Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Buying in to the S Class club isn’t cheap. Even the cheapest – and most popular – S350d AMG Line is pricey. And, while the cheapest Range Rover is more expensive still, its closest saloon rival – the 7 Series 730d – will set you back quite a bit less. Keeping an eye on the longer term ownership costs a 3.0 diesel Range Rover will hold on to more of its value over three years than the S350d and so will an A8 50 TDI. Both rivals will cost less to service than the S350d, too.
The S Class’s CO2 emissions aren’t as impressive as those of its rivals, but the plug-in hybrid S560e will score better when it comes to delivering a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating. Bear in mind, though, that those who mainly make long motorway journeys won’t feel the 560e’s fuel-saving benefits quite so keenly – a plug-in hybrid’s electric motor really comes into its own at lower, urban speeds. And, If you’re considering an AMG S63 or S65, then be prepared for some big fuel bills.
Equipment, options and extras
Because the entry-level AMG Line comes so well equipped we’d stick with that rather than shelling out more cash. You get keyless start and entry, cruise control, 19in alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors and rear-view camera, metallic paint, adaptive LED headlights, leather seats, heated electric front seats with lumbar adjustment and memory recall, as well as the infotainment mentioned earlier, with its twin 12.3in displays.
You can add a couple of packs to further boost the goody count. Firstly the Premium pack includes 360-degree camera, soft-close doors, ventilated front seats and Nappa leather seat trim. Meanwhile, the Premium Plus pack adds massaging seats, a fragrance system and Burmester 590w stereo on top.
We’d certainly consider adding the Driving Assistance Plus Package, which adds adaptive cruise control, steering assist and a host of extra safety and convenience aids.
In the 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey, Mercedes placed a lowly 26th out of 31 manufacturers assessed, some way behind BMW and Audi. Unfortunately, we don’t have any data for the S Class as a standalone model.
Every S Class comes with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty and breakdown cover.
Safety and security
The S Class gets a vast quantity of state-of-the-art 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, and automatic emergency braking (AEB) to hopefully prevent the crash happening.
There are plenty of safety-related options, too. Buyers can order everything from a night vision system, to a system that allows the S Class to automatically follow the car in front in traffic jams – you don’t have to brake, accelerate, steer or even change lanes yourself, because the car can do it all –although you must still pay attention to the road. From mid 2017 this system was updated to include the ability to read the road ahead using GPS data and slow down for bends, and to react to changing speed limits. Few rivals can compete with the car’s level of standard safety equipment, or the array of options available for those buyers with very deep pockets.
According to Thatcham Research, a security firm, the S Class scored the maximum five stars for its resistance to theft, and four stars for its resistance to being broken into.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
The 7 Series remains a worthy contender. However, its ride isn...
Stunning performance, but feels too much like a regular BMW 5...
Well equipped and distinctive but too flawed in key areas to r...
The Porsche Panamera is comfortable, luxurious and superb to d...