Before we get too carried away with how cheap some S-Class cars look (their prices start at around £15,000), consider that at launch in 2014, the very cheapest, the 350 CDI SE Line, cost £62,000 while the most expensive, the S63 AMG, was twice as much. Basically, behind its enticing price, your bargain S-Class still has the appetite of a much more expensive car.
That important caveat out of the way, we can get on with enjoying this most remarkable of vehicles, one that, now in its sixth generation, still sets the bar for luxury cars.
It was developed in long-wheelbase form first, a decision that speaks volumes about its intended market and high standards because it meant no compromises were made in its torsional rigidity, the secret to a good ride. A short-wheelbase version followed but it’s the long one that you want and that’s more plentiful on the used market.
Equally as plentiful are S350 CDI diesel versions because, let’s face it, the S-Class is an upmarket cab and a mid-power oil-burner is cheaper to run while providing the kind of waftability that executives believe is their due. A more powerful S400d arrived to partner it in 2018, but we’d plump for the 350 every time.
Meanwhile, if you like the idea of tearing up £50 notes under a shower of premium unleaded, there are the petrol-powered S500 and S600 models whose generous power outputs we needn’t worry about but which show up the S-Class’s remarkable agility. On that point, the V8 S63 and V12 S65 will leave you speechless.
New buyers seeking to reduce their tax burden were directed towards hybrid versions. Unfortunately, for private used car buyers, they only mean lower road tax, although plug-in versions such as the S500 do offer the possibility of up to 20 miles of electric-only running. Just don’t expect anything like the claimed economy figures.
At the start of the model’s life, you could choose from SE, SE Line and AMG Line trims, but given the model’s aspirations, top-spec AMG Line was the most popular. Features include 19in alloy wheels and a subtle bodykit, but all have a large TFT display, LED headlights and an array of driver assist features.
The model was facelifted in 2018 when, among other things, it received redesigned front and rear ends, more autonomous kit and two 12.3in displays. There were changes to the engines, too, while AMG Line, in Executive and Premium flavours, became the sole trim.
An all-new S-Class arrives next year. It won’t affect the prices of older models but, if you’re in the market for a nearly new one, do bear the new model in mind because, to make way for it, Mercedes is likely to sweeten the deals on the last of the current-shape cars. This will hurt the values of late-plate motors, making your nearly-new S-Class no longer the bargain it seemed.