FIRST CHOICE LOUNGE

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class

This is the luxury sedan that all others measure up to. This seventh-generation Mercedes S-Class is now even smarter to use, but its real strengths lie in comfort and refinement. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten second review

Here you are looking at one of the most advanced cars Mercedes-Benz has ever built. An S-Class is no longer just synonymous with comfort, refinement and performance. This MK7 model also favors electrification, digitalization and connectivity. There’s never been a luxury boardroom-level lounge like this.

Background

The Mercedes S-Class. It’s traditionally the sensible answer to the question every car expert likes to dodge – “what’s the best car in the world?”. Other vehicles may be more opulent, faster or easier to drive, but over the years no other model has consistently offered such an advanced blend of automotive virtues. Here we are looking at the seventh generation “W223” series model.

No previous S-Class has ever been as complex, advanced or sophisticated as this one. Delivering this design – and its all-electric sibling, the EQS – required a higher level of investment than any Mercedes ever attached to a new model. Not just because of the new EV technology, but also because there’s a completely different engineering and technical philosophy at play here. A bigger step than any made with this model range since the S-Class, or ‘Sonderklasse’, the badge was first introduced in the original ‘W116’ series model in 1972. Let’s take a look of eye.

Driving experience

On the move, exemplary ride quality remains this model’s main calling card, even better this time thanks to the way the AIRMATIC air springs interact with the heavily redesigned ‘MRA’ platform ‘Modular Rear Architecture’. The super-slippery 0.22Cd drag factor ensures that highway refinement is also top-notch: this is where you can utilize the segment’s best-developed Level 2 autonomous driving technology – the Active system. Mercedes’ DISTRONIC Distance Assist, which works with ‘Active Steering Assist’ to essentially take care of steering, accelerating and braking tasks for you at cruising speeds.

For now though, you might be happy to drive it yourself, even around town, where this Mercedes cuts through urban traffic jams on a plane unlike the motoring masses. Under the hood, all S-Class variants for our market feature 3.0-litre straight-six power, with options starting with the 286bhp S350d diesel-powered variant we tested. The same engine comes with 330hp mated to 4MATIC AWD in the S400d. Or there’s a 435bhp petrol powertrain in the S500 4MATIC, which benefits from the brand’s current ‘EQ Boost’ mild-hybrid technology. This AMG-derived petrol unit also forms the basis of the alternative plug-in model, the S580e, which uses it in 367hp form, pairs it with a 150hp electric motor and offers an impressive all-electric driving range. of 63 miles. The best Mercedes-Maybach variants get either a 4.0-liter V8 with 503 hp or, for the richest, a 6.0-liter V12 with 612 hp.

Design and build

The design of this seventh-generation model, while clearly heavily evolved, remains intentionally conservative – the all-electric EQS ​​version of this model makes more of a style statement. Customers will like what’s on offer here – a bolder grille flanked by more angular LED headlights that can now be fitted with the brand’s latest ‘Digital Light’ technology. Every model sold here will receive the “AMG Line” styling pack. And slimmer taillights replicate a look we’ve seen before with the large CLS 4-door executive coupe.

Evolution may reign outside, but it’s revolution inside, completely redesigned for a new era. Contrary to expectations, it’s completely different to what you’ll find in an E-Class or large Mercedes SUV, the central dashboard dominated by a large, portrait-oriented 12.8-inch OLED central touchscreen. Through the new dual-spoke capacitive wheel you view another digital monitor, a 12.3-inch instrument binnacle screen that most variants provide with an innovative 3D display feature. The brand’s MBUX multimedia system gets 50 percent more processing power here – and more intuitive voice and gesture control systems. And there’s a huge heads-up display. The dashboard style is dominated by a large wood panel extending into the doors and is topped with four rectangular vents.

Market and model

A premium outlay has never stopped top drivers from considering an S-Class – or, more likely, another S-Class: around 80 per cent of European customers who have already owned return to buy another Mercedes afterwards.

There are only two engine choices with the two entry-level specs, both conventional 3.0-litre six-cylinders; either the rear-drive S350d diesel we tried, with 286bhp, or, for around £10,000 more, the considerably gutsier S500 4MATIC petrol version, which has 435bhp and AWD to get it to the tarmac.

If you want a wider choice of engines and even higher spec, a range of S-Class long-wheelbase model options are in the £93,000-£115,000 range, with ‘AMG Line Premium Executive’ , ‘AMG Line Premium Plus’ and best trim levels ‘AMG Line Premium Plus Executive’ at your disposal. The S580e PHEV petrol model was priced around £105,000 at launch, around £13,500 more than the base diesel. Saving the planet doesn’t come cheap.

Cost of ownership

Let’s move on to the WLTP numbers. The S350d variant that most customers will choose manages up to 42.8 mpg on the combined cycle and 173 g/km of CO2. The S400d 4MATIC alternative delivers up to 38.7 mpg in the combined cycle and 192 g/km of CO2. If you opt for the petrol-powered S500 4MATIC, you’d expect those numbers to drop a bit, but Mercedes has compensated here with its ‘EQ Boost’ mild-hybrid technology which includes an integrated starter generator powered by a 48V system. on-board electrics that enable some hybrid functions, ultimately improving overall efficiency. As a result, the S500 4MATIC delivers up to 32.1 mpg in standard form and emits 187 g/km of CO2.

To do better, you’ll need to ask your dealer about the plug-in hybrid version. Charging from empty should only take about 20 minutes with a fast charger. And the S580e’s combined WLTP fuel economy is 353.1 mpg.

Summary

This S-Class is the spearhead of technological development, not just for Mercedes-Benz but for the automotive industry as a whole – and has been for decades. That’s so important and that’s why it’s – and will continue to be – the world’s best-selling full-size luxury sedan. The best car in the world? You’ll feel like it is if you buy one.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

PRICE: £80,450 to £206,775

CATEGORY: LUXURY SALON AND ESTATE

INSURANCE GROUP: 47E – 50E

CO2 EMISSIONS: 173-192 g/km {S350d, S400d and S400} {WLTP}

PERFORMANCE: {S350d} 0-62mph 6.4s / top speed 155mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: {S350d}](combined) 42.8 mpg {WLTP}

BOOT CAPACITY: {litres} 540-550

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE? : length/width/height 5179/1954/1503 mm

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