The winner Mercedes-Benz S350 CDI Blue Efficiency List price £57,110 Target price £52,947
This is the fourth year running that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has won this award. Surely its advantage has been eroded over time?
No – the opposite is true because Mercedes has just revised the car, making it even better. Let’s start with the changes. Our favourite from last year, the S320 CDI, has been replaced by the S350 CDI, which has a new engine with Mercedes’ Blue Efficiency technology.
The engine is still a 232bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, but average fuel economy is up from 34.0mpg to 37.2mpg, while CO2 emissions are down 21g/km – enough to drop it five company car tax bands.
Mercedes has also subtly restyled the bumpers, lights and front grille to make it that bit more imposing, plus there are new safety features, including monitors to detect a drowsy driver, unintended lane-changes or other cars sitting in your blind spots.
Even without these tweaks, we’d still find the S-Class hard to resist. It’s built to the most exacting standards using gorgeous materials, and will whisk you and four colleagues to high-pressure meetings in comfort.
The standard air suspension soaks up bumps in a quiet, cushy fashion, yet when the road becomes more demanding the S-Class is far more agile than a five-metre car should be.
At the same time, the engine is smooth and punchy, and there’s very little sound from the outside world once you’re settled in the cabin – so owners who prefer to sit in the back can work or relax unhindered.
A long-wheelbase S350 CDI is available for an extra £4000, but there’s no need to go to such lengths: the standard car is more than roomy enough.
All-new versions of the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ will go on sale later this year, but they’ll have to be good – very good – to dethrone the S-Class.