What's the used Mercedes S-Class saloon like?
When this latest iteration of the S-Class was launched in 2014, it probably stung those at Rolls-Royce and Bentley because some pundits declared this Mercedes to be the best car in the world, and it did so at a fraction of the cost anything made by either British luxury car maker.
But, no matter how good value it was back then, you'd still have needed to be very affluent to buy a new one. Thankfully, with the onset of an all-new S-Class and the benefit of depreciation, you can buy a used example of this technological tour de force for the price of a factory-fresh small car.
It may came as a shock given the advanced engineering in an S-Class to discover that under its bonnet is a range of quite traditional petrol and diesel engines, albeit with some more on-trend hybrid options, too. The lone diesel is the 258bhp S350d, while the petrols range from the 455bhp 4.7-litre V8 in the S500 up to the 530bhp V12-engined S600. There’s also a petrol-electric hybrid known as the 302bhp S400h; a petrol plug-in hybrid called the S500e with 329bhp, as well as a diesel hybrid in the form of the 201bhp S300h.
As part of its facelift in 2018, the S-Class received a set of new engines aimed to maximise efficiency. The 3.0-litre diesel straight six became available in two states of tune: the 286bhp S350d and the more powerful 335bhp S400d. The petrol range benefitted from mild hybrid technology on the 363bhp S450 and revised 451bhp S500 models, while the 482bhp S560e plug-in hybrid gained an electric-only driving range of roughly 30 miles between charges. AMG continued to fit a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 in the 585bhp S63 and a turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 in the 621bhp S65.
Trim levels tend to be assigned to whichever engine you choose, but some give you the option of AMG or AMG Line trim. Both are more than well-equipped, as you might imagine, with AMG Line giving you keyless start and entry, cruise control, 19in alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, metallic paint, adaptive LED headlights, heated, electrically adjustable leather front seats with lumbar adjustment and a memory function, the Comand Online infotainment system with two 12.3in screens, sat-nav, and even Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a wireless smartphone charger are available in post facelifted examples from 2018 onwards.
On the road, the S-Class is, for a car of its size and weight, exceptional. Performance with any of the engines in situ is more than adequate. All S-Classes have a nine-speed automatic gearbox that works smoothly and quietly and shifts almost imperceptibly.
The S-Class also has one of the most cosseting rides, although not quite so isolating you from imperfections at town speeds as the latest Audi A8. It handles well, too, utilising all the technology it carries to corner with verve, especially so for a luxury limousine. The steering is precise and you'll find plenty of grip, but where the S-Class shines brightest is in terms of refinement since few other cars can waft like it, making it sublime on the motorway.
Inside, it’s even more impressive. It’s awash with all the kit you could want, never mind need, and provides a great driving position with good visibility. All the major and minor controls are logically placed, work with a well-damped action and have a high-quality feel that few rivals can match. All models get a crisp 12.3in infotainment display that’s intuitive to operate, via touch or a rotary controller.
There’s plenty of space up front and masses in the back, too, especially with the long-wheelbase chassis, which is standard on all variants bar the S350d. And there’s a large boot that's more than adequate for a week’s worth of holiday luggage, although the S500e and S560e plug-in hybrids have smaller boots (395 litres and 410 litres) because their batteries required take up some space.
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