The Mercedes S-Class comes with plenty of features designed to make it as relaxing as possible but its sublimely comfy Magic Body Control suspension costs an eye-watering amount
You can get the Mercedes S-Class with either a range of six-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.
The Mercedes S-Class range kicks off with the S350d – a 3.0-litre V6 that strikes a good balance between performance and economy. This is thanks, in part, to a mild-hybrid drive system that uses a small electric motor to assist the engine when you’re cruising and accelerating. As a result, it’ll return around 45mpg compared with Mercedes’ claimed 52.3mpg figure and will accelerate from 0-62mph in six seconds – that’s nearly a second faster than the old S350d with its conventional diesel engine.
There’s also a more powerful S400d model that’s faster but slightly less frugal. These long-wheelbase-only versions accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and return a claimed 48.7mpg. In normal driving conditions, however, they’ll manage approximately 40mpg.
Even more frugal is the plug-in hybrid S560e version. This uses a 367hp V6 petrol engine working in conjunction with a 120hp electric motor to boost fuel economy to a whopping 108mpg. Drive carefully – or instruct your chauffeur to go easy on the accelerator – and you’ll probably see a figure in the region of 75mpg. With the batteries fully charged, you’ll also be able to travel for up to 30 miles on electric power alone – perfect for slinking almost silently through city centres. Recharging the batteries from 10% to 100% takes 90 minutes using a dedicated wall charger, or as long as five hours using a conventional three-pin plug socket.
You can get the S-Class with a multitude of advanced driving systems that’ll make it feel like you’ve got your own personal chauffeur – on motorways at least
If performance is higher on your list of priorities than fuel economy, you’ll want to consider a petrol-powered Mercedes S-Class S450 or S500 instead. These will reach 62mph from rest in 5.1 and 4.8 seconds respectively and are slightly quieter than the diesels when you accelerate hard. Just like the S400d version, they’re only available in long-wheelbase L guise.
All models come with a nine-speed automatic gearbox that’s responsive and silky smooth. It blends gears together beautifully and doesn’t lurch when you accelerate hard.
Adaptive air suspension is standard across the Mercedes S-Class range. It separates you from the road with a cushion of pressurised air and helps soften the blow of large potholes. As a result, the S-Class is more comfortable around town than the stiffer BMW 7 Series and makes all but the most pockmarked motorways feel glass-smooth.
To help make long drives feel even more relaxing, you’ll want to pay extra for the Magic Body Control feature. It costs a fairly hefty amount but uses cameras that scan the road ahead to prepare the S-Class’ suspension for any particularly monstrous potholes. It’s not quite as advanced as the system you get in an Audi A8 but it still helps make the Mercedes S-Class one of the most comfortable cars on sale.
The Mercedes’ vast length can make manoeuvring through tight streets a little difficult but its controls are light and the quick-witted automatic gearbox manages to make light work of stop-start traffic. Head out onto a motorway, however, and the Mercedes S-Class really comes into its own. All its engines are quiet, smooth and easily powerful enough to blast past slow-moving traffic without so much as a mild thrum.
Wind and tyre noise are impressively muted, too. You’ll hear barely a whistle from the wind at motorway speeds and the standard air suspension helps keep road noise to a minimum – even in models fitted with larger 20-inch alloy wheels.
Visibility is reasonably good – the relatively thin pillars between the doors and the windscreen don’t create any particularly annoying blindspots, but the fairly small rear windscreen can make parking a touch tricky. Thankfully, all models come with parking sensors, a reversing camera and a self-parking system that’ll steer for you into bay and parallel spaces.
The high-tech features don’t stop there. All models come with a 360-degree camera that displays a bird’s eye view of your surroundings on the infotainment screen and automatic emergency braking to help stop the car if it detects an obstacle ahead.
The latter helps make the Mercedes S-Class one of the safest cars on sale, but for even greater peace of mind you’ll want to pay extra for the Driving Assistance Pack. This comes with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist that can essentially drive the car for you on motorways or in heavy traffic.