The Storm From Stuttgart: Mercedes-Benz’s 18 Fastest Cars
Beautiful. Timeless. Luxurious. These words all come to mind when most people think of Mercedes-Benz. One word that doesn’t always come to mind, however, is fast, and that’s a shame. Mercedes-Benz has around since cars began running on gas (that’s 130 years and counting, if you’re keeping score), and has been at the forefront of automotive performance nearly every step of the way.
In the 1920s and ’30s, its supercharged roadsters and aerodynamic racers were trailblazers in Europe. After World War II, it triumphantly returned to racing in the 1950s, before a horrific 1955 crash at Le Mans led to the automaker pulling out of competition — and performance cars — for decades. In the 1980s, the company returned to the races thanks to help from tuner AMG. The aftermarket company was bought by Benz in the ’90s, and since then, it’s been making up for lost time.
In recent years, Mercedes has been dominating Formula 1, its AMG cars are some of the best performance cars on the road, and its offerings seem to get faster and more luxurious with each passing year. Here, we’ve listed out some of the fastest Mercedes of all-time, and unsurprisingly, many of them are still in production. We’ve left out concept cars, one-offs, and third-party modified vehicles things like Brabus or Mansory. As a side note, we ranked them by zero to 60 times, because some of the heavier performance models are actually slower to the mark than smaller and more nimble offerings. With that in mind, here are the 18 fastest production Mercedes of all-time.
18. 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S
While the standard GLE is a comfortable and well-built luxury SUV, the GLE 63 S is one of the quickest people-movers in the world. With a 5.5 liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood, the GLE 63 S has 577 horsepower on tap and can make the zero to 60 sprint in just 4.1 seconds. Other AMG modifications mean that the SUV far better than you’d expect by just looking at it.
17. 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA45
Matching the GLE 63 S’ straight-line speed is one of the least-loved members of the Mercedes lineup. The bargain-basement CLA-Class hasn’t done much to excite the Mercedes faithful, but in the hands of AMG, it gets a near-175 horsepower boost. With 375 horses and 350 pound-feet of torque from the 2.0 liter turbo, the CLA45 is one hell of a performance car. Zero to 60 comes in just 4.1 seconds.
16. 2008 CLK 63 Black Series
On paper, the CLK Black Series is a muscle car. At least, it follows the same formula: A big honkin’ V8 up front, flared fender arches, and a low, wide stance. Only in the 2000s (2008, specifically), the CLK Black Series had 500 horsepower and 485 pound-feet of torque to play with — enough to catapult it to 60 in about 4.0 seconds, and a 186 mile per hour governed top speed, though really at that speed, it’s probably more about preserving the engine’s internals than the driver’s.
15. 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
When most casual gearheads think about compact German sport sedans, they think of one car: The BMW M3. And you know what? Let ’em think that; it’ll only lead to more embarrassed Bimmer drivers. Because the red-hot C-Class packs a 503 horsepower, 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 that takes the four door from a standstill to 60 in 3.9 seconds — 0.1 second faster than the M3.
14. 2017 Mercedes AMG SL65
While the legendary SL-Class doesn’t quite occupy the top of the Mercedes lineup like it used to, the SL65 is all business. Utilizing a 6.0 liter twin-turbo V12 that makes 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, this hardtop convertible rockets from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds, and on to a limited top speed of 186 miles per hour.
13. 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63
Did you know that the range-topping S-Class is the twin-turbo V12 powered AMG S65? Here’s something that may surprise you: For nearly $75K less (it’s $144K, but still), you can get the twin-turbo V8-powered S63, which is less powerful, but actually faster. Despite being down four cylinders and 44 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque, the S63’s 577 ponies and 664 pound-feet of torque are nothing to sneeze at. With all-wheel drive and all of the advanced features the S-Class has to offer, help take the car from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds quicker than the heavier, more powerful S65.
12. 2004 Mercedes CLK DTM
It’s safe to say that Mercedes had a lot of fun with the CLK Class while it was around. The CLK DTM was a 100 car homologation special built in conjunction with Mercedes-AMG’s racing partner H.W.A. GmbH for the German Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) racing series. If those huge vented fended flares don’t tell you anything, we will: It churns out 582 horsepower from its 5.5-liter supercharged V8. That’s enough to send it to 60 in 3.8 seconds, and the top speed was “limited” to 200.
11. 2009 Mercedes SLR McLaren
The Mercedes SLR McLaren was essentially a street-legal showcase for Mercedes’s Formula 1 technology, and as such, packed a 617 horsepower, 575 pound-foot, supercharged V8. Developed with then-racing partner McLaren, the SLR utilized racing tech like a carbon fiber body shell and lightweight ceramic brakes. Production ended when McLaren decided to focus on street cars of its own, but by then, the SLR was already a legend. Top speed was 206 miles per hour, and 62 came up in just 3.8 seconds.
10. 1999 Mercedes CLK GTR
In the ’90s, Mercedes got back to racing in a big way. And in an uncharacteristically un-Mercedes move, it sold 26 barely street legal versions of its CLK GTR endurance racer for homologation purposes. Built to compete in the GT1 class at races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the road-ready CLK GTRs were powered by a 6.9-liter V12 engine, producing 604 horsepower and 572 pound-feet of torque (the race cars used a 6.0 liter V12). This allowed the car to nail 60 from a standstill in just 3.8 seconds, before reaching a terminal speed of 199 miles per hour.
9. 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63
Like the S-Class sedan, the twin-turbo V8 powered coupe is actually quicker than the top-dog V12 by 0.3 seconds. The same 577 ponies and 664 pound-feet of torque are on tap here, and that’s enough to rocket the big coupe from zero to 60 in just 3.8 seconds. And if hardtops aren’t your thing, the S63 Cabriolet puts up identical numbers.
8. 2014 Mercedes C63 Edition 507
It may be a few years old, but the C63 Edition 507 is still scary impressive. The coupe, which had — not surprisingly — 507 horsepower, made the zero to 60 sprint in 3.6 seconds at the hands of Car and Driver, besting Mercedes’ own 4.1 second zero to 60 projection.
7. 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT S
Since 2014, the AMG GT has been Mercedes’ Porsche 911-slayer. With classic long hood/short deck proportions it looks the part. And with a 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 cranking out 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, it’s fast as hell too. Zero to 60 comes in a scant 3.7 seconds.
6. 2014 Mercedes-AMG SLS GT
The SLS AMG was Mercedes’ first production car designed by the AMG team, and it didn’t disappoint. Like a brutally modern update of the classic ’50s-era 300SL, the gull-winged SLS GT had a 6.2 liter V8 which in its final iteration cranked out 583 horses and 479 pound-feet of torque. The end result was an impressively fast 3.6 second zero to 60 sprint and a top speed of around 197 miles per hour.
5. 2007 Mercedes SLR McLaren 722
With the Mercedes SLR McLaren 722, the Mercedes-McLaren team actually found a way to shorten the already meager gap between the standard SLR and an F1 car. The 641 horsepower supercharged car was named after the number on Sir Sterling Moss’ Mercedes 300SLR when he won the 1955 Mille Miglia. Coincidentally, that race also started at 7:22 a.m.
Only 150 examples of the commemorative car were built, and with a top speed of 209 miles per hour and a 3.6 second zero to 60 time, it remains one of the fastest Mercedes of all time.
4. 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLS63 S 4MATIC
Sportier and smaller than the S-Class, though still a sedan regardless of how Mercedes markets it, the CLS is largely responsible for ushering in the “four door coupe” craze that reigns supreme today. And once AMG gets ahold of the current car, it becomes one of the fastest four-doors in the world. With its 5.5 liter twin-turbo cranking out 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, the CLS63 S sends all that power to all four wheels for a 3.5 second zero to 60 sprint.
3. 2015 Mercedes-AMG E63 S
The E63 S is a thing of the past for now, but that doesn’t make it any less great. Its twin-turbo V8 made a whopping 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, and it could make the jaunt to 60 in just 3.5 seconds. What’s more, you could get all this power as a station wagon too. With a new E-Class hitting the streets for 2017, the top, dog is the 396 horse E43 sedan. With the current car better in every way over the old one, we’re holding our breath for the next-gen E63, which should arrive as a 2018 model.
2. 2009 Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss – 3.5
Take the aforementioned SLR 722. Remove everything unnecessary — you know, the windshield, the passenger seat, any creature comforts and safety equipment you wouldn’t mind missing. Jack up the price by nearly a factor of two, and you have what is essentially the SLR Stirling Moss — named for the famed British racing driver who helped take Mercedes to the top of the racing world in the 1950s, and inspired by the no-nonsense cars he drove. Built as the swan song for the Mercedes-McLaren partnership, only 75 units were made. Top speed was 217 miles per hour (again, without a windshield), and zero to 60 came in 3.5 seconds.
1. 2014 Mercedes-AMG SLS Black Series
The Black Series label is reserved for Mercedes’ performance models that are even more bonkers than AMG models, and as far as sheer insanity goes, the SLS AMG Black Series is the craziest thing the German brand has ever put into production. With a top speed of 196, there have been faster Mercedes. But with a 3.2 second zero to 60 time, there has never been another production Merc that can beat that mark. Just a few hundred of the 622 horsepower supercars were built, and sold at around $250K each. If you’re looking for one today, you’ll likely end up paying more than that.