Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon full 9 point review
We've driven three models: the S350 Bluetec (which has a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine), the S500 (a 4.7-litre V8 petrol) and the S63 AMG (a 5.5-litre V8). Obviously, the S63 is the quickest model in the range, but the much cheaper S350 Bluetec also feels fast and flexible. There's a 3.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid as well, badged S400.
Ride & Handling
The S500 we drove was fitted with Merc’s optional Magic Body Control system (it's standard on the S63), which reads the road ahead so it can prepare the suspension for bumps and potholes you’re about to hit. Given how effective it is, it’s a little disappointing that it's available only on the more expensive petrol models, but cheaper cars with the standard air suspension still offer a smooth ride. Body roll is pretty well controlled, and the steering is nicely weighted.
The S350 is one of the most refined diesels we’ve ever driven, while the S500 and S63 emit an aggressive yet muted growl when you accelerate, but are virtually silent when you settle to a cruise. Every S-Class is brilliant at shutting out wind noise, too, even at fast motorway speeds. In fact, the only thing that really disturbs the peace is the odd clonk from the suspension.
Buying & Owning
Most buyers will opt for the S350 Bluetec diesel model, because this has claimed average economy of more than 50mpg in both standard- and long-wheelbase form. The S400 Hybrid is also impressively economical, but the S500 is very expensive to buy and run, and the S63 demands some serious cash.
Quality & Reliability
As you’d expect, the cabin is beautifully finished, with high-quality metal detailing, bespoke switchgear and swathes of double-stitched leather. However, it also feels very modern, because the dashboard is dominated by two widescreen TFT displays with sophisticated graphics. Mercedes finished an impressive fifth in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
The S-Class gets lots of safety equipment as standard, including a Pre-Safe system that uses the seatbelts to pull occupants into the best possible position if it detects that a crash is imminent. However, buyers can also specify everything from night vision to a system that lets the S-Class automatically follow the car in front in traffic jams; you don’t have to brake, accelerate or steer.
Behind The Wheel
As in other Mercs, you scroll through the various onscreen menus using a rotary dial that’s positioned between the front seats. This time, though, the shortcut buttons for individual systems are by the dial, where they’re easy to find and use, instead of up on the dashboard, mixed in with other controls. Finding a comfortable driving position is easy, too, thanks to an electrically adjustable seat that moves every which way.
Space & Practicality
So far we’ve experienced only the long-wheelbase model, which gives even the tallest passengers plenty of space. Several rear-seat layouts are available, including a three-person bench-style seat, and two individual chairs separated by a centre console with aircraft-style fold-out tables and cupholders that heat and cool drinks. The S-Class’s boot is easily big enough to swallow multiple sets of golf clubs.
The standard specification is good, but there’s also a long list of optional extras. These include everything from rear entertainment screens and a 24-speaker audio system, to an adjustable fragrance system and heated motors in the seats designed to replicate a ‘hot stone’ massage.