What is it?
Just a few years ago, the notion of placing a four-cylinder engine in a car like the S-class seemed… well, implausible. But with fuel prices having shot up quite dramatically in the meantime and an increasing number of countries looking towards road tax laws tied to CO2 emissions like those in force here in the UK, that’s exactly what Mercedes-Benz has been prompted to do. The result? The most economical S-class ever placed into production: the S250 CDI.
What’s it like?
The new Benz gets all the latest fuel-saving technology, including stop-start, and its turbocharged 2.1-litre diesel engine manages 201bhp and a sturdy 368lb ft of torque; it gives away 53bhp and 89lb ft to the 3.0-litre V6 diesel-powered S350 CDI.
The relatively small engine does a commendable job of hauling the S250 CDI’s considerable 1895kg. Granted, it’s quite leisurely off the line, making it somewhat frustrating around town. But with clever gearing taking full advantage of its strong low end torque, it delivers convincing in-gear performance once you’re wound on some speed on the open road.
Besides an uncharacteristic four-cylinder thrum under hard acceleration, the new engine is also very quiet for a diesel on a constant throttle, providing the sort of relaxed cruising the S-class is renowned for.
The best part, though, is the S250’s economy; theoretically it’s capable of travelling up to 900 miles between refills on its 83-litre tank. On an autobahn run we managed 55mpg over 200 miles, proving that it does live up to its maker’s claim.
Should I buy one?
At the moment there is no plan to bring the S250 CDI to the UK. That’s a pity, because it manages impressive cruising attributes. And with economy to match many small hatchbacks, its running costs can’t be matched by the luxury car competition.
Mercedes S250 CDI
Price: na; Top speed: 149mph; 0-60mph: 8.2sec; Economy: 49.6mpg (combined); CO2: 149g/km; Kerb weight: 1895kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 2143cc, turbodiesel; Power: 201bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 368lb ft at 1600rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd automatic