When somebody looks for a large, luxury saloon for bigwigs and/or VIPs, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is bound to be recommended at some point. Whether it's the iconic W126 or the not-so-loved W220, an S-Class is still an S-Class. That said, the flagship saloon does have a reputation for draining the owner's bank account once the warranty is over.
But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to appreciate the generation that, in some ways, brought the model name back to better days. The model we're talking about is the W221 series of the S-Class. The W221 was unveiled in 2005 and was noted to be a marked improvement over its predecessor, the W220. Mercedes-Benz kept building these cars until 2013, and two generations have come around since production stopped.
Has time been kind to the W221 S-Class? That's what YouTube channel TopSpeedGermany answered by taking one of those on a top speed run on the Autobahn. The W221 model they drove was the most powerful, non-AMG version available, the S600, the long-wheelbase L, to be exact. This is the first W221 they tested on the channel, so it's interesting to see how this particular S600 fared.
Before you watch the video, how about some stats on this generation of the S600? It uses a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12. Also known as the M275 engine, it packs 510 bhp and 612 lb-ft of torque. Per the factory claims at the time, the S600 can do the 0 to 62 mph sprint in 4.6 seconds, and its top speed is limited to 155 mph.
We'll let the video do the talking, but there are a couple of things worth talking about. The start-up warning shown in German means ABS and ESP currently not available, see owner's manual. It seems that it went back on since the yellow warning triangle eventually disappeared. That said, the brake warning light kept flashing up, so perhaps there really was a problem with the ABS.
Another thing worth mentioning is the silence of this S-Class despite its age. Even during this V-max run, wind and engine noise was kept to a minimum. Even as it crept towards the redline, the W221 kept the buzz and the harshness away from the driver. After all, that is what everyone expects from the S-Class.
It's rather sad that you can't get the V12 engine in the standard S-Class anymore. You'll have to go for the Mercedes-Maybach S680 that's capped to just 100 units, or shell out even more for the armoured S-Class Guard.