Not the most powerful S-class, but the most frugal. Delete the badges and no one will know

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 S 250 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 S 350 CDI.

The relatively small engine does a commendable job of hauling the S 250 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 S 250’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 S 250 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-Benz S 250 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

Join the debate

Add a comment…
sportwagon 29 May 2011

Re: Mercedes S250 CDI

On paper this looks pretty impressive. On the other hand if Mercedes model numbers bore any relationship to the engine size then I may be more or perhaps even less impressed with how far a leap forward this is.

timmmmy 28 May 2011

Re: Mercedes S250 CDI

My greates worry about this car is the longevity of it's engine, it is only a 4 cylinder with turbos running at high pressure to give the impressive performance/torque figures. I would be concerned about buying one secondhand with around 90-100k on them. However I would have no problem buying a 320 CDI with 90-100k on it due to the relaxed nature of the engine...

Leslie Brook 25 May 2011

Re: Mercedes S250 CDI

fhp11 wrote:
If you have the money for the car, you have the money for the fuel.

You can be wealthy and still wish to be a bit greener.