- Dynamic styling with soaring pace to match
- Exquisite luxury and beautifully refined ride comfort
- Bundles of room in the back to work while being chauffeur-driven
- You will need £100k-plus for the range-topper
- Its larger-than-life dimensions will make finding a parking space difficult
- It feYou will need £100k-plus for the range-topperels quite large to drive when firing through the B roads
Mercedes has unleashed its all-new flagship S-Class saloon and it oozes charm, sophistication and luxury at every turn.
Boasting outstanding handling, plus every bell and whistle you can think of, this is the ideal limousine especially if you select the long-wheel base versions.
Customers have plenty of choice with trim levels called AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus, AMG Line Premium Executive and AMG Line Premium Plus Executive. There are diesel and petrol models and even a mild hybrid version.
It’s a very premium car with a very premium price-tag.
On The Road
We opted for the range-topping S 400 d 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus Executive model which is long-wheel base and powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine developing 330hp and 700Nm of torque.
And with that power on tap this car, which weighs 2.8 tonnes, can power its way from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds and maxes out at an electronically-limited 155mph.
There is a perfectly-timed nine-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles for added driver fun and there are also drive modes that alter the responses of the car. These are called Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual and, in the sportier modes, the acceleration, steering, gear changes and braking all become more aggressive.
On motorways, the S Class hits 70mph in the blink of an eye and it will cruise there without a care in the world. But I was surprised at how agile the car was through faster country lanes. You will find yourself breathing in at times as its quite a wide vehicle, but the confident road grip and beautifully poised balance were most impressive.
In busier settings such as town centres or congested cities, the S Class does feel quite a handful, but the light steering and agility through the 12.8-metre turning lock, along with all manner of cameras and parking aids, make life that little bit easier. Be warned though, you will need an extra-long parking space.
When a car is sitting on 21-inch alloy wheels you would expect the ride to suffer as a compromise for the great looking wheels. But that’s not the case with the S Class and that’s very good news as most owners will be experiencing life on the move from the back seats.
The ride is beautifully cushioned and the car features air suspension to smooth out the roughest surfaces along the way, meaning hard-working execs will have no problems getting in a quick power nap without being jolted back into life by a random pothole or two.
I would say the S Class is more focused towards comfort than dynamic, brute-force power, but it’s certainly no slouch – it simply powers along but in a very mature manner.
When it comes to refinement, it’s top marks for the S Class with barely a sound filtering through into the beautifully insulated cabin. And the ride is so smooth – it feels like the car is gliding at times. That makes it the ideal office on the move.
And just in case you want more, there are 10 different massage programmes on the new S Class. There are even noise reduced tyres with foam absorber for added comfort.
Plus there is the reassurance of Mercedes 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system that will help ensure the car remains firmly planted in more adverse driving and weather conditions.
The S Class stretches more than 5.2 metres in length and is 2.13 metres across, so it would be fair to say it will be difficult to ignore. But despite its larger-than-life dimensions, it its beautifully styled with muscular curves and dynamic streamlining.
At the front are sweeping light clusters with digital light and adaptive highbeam assist plus. There is the distinctive Mercedes grille, an AMG front apron in an A-wing design with large chrome air intakes and fins, plus front splitter in chrome.
At the back are twin tailpipes, an AMG rear apron with diffuser and trim element in chrome and the styling is finished off with 21-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels with grey brake calipers.
Moving inside, you will immediately be struck by the wow factor. This is luxurious motoring at its very finest with soft Nappa leather upholstery, ambient lighting with 64 shades and thermotronic four-zone automatic climate control.
The S Class has a Chauffeur Package which is ideal if there is a passenger in the back working away. It means the front passenger headrest can be folded forward or removed, that seat can also be adjusted by the rear occupant and they are treated to an electrically extendable footrest too.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
There are very few cars that take your breath away when you get into the driving seat, but the Mercedes S Class does just that. Not because it is blisteringly quick to drive – it is by the way – but because of the level of on-board technology. It is perhaps one of the finest cabins out there today.
As the company’s flagship model, Mercedes generally throws everything it has at the S Class and the great news is that much of the tech filters down to other models.
Powered seats and a power-adjustable steering wheel mean the driver has a perfect position in seconds and there are memory setting to store the information.
