who love that S-55.

Drive a 2012 and newer S-63 or 2008 and newer S-65. Turbocharged power lacks the immediacy of the Supercharged Bent eight but goes like heck!

Same things to cheer about done better. Interior is another step nicer. Less babysitting. Things like keyless go door handles that always work. ABC hoses that are not failing all the time. MB learned a lot with the 220 Chassis. They just get better.

The way my 5200lb S-65 shrinks on a fast twisty road just has to be experienced.

Can't wait for the 222 S-65 to get into my comfort zone for purchase price.
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Old 07-29-2018, 03:51 PM
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No thanks, I’ll pass on the W221. “The immediacy of the supercharged ... eight” is the whole point here. In a 4300 lb car, the thing imitates an M3 much better than an M3 can imitate it. Once I give up that immediacy, I may as well drive a Bentley. Turbo charging (and lag) are the minions that make this car shine. I’ll admit that maybe the ABC got better, but I wouldn’t know. I think a lot of those “improvements” made the ‘06 W220 AMGs. I think the interior is on par, and I’ll pass on Keyless Go as a matter of course. I almost traded my S55 (+$30k) for a gently used W221 S65. And I’ve driven S63s and such (SL55, SL63, SL65, W221/W216 65), Porsche twin turbo 911s and Panameras, Audi S8s, Alpina B7s, basically anything to convince me I needed something more than my S55. Ten minutes behind the wheel and the extra weight plus the extra lag (or in the M156 S63, just general lack) and I’m like, “Nah, I’m str8 on all this.” You give up more than you get, particularly in the “immediacy” department, which is ultimately the only department that matters.

maw

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Old 07-29-2018, 03:59 PM
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'08 S-65
Maw... I wish that MB would supercharge the bent-12.

That would be a laugh riot.

FWIW in a recent trip my buddy is driving his Brabus K-8.... I'm following in the S-65. He was unable to put any distance between us. Fun drive.

Love these AMG cars.

Last edited by JohnLane; 07-29-2018 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Bulletin board software adds words. (Rolls eyes)
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Old 07-29-2018, 07:18 PM
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Exactly, John. I’ve often wondered why they didn’t supercharge the V12. Although, I’d expect heat management to be an issue then, with the Kompressor between the banks. I think turbocharging works better with extreme heat, especially now that they use the hot-V technology. But while you can minimize the lag, no one has yet figured out how to eliminate it. I expect MB to be the first to figure that out, judging from their F1 success, but alas the V12 is going away altogether. I certainly don’t expect a Kompressor 8 to outrun a TTV12, but how they arrive will be different. Given the extra weight and complexity of the 65 cars, I decided the snappy 55 was the way to go for me, and haven’t really regretted that decision. On the 65s (and TT Porsche set), by the time the turbos spool, you have two problems: (1) you can’t get the power down, tire hop, etc; and (2) you’re in someone else’s back seat.

Luxurious problems to have though. The E5E guys all wonder why MB didn’t supercharge the M119 engine, and my response to them is always “They did. It’s called the M113k.” A pure hoot to put your foot into, with paddle shifters to boot.

Cheers,

maw

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Old 07-30-2018, 01:14 PM
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SL55, S500
Well written
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Old 08-02-2018, 09:32 PM
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'03 S55 (79K miles)
I Agree to the above good ole supercharged V8 vs turbo.
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