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 is amazingly agile on the road

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon (20 on) - rated 4.5 out of 5
Enlarge 40 photos

At a glance

New price £83,440 - £211,460
Used price £56,570 - £166,860
Fuel Economy 19.8 - 353.1 mpg
Road tax cost £510 - £520
Insurance group 50 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Excels at comfort and luxury
  • Incredible handling precision
  • Plug-in goes 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

Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class any good?

You bet! Without fail, each new generation of Mercedes-Benz S-Class is tasked with setting new standards of excellence. And in the case of this one, which was all-new when rolled out in 2020, its maker has pulled out all the stops with a car that’s designed to be smoother and more serene than ever before.

But even if you’re not in the market for a high-priced luxury vehicle, you really should take notice of the S-Class. Much of the technology that debuts here will undoubtedly filter down into more affordable cars over the next few years.

The S-Class needs to be exceptional, as it faces a diverse and incredibly capable set of 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) and Porsche Panamera. There are many, many vehicles the S-Class needs to outclass to get your attention – and, apologies for the spoiler, but we think it manages it.

Read the Mercedes-Benz S-Class verdict

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.

It comes with a 12.8-inch control screen 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.

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 – which massage the seat, play uplifting music and release calming odours into the cabin – can be activated, for example.

Read more about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior

What’s it like to drive?

Currently, there are two diesels and one petrol to choose from, all of which use Mercedes-Benz’s latest six-cylinder engine range. The S 500 petrol also has 48v mild hybrid assistance that helps boost torque and all models hit 155mph.

Unsurprisingly, S-Class majors on comfort – 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.

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.

Read more about how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class drives

What models and trims are available?

The diesel line-up comprises of an 285hp S 350 d 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 and the sky’s your limit.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon rivals

Other Mercedes-Benz S-Class models: