A while back, I tuned the engine and transmission computers in my 2007 Mercedes S600 for maximum performance, which resulted in what everyone expected would happen — it broke. Well … not really. Whatever noise was coming from the front wheel was gone the following day, but not before I posted a video that completely humiliated my biturbo V12 luxury saloon. Today, I put my Mercedes on a dynamometer — in part to test if the huge performance gains claimed by the tuning company were true, and also to let my S600 redeem itself.
The shop I used for this test had just installed a state-of-the-art dyno system, which is built to withstand 2,000 horsepower dragsters and speeds of 300 miles per hour. Unlike most "rolling road" style dynos, this one uses adapters that connect the vehicle’s hubs directly to the machine. Despite the shop focusing mostly on LS-powered vehicles, they had an adapter to fit my Mercedes — but my lug bolts were too long. This required a trip to the salvage yard to find shorter lugs — but that wasn’t the only hurdle to overcome.
With my S600 connected to the dyno, the traction control system freaked out trying to understand why the rear wheels were turning while the fronts remained stationary. Mercedes has a button to disable the traction control — but like most modern performance cars, it doesn’t turn completely off. Since the system is so integrated into the way the car functions, you can’t simply remove a fuse or relay, either.
Thankfully, Mercedes engineered a secret back door. By hitting a special combination of buttons on the steering wheel, a secret menu pops up in the instrument cluster. From there, you can disable all the electronic nannies that keep you from killing yourself and engage "dyno mode." Dyno mode might also double as race mode, since I noticed stiffer steering feedback as well.
Finally, the car was ready to make its run. The dyno operator entered all the vehicle data and did a few soft pulls before sending the engine howling to redline. The result: An incredible 489 horsepower and 589 lb-ft of torque. My S600 made two more runs, which resulted in slightly lower numbers than the first — likely because the turbos were starting to heat soak. Since it’s normal to lose 20 percent of power from the engine to the wheels, this bolsters the tuning company’s claim of more than 600 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque.
To put these numbers in perspective, compared to dyno results available online from different vehicles, my cheap Mercedes puts out 80 more horsepower and 130 more lb-ft of torque than a 1997 Dodge Viper GTS (yes, even the blue ones with white racing stripes). It also bests a new Nissan GT-R and the Lamborghini Huracan!
Unfortunately, my giant luxury sedan weighs literally a ton more than any of these cars, and it lacks all-wheel drive or enormous rear tires. If you smash the accelerator with zero traction control, all you’ll accomplish is turning the tires into liquid-hot magma, as there’s no way to get all that power to the pavement. This means my incredible dyno performance is only good for bragging rights … or is it? Maybe I should try the drag strip next, or perhaps a race track?
Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.
MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
BMW 325iX: BMW’s Little-Known All-Wheel Drive Beginnings
There’s an Ultra-Rare Mercedes CLK DTM Listed on Autotrader for $425,000
The Volvo 780 Was a Strange Attempt to Make Boxy Beautiful