4.5 out of 5 4.5
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Big Mercedes-Benz comes loaded with tech, but feels less weighed-down

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon (20 on) - rated 4.5 out of 5
Enlarge 26 photos

At a glance

New price £77,835 - £109,030
Lease from new From £1,076 p/m View lease deals
Used price £47,040 - £84,025
Fuel Economy 31.7 - 42.8 mpg
Road tax cost £490
New

PROS

  • Excels at comfort and luxury
  • Amazing handling precision
  • Plug-in gets 60 miles on battery

CONS

  • Extensive touchscreen controls take acclimatisation
  • Impressive headline tech is optional
  • Driver assistance can be intrusive

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

Here it is: the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class - a car that in each new generation is tasked with setting new standards of excellence.

Even if you're not in the market for a new luxury car, you should take notice, as much of the technology that debuts in this car will undoubtedly filter down into more popular cars over the next few years.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the percentage of people that can afford them, the luxury car market  is very diverse. The S-Class faces rivals in the form of the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. It also has to battle top-end SUVs, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS as well as the ever-popular Range Rover.

This is ignoring the growing selection of four-door coupes as well (Mercedes’ own offering, the CLS, is based on the E-Class but traditionally delivers the luxury of an S-Class in a sportier, smaller package). There are many, many vehicles the S-Class needs to outclass to get your attention – so lets find it if it's successful in that mission.

It doesn't look all that new

At first glance you might wonder what the fuss is about, given how similar it looks to the old S-Class. But that’s not the point, as Mercedes customers are very loyal and know what they like - and they rarely want their large cars to make a statement or shock the public.

(If they do, there's always the G-Class).

Although it's conservative, it's contemporary, modern and very streamlined - just as you'd expect a Mercedes to be. A first for the S-Class, but in keeping with the desire to streamline, are flush doorhandles that pop out when you approach.

New headlights and a tweaked grille arrangement can be seen at the front, with a lower apron benefitting from a more aggressive look (in common with other UK-specification Mercedes-Benz models, the S-Class is only offered with AMG-Line styling here).

At the sides and rear the recent trend for bulges and surface-shaping has been reversed for a smooth, uncluttered look, with the tapered rear showing off lighting that’s similar in shape to the CLS.

What's it like inside?

This is, perhaps, the most welcoming S-Class interior yet, with an almost cosy wrap-around feel and lavish, soft surfaces everywhere. Technology still defines the S-Class' mission to blaze a trail others follow though, and there's a single, large display panel that slopes downward, with a central infotainment touchscreen dominating the overall view up front.

A new air filtration system is included, which can do things like pump perfume into the vents and automatically activate the recirculation setting when you go through a tunnel.

The 12.8-inch control screen is available with haptic feedback and OLED technology, and is easy to read from all angles and interact with as a conseqence. That clean interior design approach extends to the use of an augmented reality head-up display and 3D instruments that can be reduced to a minimal amount of information.

Several different designs can be had for the digital instruments, including a sporty one with red dials, to the classy Exclusive theme that displays white dials and backgrounds.

Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX 'Hey Mercedes' voice assistant has also had an upgrade, allowing for even more natural speech. If someone says they’re tired, one of the car's Energising Comfort programs can be activated, for example. When certain prompts arise, like an incoming call, the ‘Hey Mercedes’ activation phrase is not required – someone can simply say ‘Accept call’ – all in an attempt to simplify using the car's vast array of functions.

What's under the skin?

Currently, there are two diesels and one petrol to choose from, all of which use Mercedes-Benz’s latest straight-six engine range. The petrol also has 48v mild hybrid assistance that helps boost torque and all hit 155mph. It rides on air suspension that lowers itself automatically at speed while giving a soft ride for passengers.

Rear-wheel steering is also available in two versions, with one set-up allowing the rears to turn at up to 10 degrees. Mercedes claims that, four-wheel steering gives an S-Class has a similar turning circle to an A-Class hatch.

One advanced option is the E-Active Body Control system, which allows the new S-Class to tilt into corners like a Pendolino train. The technology also raises the ride height by 8cm when sensors detect a side impact is imminent, positioning the chassis to take the brunt of the crash via the door sills, rather than the doors themselves.

What models are available?

The diesel line-up comprises of an S 350 d (286hp) and the 330hp S 400 d 4Matic (meaning four-wheel drive), while the petrol is the S 500 4Matic, which boasts a power output of 435hp. More models will follow in the coming months.

There are six trim levels to choose from – AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, Long AMG Line Premium, Long AMG Line Premium Executive, Long AMG Line Premium Plus and Long AMG Line Premium Plus Executive.

Even the entry-level AMG Line model is well equipped, coming with 19-inch wheels, air suspension with self levelling, keyless-go with seamless door handles, Intelligent LED headlights, parking package with reversing camera and power closing doors and bootlid. Move up the range and start plundering the options list at the sky's your limit.

Click through the next few pages to read everything you need to know about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class including its practicality, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive – and whether we recommend buying one.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon rivals

Other Mercedes-Benz S-Class models: