Mercedes-Benz S-Class review - high tech showcase lacks thrills but is big on luxury

Hunter Skipworth
26 Jan 2016

Ride and refinement are excellent, just don't expect to take it to the track

Evo Rating: 
Refinement levels, Burmester sound system, technology and ride comfort
Uninspiring looks, options list is pricey

evo Verdict

For a long time the new Mercedes S-Class enjoyed a relative lack of competition in the high-tech luxury market, particularly given its price point. It boasted best-in-class interior technology, incredible levels of refinement and at £67,995, was actually decent value considering what it offered.

Now though it has a real contender in the form of the new BMW 7 Series. Matched like for like in terms of the technology offered, BMW represents a real threat to Mercedes' crown in this market.

Still, this is a car that offers levels of refinement on par with a Bentley Flying Spur and if you should so choose, be specced with a 6-litre bi-turbo V12. As a luxury car it undercuts the competition in base trim by nearly £100,000, yet comes close in terms of comfort and quality.

It's not without fault however. At times the technological overload has led to some strange design decisions. Why for example do you need two screens and a HUD. The interior can be overly fussy at times and definitely isn't to everyone's tastes, the treble-clef speaker grilles specced on certain models for example. This is where the 7 Series comes in, which offers a more simple and clean alternative.

The new S-Class is an interesting proposition. It offers refinement levels on par with a Bentley Flying Spur, bests just about every other car on the market for technology and can be specced with a 6-litre biturbo V12.

The AMG models aren't cheap, but make sublime cruisers, as discovered in Jethro Bovingdon's recent evo Leaderboard video on the S65 Coupe. The journey to Anglesey Circuit was even more impressive than the laps it recorded once on track.

Ultimately, Mercedes has a very, very good car on its hands with the new S-Class. Praise has to be given to the sheer amount of technology and kit each model comes loaded with. Ride and refinement are also absolutely fantastic.

The S-Class is the car you want for eating up motorway miles not for a blast down a B-road, but that was all it was ever intended to be. As a device to transport yourself from A to B in the best possible comfort, there are few better (or better value) alternatives.

Video review

evo Tip

The £6,430 Burmester 'high-end' sound system is among the absolute best available in a road car. With it fitted, listening to music in the S-Class becomes an event in itself. That said, sticking to the £1,130 standard Burmester system doesn't disappoint either, as it too is sublime. Either way, no S-Class is complete as a cruiser without the speaker setup installed.

Performance and 0-60 time > The S-Class has a wide range of performance on offer, from the frugal S300 to the absolutely rapid S65 AMG. 735 lb ft of torque from the S65's twin-turbo V12 helps the car dispatch 0-60 in just 4.3 seconds. Read all about the S-Class performance here

Engine and gearbox > Range and efficiency as well as outright performance are covered off nicely in the S-Class model range. The gearbox is a 7-speed unit that helps boost the extreme levels of refinement found here. Read all about the S-Class engine and gearbox here

Ride and Handling > You'd expect the Mercedes to be top of the class here and for the most part it is. Air suspension coupled with clever camera-based road reading tech makes for extreme levels of comfort. It isn't however the last word in driver engagement. Read about the S-Class ride and handling here

MPG and Running Costs > At its best, the S-Class will deliver an impressive 60mpg, from the blueTech Hybrid. Any AMG models will manage a third of that at best. Running costs are in line with the rest of the Mercedes range, but significantly lower than much higher priced luxury offerings from the likes of Bentley or Rolls Royce. Read all about how much it costs to run an S-Class here.

Prices, Specs and Rivals > Given the technology and refinement on offer, an entry level S-Class is actually fairly good value for money. Costs rapidly mount up when looking at the S63 or S65 AMG variants, the latter of which is upwards of £150k. Read all about S-Class costs here

Interior and Tech > A gamut of LCD displays, high end audio tech and clever cruise control systems make the S-Class the absolute pinnacle of auto tech available right now. The interior is definitely a nice place to be, but can't touch more bespoke offerings from ultra-high end manufacturers. Read about the S-Class tech here

Design > Not the last word in exciting looks, but definitely functional particularly inside. Driving position is good and the immense size of the S-Class is dealt with nicely via an array of complex camera systems. Read about the S-Class design here

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