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Uprated diesel engine and more toys for S-class

Our Verdict

The S-class is a benchmark in comfort and equipment. XJ is better to drive though

The Mercedes S-Class is a fine luxury car and a technological masterstroke. It is calm but rewarding

What is it?

This is the facelifted Mercedes S-class, which the German company describes as the “original reference point in the luxury class”. Judging by the performance of the S 350 CDI tested here, we wouldn’t disagree.

The six-cylinder turbodiesel that powered the popular S 320 CDI has been uprated and now puts out 199g/km of CO2 and achieves 37mpg combined, an improvement of 21g/km and 3mpg.

Aerodynamic improvements, low-resistance tyres and modifications to the seven-speed auto ’box account for the environmental improvements.

What’s it like?

As effortless and cosseting as ever. New speed-sensitive variable-ratio steering and a torque-vectoring brake system make turn-in sharper, and though the weight and size of the S-class are always noticeable, it’s easy to feed accurately down a winding road or through traffic.

Ride quality is exemplary, and still a class benchmark. Even the most severely broken road surface is smoothed into submission by the Airmatic air suspension.

Blog: Why isn't my living room more like an S-class?

The S 350 CDI engine is equally effective. It’s well matched to the seven-speed ’box, and most users won’t ever find the need to change out of D thanks to the spread of torque, though using the paddle shifts is a satisfying experience on the right road.

Still, the 3.0-litre engine does grumble intrusively under heavy acceleration and it can feel strained in the higher echelons of the rev range, so it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the cruising ability.

The driver need do very little to achieve that, because there are now even more electronic marvels to keep the S-class at the forefront of the technology revolution.

Lane Assist vibrates the steering wheel if you go over a white line without signalling, adaptive high-beam headlights automatically sense oncoming traffic and dip themselves, active body control compensates for crosswinds, the Distronic cruise control has been improved, and to stop you falling asleep, Attention Assist monitors 70 different parameters to sense and warn when the driver needs to take a break.

Should I buy one?

Do you need to ask? Even if the thoroughly impressive (and mostly optional) gadgets that make the S-class a winning luxury saloon don’t sell it to you, rest assured that even in standard form the Mercedes is still the one to beat.

Vicky Parrott

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Comments
19

3 June 2009

Another successful facelift by Mercedes. I think the S-Class really does look good now. While the addition of even more technology may seem great while the car is new, I am really starting to wonder what a nightmare they could become once the car hits its 5th or 6th anniversary/birthday. And a big part of that potential nightmare would be repair costs, I would guess. Then again, maybe I just haven't quite changed with the times.

3 June 2009

Pah, not impressed!

This thing will be thoroughly outhandled, outriden, outsteered, outperformed, outluxuried, outrefined, outqualitied and outeverything elsed by the new XJ, won't it, Autocar? :D

3 June 2009

Of course it will - I'd bet the Jaguar will get most of the Mercs options as standard equipment, including the fancy screen, and if it gets the same diesel engines and is lighter than the XF it will beat the Merc comprehensively in the handling, performance and fuel economy, departments as well as price.

Lets face it the fight here is between Merc and Jaguar in the UK, the 7 series and A8 dont come close in sales figures. Merc launches a new S and outsells Jaguar for a few years, then Jaguar launches a new XJ and outsells the Merc. t'was ever so.

3 June 2009

[quote Overdrive]

This thing will be thoroughly outhandled, outriden, outsteered, outperformed, outluxuried, outrefined, outqualitied and outeverything elsed by the new XJ, won't it, Autocar? :D

[/quote]

Sometimes how i feel but not always. There is definately room for a bit of patriotism and the xf is a great car (having driven most varients). However, some of the negatives are not covered fully for me including slightly compromised packaging in my view and slightly sub standard fit and finish (contraversial i know). Not sure I like the flashy vents and gear selector either. However, it probably is the class leader especially when like me you appreciate cosseting ride quality that adds to the driving experience as opposed to taking away from it. Something BMW need to learn.

3 June 2009

So, the S-Class is still the best car in its class (and possibly the world). Nowt unusual there with the S-Class, but strange for Autocar to say the Merc is the one to beat! We often hear that with some BMWs, and how they're better than some Mercs, but rarely does Autocar say anything when the boot's on the foot. If the reviews in this mag are anything to go by, Merc has as many cars that are better Munich's finest as it is the other way around.

But's it all academic as regardless of whether the forthcoming all-new XJ really is any good or not, it'll trump everything including the brilliant S-Class!

3 June 2009

Amazing car...

3 June 2009

"Lane Assist vibrates the steering wheel if you go over a white line without signalling, adaptive high-beam headlights automatically sense oncoming traffic and dip themselves, active body control compensates for crosswinds, the Distronic cruise control has been improved, and to stop you falling asleep, Attention Assist monitors 70 different parameters to sense and warn when the driver needs to take a break."

Taxi!

Back to FWD Sad

3 June 2009

I've seen the new 7 series and the S still makes it look like the 2nd class citizen of the luxury car world.

3 June 2009

If Mercedes can get the S class so right why can't they pull the same trick with the E class which doesn't seem quite so complete.

4 June 2009

the work with the back turns out splendid, the lights especially

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