The car features the latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) with a 12.8-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display with optional 3D effect. It looks amazing and there is a MBUX tablet too that can be used as a fully-fledged tablet outside the vehicle.
An intuitive on-board personal assistant can be summoned with the magic words ‘Hey Mercedes’ and then asked to do tasks such as adjust the temperature, find a parking space, change the radio station and much more. It can even take requests from passengers in any of the seats.
Everything works seamlessly and the cockpit is very driver focused with a wealth of on-board kit to explore, including a Burmaster 3D surround sound system, head-up display, DAB radio, full smartphone integration, a fingerprint scanner and lots more.
Space & Practicality
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to get an upgrade on a flight, the excitement can get the better of you as you realise you can only just reach the seat in front if you stretch out. The S Class reminds me of this. You can touch the front seats but the amount of legroom is excellent, especially in the long-wheel base model as tested.
The S Class has to offer outstanding comfort in both the front and back of the car as many owners will rarely drive, but instead be driven. And it does just that. The rear seats can be power-operated like the front ones and also have memory settings, along with heating and ventilation options.
There is a powered footrest that extends from the rear of the front passenger seat for added comfort and electric sunblinds will make working in the back on bright days simpler. Heated armrests in the front and rear doors add an extra touch of class.
The boot can accommodate 550 litres of luggage (an increase of 20 litres over the outgoing version) and although the seats cannot be folded forward for added storage space, there is a ski hatch for longer items.
Throughout the cabin, there is a lockable glovebox, deep door bins, a practical central cubby compartment, seat back pockets, handy trays plus front and rear cup holders.
The S Class can also be used for towing with a 2.1-tonne limit and the 4MATIC all-wheel drive will prove handy in the process.
The Mercedes S Class line-up starts from £78,705 for the S 350 d AMG Line in standard wheelbase and rises to £104,425 for the range-topping S 400 d 4MATIC L AMG Line Premium Plus Executive version that we tested.
As this car featured everything Mercedes could throw at it in the way of technical packs and additional safety kit, there were no optional extra costs to factor in.
When it comes to day-to-day running costs, the test car could deliver 37.7mpg with carbon emissions of 196g/km. This high CO2 figure would mean quite a hefty Vehicle Excise Duty (or road tax) charge of £1,335 for the first year, dropping to the standard fee of £155 after 12 months.
But as the car costs in excess of £40k, owners will be charged an extra premium car levy of £335 per year for five years.
For company car drivers, the car has Benefit in Kind rating of 37 per cent.
The insurance group rating for the test car is 50.
Quality & Reliability
Mercedes has a decent enough reputation when it comes to reliability and the S Class should deliver years of trouble-free motoring.
The fine leather upholstery not only looks premium in its styling, but it also feels like it has been developed with longevity in mind.
Everything about the S Class is top quality from the interior design to the build quality. Soft close doors and powered window blinds, along with a hands-free boot are just a few of the features. But in reality, the list goes on and on, meaning after several weeks of driving you will still be discovering clever touches.
The innovative instrumentation and switchgear look like they will still be just as appealing after several thousand miles of hard driving have been clocked up and there are more than 50 new electronic components inside the new S Class, with over-the-air software updates so the car will always have the latest technology.
For added peace of mind, the S Class comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, plus Mercedes Mobile Roadside assistance across Europe.
Safety & Security
The latest Mercedes S Class has not yet been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, but the outgoing car received a maximum five stars and the new model boasts even more tech.
In fact, the car is packed to bursting with safety kit and driver assistance aids to help protect all occupants as well as other road users. And there are numerous advanced systems to help prevent accidents happening in the first place too.
Standard equipment includes electric stability program with acceleration skid control, pre-safe, attention assist and a full suite of airbags.
But the car now features a Driving Assistance Package on all variants and that includes updates to various safety features such as active distance assist with DISTRONIC that helps prevent collisions up to 80mph (previously 37mph), traffic sign assist now warns the driver if they are about to drive through a red light, active lane keeping assist and active evasive steering assist that now operates at speeds of up to 67mph improved from 44mph on the outgoing model.
Remote locking, a quality alarm and immobiliser will help keep any uninvited attention at bay.
Few models, if any, offer the sublime luxury and comfort delivered by the Mercedes S Class. It’s the perfect car to be chauffeured in from meeting to meeting, but you will be wanting to give that driver as much time off as possible and grabbing the keys for yourself.