This is easily the best luxury car you can buy and now that it is being assembled here, it’s easier on the wallet too
The S-class’ whisper-quiet V6 motor is almost impossible to detect below a certain engine speed, vibration is all but non-existent when cruising, and the car blots out the world outside like no other. This state of disconnectedness is also seldom disturbed by the condition of the road outside. Under the hood is a new motor that uses a four-valve-per-cylinder head, as against the earlier model’s three. This, along with other new features, means power is up 11 percent. However, despite the car’s 272 bhp and 35kgm of torque, it still lacks the S500’s sheer waftabillity, where even a little toe on the accelerator sends the car darting forward effortlessly. And again, we love the extra seventh gear ratio, but this gearbox, like other Merc seven-speeders, sometimes seems to flounder, deciding between gears when you call for instant action.
However, what increased our rather amorous feelings for the S-class was the manner in which this car drove. It has no right to feel light, agile and attack corners this way. But at almost two tons, it still does. There are three modes you can drive this car in — Comfort, Sport and Manual — the last allows you to shift gears via buttons behind the steering wheel. Select ‘Sport’ and the car recognises you want to drive with more urgency, and it tweaks the Airmatic suspension and adaptive dampers, and even lowers the car’s ride height by 20mm after 120kph.
Pressing on in the massive S-class is not intimidating at all. In fact, the car tightens up its act and displays superb body control and poise around corners. It’s ever willing to turn into corners, grip is very strong and modulating the brakes on this new S-class have much more feel. Unfortunately, this version of the S can’t be ordered with Merc’s active suspension or ABC (Active Body Control). To be able to choose that option, you’ll need to order the imported S500. Of course, the S350 has stability control to come to your aid if you should get into a slide.
The S500 may offer better waftability and superior straight-line performance, but the S350, at 145bhp per ton, is no slouch either. It sprints to 100kph in 8.81 seconds and attains an electronically limited top speed of 250kph if you can find the right kind of road.
The ludicrous bit, for a car its weight and engine power, is it managed all of 6.1kpl in the city and 9.1kpl on the highway! We often explain that if a car is heavier, more fuel is consumed, but this is all about Mercedes-Benz bending the rules of physics.