In-depth reviews

Mercedes S-Class saloon review

"The Mercedes S-Class now features even more technology but rivals are closer than ever to stealing its crown"

Carbuyer Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£74,540 - £201,335

Pros

  • Incredibly refined
  • Class-leading technology
  • 62-mile electric range for PHEV

Cons

  • High running costs
  • Only one petrol engine
  • Expensive to buy

Sitting atop its vast model range, the Mercedes S-Class represents the pinnacle of the manufacturer’s technology and engineering expertise. It has often been described as the 'world's best car' as a result, appealing to customers who want the equivalent of a business jet for the road.

Despite offering such a rarefied experience, it isn't short of rivals; the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series are its closest competitors but models like the Bentley Flying Spur and long-wheelbase Range Rover target similar buyers. Traditionally, the S-Class has been a fairly subtle car for the wealthy and the latest version is just as discreet.

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It's based on an all-new platform, ushering in an even greater level of technological sophistication. Not only is the MBUX infotainment setup upgraded to 'next generation' status, but Mercedes is promising Level 3 'hands off' autonomous motorway driving in due course (where the law allows it).

Inside, the S-Class is adorned in swathes of wooden trim and leather, and Mercedes has made great use of ambient lighting to alter its character as you drive. The centrepiece is a new portrait MBUX screen rising up to meet the dashboard and controlling most of the car's functions. There's also a new digital instrument display with augmented reality navigation instructions but we found these could sometimes lag slightly behind our position on the road. Comfort is on a par with the world's most opulent cars (or any form of transport for that matter), particularly in long wheelbase versions with reclining rear seats and entertainment.

Every version gets air suspension and a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard, which combined with impressive aerodynamics ensure the inside of the S-Class is quiet and cushioned. However, we were disappointed that some bumps sent a shudder through the interior, possibly because of the 21-inch wheels fitted to our test car. Despite its size and weight, it can also handle like a smaller car, particularly when four-wheel steering is fitted. This can turn the rear wheels by a staggering 10 degrees, giving the car the same turning circle as a Mercedes A-Class hatchback.

The engine line-up consists of the S 350 d and S 400 d with 282bhp and 325bhp respectively, getting the S-Class from 0-62mph in less than 6.5 seconds. Only the S 350 d is offered with rear-wheel drive, with other versions getting 4Matic four-wheel drive and a stretched wheelbase as standard. Fuel-economy is just over 40mpg for the entry-model and just under it for the S 400 d, while CO2 emissions of 173-184g/km place it in the top 37% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band.

Choose petrol and for now the S 500 with 429bhp and mild-hybrid tech is the only choice, but an S 580e plug-in hybrid could be worth waiting for. With a 3.0-litre petrol engine and 28kWh battery, it's capable of more than 62 miles from a single charge - double that of the Audi and BMW. Its low CO2 figure will also appeal to business buyers and those frequenting low emission zones like London’s Congestion Charge area.

Inside, the S-Class is adorned in swathes of wooden trim and leather, and Mercedes has made great use of ambient lighting to alter its character as you drive. The centrepiece is a new portrait MBUX screen rising up to meet the dashboard and controlling most of the car's functions. There's also a new digital instrument display with augmented reality navigation instructions. Comfort is on a par with the world's most opulent cars (or any form of transport for that matter), particularly in long wheelbase versions with reclining rear seats and entertainment.

It's unlikely Euro NCAP will crash-test the S-Class because of its small production numbers, but occupants should feel very well-protected. Almost every bit of safety kit you can imagine is fitted, and new advances include air suspension that rockets the S-Class 80mm higher than usual if a side-impact is imminent, helping protect occupants by using more of the doors to shield them.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    S350d Grand Edition 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £74,540

Most Economical

  • Name
    S580e L AMG Line Premium 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £103,695

Fastest

  • Name
    Maybach First Class S680 4Matic 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £201,335

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