Mercedes S-Class 350 – Review
By Liam Bird
Notice of a parent’s milestone birthday has my brother and me in organisational overdrive. He flings open his big book of contacts and gets busy ringing Kensington hotels and booking The Ivy for dinner. Me, as the motoring writer of the family, has to attend to our transport needs. What we needs is a large, luxurious if possible (the bar is set high after-all) high-speed cruiser that is capable of carrying five of us toward the capital in the kind of surroundings, given the funds, we’d all like to become accustomed to. Something quiet, elegant, serene even. What we need is something that does not cost a banker’s bonus to fuel and yet looks the business upon arrival. What we need is a diesel Mercedes S-Class 350.
Mercedes Benz’s S-class has been voted the world’s best luxury car seven years on the trot. Capable of seating five in absolute comfort and also returning 45 mpg, the S-Class seems like the perfect car. Luckily I’ve a few contacts too, so with a few well placed emails and a couple of phone calls I soon have one secured.
“Would you like me to show you how anything works before I go?” asks the delivery driver. “No. I’ll be fine,” I reply nonchalantly. “I’ve driven Mercs before. I’ll work it out.” It is only when I shut the door and begin to move the infinitely adjustable air-cushioned seat that I realise quite how special an S-Class really is.
The use of high class materials and the overall build quality easily rivals anything this side of a Bentley. The interior may lack some of a bespoke car’s hand stitched detailing, but the quality and finish – to my eye at least – is equally as good. Everything you touch feels like it’s been built to last forever. The interior is full of tech too.
My test car is heavily specced, pushing its total cost up to a whopping £107,000. But that kind of outlay not only ensures each rear seat passenger gets more leg room than they’ll ever need, but that they also get their own massaging seat and a Bang and Olufsen entertainment system complete with individual monitors and cordless headphones as well.
Up-front a split screen facility means the driver can view the sat-nav while the front seat passenger watches the latest blockbuster. There’s even an infra-red night vision camera with dashboard display for those particularly dark nights.
Pressing the starter reveals just how quiet Merecedes’ 3.5 litre diesel V6 really is. Push the column mounted selector down to select Drive and the first of seven gears in the seamless automatic gearbox slips in to place. Initially the S-Class feels huge. The three-pointed star at the end of the bonnet feels a very long way away. But thanks to a raft of parking sensors, a reversing camera and speed sensitive steering it’s relatively easy to manoeuvre Mercedes’ flagship around.
Once out in the open the S-Class seems to shrink. The air suspension means, despite its size, this hefty saloon glides along with both impressive grace and pace. Only the very worst of road surfaces upset the ride and even with winter tyres fitted road noise is negligible.
But before you go thinking that I waft up to London in air-conditioned, double glazed luxury with a smug grin on my face and we all live happily ever after, there’s something I forgot to mention. Some S-Class’s – including “mine” – are strictly four seaters. There were five us remember? Sometimes even perfect isn’t quite perfect enough.
Mercedes Benz S-Class 350 Bluetech L 4dr
Engine: 2987cc. 6 Cyl 24V Diesel
Transmission: 7 speed G-tronic Automatic
Power: 255 bhp @ 3600rpm
Torque: 457 lbft @ 1600 – 2400rpm
0-62mph: 7.1 sec
Max Speed: 155mph
Mpg: 45.6 (combined)
Price: from £64,605 (car shown £107,500)