The rest of the dynamic package is typically excellent. The ride quality is superb, it corners flatly and handles with confidence-inspiring stability rather than any great level of driver involvement.
The ride could probably be made even better still if Mercedes' Magic Body Control (an incredible piece of engineering that can make speed bumps feel like they aren't even there) were to be offered, but it's only available on V8-equipped S-classes. Shame, but S-classes without it hardly feel like a poor relation.
The interior comfort is beyond reproach, the overall functionality and design less so. The twin front screens are a bit ugly, and the optional pair you can have in the back can only be operated by a fiddly remote or a smartphone app when you'd think they'd be touchscreen as standard in this iPad era. It can also be quite hard to find the button or menu for the command you actually want (skipping tracks on an album for instance).
Still, if all this winds you up you can always slip into the back seat, recline almost flat and have a hot stone-effect massage.
Should I buy one?
If you are a luxury car customer who wants the most comfortable and refined car out there then the S-class is for you. A Range Rover has a much greater sense of occasion, a Jaguar XJ is much more involving to drive, but just as those two cars nail their briefs for those traits the S-class nails its own for its grown-up manners and role as a businessman's express.
But there is the slight nagging doubt that it hasn't moved the game on as much as the new Range Rover did when it arrived. It feels like more of the same, and in parts, particularly the interior, it is a bit derivative.
Maybe we're nitpicking, as this is the one car you'd pick out of any class for a 1000-mile drive, or indeed passenger ride. It's just when the aspiration is to be "the best car in the world", you expect that extra five per cent, be it in a revolutionary new engine, gearbox or particularly an interior more in tune with the Apple generation, that will allow it to top any class in addition to its own.
Mercedes S 350 BlueTEC L SE Line
Price £65,650; 0-62mph 6.8sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 50.4mpg; CO2 148g/km; Kerb weight 1975kg; Engine V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power 254bhp at 3600rpm; Torque 457lb ft at 1600-2400rpm; Gearbox 7spd automatic