Pros: elegant design, top-class interior, great chassis, efficient diesel engine
Cons: not quite quiet enough, more expensive than some rivals
The S-Class has long been a beacon for the Mercedes line-up, leading the way for the brand in terms of safety and luxury. Now there’s a new one, the seventh generation, and it has gone on sale in Ireland to take on the likes of the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series in the high-end saloon sector. There is a plug-in hybrid version in the pipeline, which may eventually take the lion’s share of sales, but for now, diesel still rules. Here we test the entry-level S 350 d model.
Mercedes S-Class Design
There’s nothing radical or innovative about the exterior design of the new S-Class, at least not at first glance. It’s an elegant four-door car that has gently evolved from its predecessor. Nonetheless, there’s lots going on when you look closer. Such as retracting door handles and high-tech LED headlights. Rear-wheel steering is optional, and quite obvious by the big angles it can turn to the back wheels to.
Though the standard S-Class has a longer wheelbase than before, there is still an option to upgrade to a long-wheelbase variant. That’s designed to be used by chauffeurs, naturally.
Mercedes S-Class Interior
The interior of the S-Class is one of its high points. There’s a sense of real luxury and quality pervading the whole cabin. It’s stylishly designed, too, with distinctive air vents front and rear, a wide panel of wood-like material on the dashboard and a tall centre console with lots of storage inside.
However, the standout feature is a sloping OLED touchscreen in the middle, which almost seamlessly interfaces with a piano black section of the centre console. The display looks fantastic even when it’s off, while its graphics are sharp and the interface is easy to use. Cleverly, the climate control functions are always visible at the base of the screen, for quick access, while there’s a physical button bar below that for other items.
In front of the driver is another high-res screen, displaying the digitally rendered instruments. However, we don’t love the touch-sensitive controls on the otherwise lovely steering wheel, and the same can be said for the electric adjustment of the seats.
In the back, there is, technically, room for three passengers, but it’s clearly designed to carry only two most of the time, due to a tall transmission tunnel. There are heated seats, zoned temperature control and extra USB ports there.
Mercedes S-Class Performance & Drive
Under the bonnet of the S 350 d is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine making 284hp and 600Nm of torque. This is the entry-level version, remember. That translates into serious performance by any measure, with 0-100km/h in just 6.4 seconds and effortless acceleration seemingly at any time without the car breaking a sweat. Indeed, you barely notice the excellent nine-speed automatic gearbox changing ratios it’s so smooth.
The engine isn’t ever completely silent, we should point out. The petrol versions are likely quieter. However, the road noise and wind roar at speed are kept in check so passengers ride around in a cocoon of relative quietness, even on the motorway.
There, the driver’s life is made easy by the advanced active cruise control and driver assistance systems, allowing them revel in the stability and refinement. We even managed to average a creditable 7.1 litres/100km, meaning the S 350 d should be able to go over 1,000km between fill-ups without too much effort.
Mercedes S-Class Pricing
The S 350 d, the cheapest version of the S-Class, starts at €123,875, while the S 400 d, using a more powerful version of the same diesel engine, is priced from €135,215. The latter comes with 4Matic four-wheel drive as standard, which is optional on the S 350 d. Meanwhile, the entry-level petrol model is €133,415. AMG Line is the only specification offered in Ireland and though the S-Class appears to be more expensive than some of its direct rivals, it is loaded with a very generous level of standard equipment.
Carzone Verdict: 4.5/5
Though some buyers might want a little more visual pizazz from their luxury saloon, few will find fault with the rest of the S-Class package. It has a fantastic cabin, cutting-edge technology, a brilliant chassis and it feels special, both from behind the wheel and in the back seats. Whether you need the long-distance economy of a diesel engine under the bonnet or not, it’s clear that the new S-Class is quite possibly the best car in its market segment today.