The best luxury saloon in the world just got bester
This is the sixth generation of S-Class, and this is a midlife facelift. That might indicate that not much has changed, but actually a great deal has changed. Over 6000 components for a start, making this a serious upgrade with some fabulous improvements. Let’s leap in to this £75,000 icon of luxury.
One of the big changes is to the engine line-up. Gone is the old V8 petrol in the S500 and gone too is the V6 diesel in the S350. Instead they’ve been replaced by a straight-six 2.9-litre engine in either petrol (429bhp) or diesel (282bhp) form, with us testing the latter.
The petrol version claims an improvement in fuel consumption from 31.7mpg up to 40.9mpg, which is well worth having. The diesel also improves consumption figures, from 50.4mpg up to 52.3mpg, which isn’t a lot but it’s a great deal when you realise they’ve also knocked not far off a second in the 0-62mph rush.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class S350d L AMG Line Premium Plus
Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Gearbox: Nine-speed auto
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 52.3mpg
CO2 rating/BIK: 139g/km, 29%
This is a big, heavy car and it can hit 62mph from rest in six seconds. Phenomenal. Part of that effortless surge is down not to the horsepower, but the huge wave of torque, with 442lb/ft thrusting the car forward without any of that vulgar revving business.
Delivery is near silent and is about as sophisticated as a straight-six diesel engine ever could be. That effortless sense of wafting through the world is carried through by the ride, which is the best in class, just like it has been for years. It absorbs everything and leaves you unruffled and relaxed as the miles pass.
Yet, and this is a clever thing, this huge S-Class is still enjoyable to drive. It’s not just a chauffeur’s car, unless Mercedes has really started caring about the chauffeur’s enjoyment behind the wheel, since it can be pushed into corners quite sharply without any sign of disagreement.
But of course you may not want to do such a thing. You may want to sit back and think of the shareholders. In which case you’ll appreciate the next generation of autonomous driving. The car can take control in many more situations than before, and all you have to do is keep a light touch on the wheel. Radar and navigation data work together to slow for corners or roundabouts or whatever.
If the parking space is too tight you can get out and the car will park itself via an app. Much to the delight of the driver of the old Fiesta next door when he returns and tries to get into his car.
Naturally the drawing room inside features many completely new elements, like the dashboard. Two 12.3-inch high-def TFT screens show you more information than you can possibly mentally process. And if you fancy a new look to your instruments then you can change their appearance, in the same way you can illuminate the interior with one of 64 colours. But that’s not all.
Would you like Energising Comfort Control? Of course you would, so you’ll tick that option box. That combines climate control, seat heating, fragrance dispenser, cooling, massage, wall heating, music and interior lights. Yes, this is for the interior of a car.
You can preset to either your mood or, more likely, the one you’d prefer to be in. Are you feeling like Freshness, Warmth, Vitality or Comfort today? And is the occasion special enough for Joy? There is one called Training, but honestly we didn’t dare press that preset.
As you may have gathered, you can spend a serious amount of time exploring all the delights of this cabin, but you’ll want to spend the time in there because it’s one of the nicest places to be, far nicer than many houses I’ve lived in, that’s for sure. The best luxury saloon, better even than the superb new BMW 7-Series? Yes. Yes it is. It still is. I am feeling Joy.