2008 Mercedes-Benz S63
IN FLEET: May 9-23
AS-TESTED PRICE: $143,310
DRIVETRAIN: 6.3-liter V8; rwd, seven-speed automatic
OUTPUT: 518 hp @ 6800 rpm, 465 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 4665 lb
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA/AW): 13/16.5 mpg

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JONATHAN WONG: This Mercedes-Benz S63 is a supreme cruiser. It has more gizmos than the Sharper Image catalog and makes one heck of a statement on the road. Although itís probably not something I would consider buying, I appreciate everything it brought me during a weekend that was packed with nearly 700 miles of driving.

The massive V8 engine muscles this heavy ship along easily and emits a throaty tone when you drop the hammer. According to Mercedes, 0 to 60 mph comes in 4.5 seconds, which is believable but totally floors me because itís such a big car. When you gently push the throttle, you whip past slower traffic and merge onto the expressway with aplomb. The giant brakes are--as expected--strong, with a great pedal feel.

The best part is a ride that one of my back-seat passengers described as ďgliding.Ē Cracks and potholes--even crater-size ones--do nothing to upset the ride; both passengers fell asleep as I chauffeured them. The S63 stays composed at all times, and the suspension keeps it smooth and steady when rounding on-ramps without large amounts of roll.

Distronic Plus cruise control proved to be my favorite gadget of all, and it is the best radar-cruise-control unit Iíve encountered. Set the system, turn on the massaging seats, dial up a favorite Sirius station and rack up the miles.

The S63 is a luxury suite on wheels thatís fun to drive and to be driven in. And it gets plenty of looks--why wouldnít it? Its large 20-inch rims fill up the wheel wells to give it a lower stance and sleek looks.

You would own the road in this. That is, unless you run into someone driving the turbocharged V12 S65.

SENIOR EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: Aside from this S63ís awe-inspiring power and handling, the electronics are nothing short of space-age. Driving home late at night in the rain, appropriately from a dinner with folks who do automotive telematics, I was happy to have the S63ís arsenal at my disposal. After punching my address into the navigation system and getting gentle guidance from the disembodied female nav voice, the lights and wipers all working automatically to provide visibility, I reached over and tapped the night-vision display to focus more tech on my path. With that front view replacing the speedo and providing an extra measure of visibility, I was comfortable clicking on the Distronic active cruise control to handle matching pace with traffic on my chosen route homeward.

Yes, the S63 is a beast when you want to drive hard, but itís like a leather-lined personal jet fighter when you want some computer-aided coddling as well.