We were very much hoping to give you chapter and verse here on Mercedes' headline technological breakthrough on the new S-Class: active Magic Body Control suspension. It’s a disappointment to report, then, that the camera-based system will only be offered on eight-cylinder petrol models, when the majority of S-Classes sold here will be diesels.
But that’s a disappointment that must be balanced against one key truth: that, even on its standard air springs and adaptive dampers, the S-Class could hardly ride better.
The car’s suspension has Comfort and Sport modes, but even in the latter, the handling never really approaches athleticism. At all times the S-Class feels like it’s distancing you from the road surface rather than inviting you to engage with it.
It steers directly and precisely enough and maintains good body control considering the cosseting dynamic compromise that Mercedes has struck here. But the car is one-dimensional to drive compared with a Jaguar XJ.
Something the size and weight of an S-Class could quickly become a big problem if it doesn’t handle predictably. And while this car has a plethora of active safety systems, the car’s fundamental manners are sound and consistent both up to and beyond the limit of grip.