Mercedes S-Class saloon
Price £66,910 - £179,985
- Incredibly quiet
- Luxurious interior
- Futuristic technology
- Some tech only available on top model
- Options are expensive
- Large dimensions
At a glance
"The Mercedes S-Class is one of the most comfortable and technology-loaded cars you can buy."
The Mercedes S-Class is famous for being the German firm's most luxurious and technology-laden model and this latest version is no exception. Comfort is a big priority in a car like this and the S-Class is undoubtedly one of the most relaxing cars to drive (or be driven in) that money can buy.
The long-wheelbase model is particularly luxurious with the Executive pack, which allows the rear seats to recline up to 43.5 degrees, so it almost feels like you're lying down. The range consists of an S350 V6 diesel, an S500 V8 petrol, an S400 petrol-electric hybrid and an S500 plug-in hybrid – all of which are quiet and comfortable on long motorway journeys.
The price tag is high, but for many buyers the sheer amount of comfort and technology will make the S-Class worth it.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Hybrid models are the most efficient - especially the diesel
If you're looking for an S-Class with the best balance of purchase price and fuel economy, the S300 BlueTEC Hybrid is the best bet. It returns 53.5mpg and has 115g/km CO2 emissions, so road tax only costs £30 annually – impressive for such a huge car.
The S500 Plug-In Hybrid will return an excellent 90mpg and has 71g/km CO2 emissions, though at a much higher list price of around £100,000. It's exempt from both road tax and London Congestion Charge and could cost almost nothing to run if your regular journeys are short enough to remain in electric mode.
Our pick as the car with the best performance and economy combination would be the S350 BlueTEC diesel, which is fast and still manages CO2 emissions of just 146g/km.
Engines, drive & performance
Light controls and relaxing drive
Our pick of the engines on offer is the S350 BlueTEC diesel, which combines decent economy with loads of power. It can do 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, but actually feels even faster than that and is really quiet, too.
The S300 Hybrid gets better economy, but it's not as fast and is a bit noisier than the diesel S350. If you're not concerned about running costs, though, the S500 is the smoothest engine of all, as well as the most powerful (excluding the S63 AMG high-performance version).
The S500 Plug-In Hybrid is fast, but it'll never pin you back in your seat. It builds speed at an alarming rate and will do up to 87mph on electric power alone. Prod the throttle sharply and the engine will kick in, although it does so almost seamlessly. This model also features very clever adaptive cruise. When you approach a slower-moving car, the engine cuts out and allows the car to coast, before kicking back in when the path is clear.
The controls are all very light and driving the S-Class is very relaxing – it's not exactly fun, but then most buyers in this class will be looking for a comfortable car rather than one with sporty handling.
Interior & comfort
The most comfortable Mercedes S-Class ever
The S-Class has always been well known for its impeccable comfort and refinement and this latest car is the best yet. At 70mph, you can't hear any wind rushing past the car, or even the engine. There's a tiny bit of noise coming from the tyres, but it's all so quiet that you can actually whisper to your passengers.
If you go for the optional Executive Seat package you can recline with your legs fully stretched out in the rear seats, even if you're six feet tall. You can also specify a heated and cooled massage function for all the seats, including one that supposedly mimics a hot stone massage. Built-in screens for watching films or accessing the internet are available, along with a wi-fi hotspot and an incredible 24-speaker stereo system.
As well as all the luxuries, you get an incredibly comfortable suspension set-up that cushions you from every single bump in the road. Go for the S500 model and you can specify Mercedes' Magic Body Control system for about £4,000. This scans the road ahead for bumps and sets up the suspension before you get to them. Only cars like the Rolls-Royce Ghost can match the S-Class for comfort.
Practicality & boot space
Long-wheelbase version offers loads of legroom
All models in the S-Class range have plenty of legroom for rear-seat passengers, but rear space in the long-wheelbase version is particularly cavernous. In the standard version, you can recline up to 37 degrees, with the longer car allowing a steeper angle of 43.5 degrees for an even more relaxing journey.
With the Executive pack (an option on the long-wheelbase models), you also get a long centre console that stretches into the rear, complete with fold-out tables and massaging seats. There's even a wi-fi hotspot for internet use and a 200GB hard drive, as well as two screens – making the rear of the S-Class a superb mobile office.
Note that the S500 Plug-In Hybrid has 20 litres less boot space than the standard petrol and diesel models.
Reliability & safety
Should prove to be one of the safest cars on the market
Mercedes has an excellent reputation for reliability, so even though there are lots of electronic parts to go wrong, we don't expect the S-Class to be an unreliable car by any means. There's a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty for peace of mind, while the Mercedes dealer network is extensive and well regarded.
The old S-Class was one of the safest cars available. so we expect this one to do similarly well in the Euro NCAP crash tests when it's evaluated. The list of equipment is huge, and includes warnings when you're moving out of lane on the motorway, automatic braking if the car senses a collision, a camera that can spot pedestrians in the dark and automatic braking if the car is involved in a rear-end crash.
Price, value for money & options
Not cheap, but very high quality and lots of standard equipment
The S-Class is available in SE Line or AMG Line specifications, with the latter costing around £5,000 more. Buyers of SE models won't be disappointed, though, with LED headlights, air-suspension, sat nav and full leather upholstery all included as standard. AMG models get a more aggressive bodykit, larger 19-inch alloy wheels and a few tweaks to the interior, too.
There are plenty of costly options on offer, and since many buyers will want to personalise their S-Class, these can really push the price up. The Magic Body Control system costs about £4,000, while the Executive Rear package will set you back £5,000 and you can get an uprated stereo that'll cost you a few thousand pounds, too.
The S-Class is a bit more expensive than an Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series, but it's actually more on par with far more expensive models like the Rolls-Royce Ghost or Bentley Flying Spur – both of which cost well over £100,000.