What is the number one luxury car? The most common answer would probably be the S-Class Mercedes, the kind of ride used by heads of state, sheiks and dictators all over the world. The Mercedes S-Class is clearly the flagship in it’s class and a milestone when compared with other brands of luxury cars (such as the BMW 7 Series , Audi A8).
We had a possibility to test drive the delivery of the new W222 -series Mercedes- Benz S500 L, and we gladly grabbed the opportunity. The S500 is a 450 horsepower luxury business missile, which has adequate power for any situation. We compared the new S-Class to the previous generation W221 S500 series model (model year 2008), which had a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 good for 388 horsepower. The older model was equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, while our brand new test car was rear wheel driven.
Engine and Drivability
Our test car was rear wheel drive and in the Finnish winter this is not a good thing. Despite having 450 hp and promising a 0-100 km/h of 4.8 s, we only managed to get a time of 6.2 seconds, which was frustrating and disappointing at the same time. The wet road surface combined with studded tires, rear wheel drive and a massive 700 Nm of torque caused the traction control system to work overtime. Only occasionally on dry spots we got a glimpse of the car’s performance potential. Unfortunately the rear-wheel drive is not suitable for the Finnish winter and therefore we highly recommend 4MATIC all-wheel drive for all high performance models. Although this model had a large V8 under the hood, only a subdued murmur entered the cabin.
The car is intended for peaceful cruising, especially on long trips, so the steering is quite light and forgiving and it can’t be described as very sporty or accurate. Compared to the previous generation W221 with the AMG-pack, the control was more numb. The suspension is soft and luxurious, it filters out the poor Finnish roads efficiently and the ride comfort is better than before, even without the new Magic Body Control air suspension, which was not available for test drive.
The 7-speed transmission worked smoothly, but it is no longer the most modern and economical type on the market and the new 8- speed automatic and 7-speed dual clutch transmissions are better. Mercedes has, however, recently introduced a new 9-speed gearbox 9G, which is updated for the S-Series during 2014, probably from model year 2015 onwards. That will be a gamechanger.
Safety Equipment and Features
The S-series is best known for it’s technical innovations and unmatched luxury. It has been for decades the technical showcase model in which all the advances in technology are presented first, after which the equipment will gradually become available to more common and affordable cars. Examples of innovations found first in the S-Series are numerous. Among them ESP stability control, ABS brakes, night vision assistant, adaptive cruise control etc. In the latest W222 model all indoor and outdoor lights are LED lights and there is a glamorous lounge -like lighting and atmosphere inside. Interior light color can be adjusted to one’s mood. The one thing we were disappointed in, was that in the times of 3D bluray the entertainment system was still DVD-based.
New technological innovations include Magic Body Control air suspension and seat belts airbags . Technological advantages of the Magic Body Control -chassis are presented in the video below:
Magic Body Control is able to predict uneven road surfaces through the stereo camera due to bumps in the road and adjust the suspension accordingly. Rear seat belt airbags, in turn, will increase the surface area of the seat belt, minimizing the load on the chest of passengers in a collision.
The new S-series also features air ionization ( Air Balance), which lets you create a pleasant fragrance environment from four different scent options. Also the Burmester audio system is a new option, and the 1.450 euro (tax-free) extra price is justified for those who enjoy high-quality sound.
All in all, even a standard S-Class is luxurious and full of tech toys, but only by ticking optional extras, the car becomes the milestone, based on which the S-Class has received its reputation. The car we test drove had over 46,000 euros (tax-free) of accessories, so the technology doesn’t come cheap. Our personal favorites include the Night View Assist, keyless go, dynamic handling control seats, as well as thermal comfort package. Thermal comfort package heats also the armrest and door side panels in addition to front seats, which will bring added comfort in our cold climate conditions.
Interior and Comfort
Comfort is the main advantage of the S-Class. There is nothing that comes even close to the S-Class level. Our test car was the extended Lang model with ample rear space. The tested car featured also the rear seat comfort package, which allows the rear seats to be electrically adjusted and fitted with massage, heating, ventilation functions etc. The interior as a whole is first-class and modern. The suspension is more comfortable than ever, the difference between the previous generation is clear.
It is hard to find anything to criticize in the new S-class. A slightly disconnected steering feel could be mentioned, but then again, it belongs to the nature of the car, since this is no track car in spite of the 450 -horsepower output. The steering wheel design is not our favorite and the new COMAND could be be more intuitive, but these are a matter of taste. What is clear is that the new S-Class is a new milestone to which other brands of luxury models will again be compared.
As tested the S500 model was nearly 250,000 euros, of which the car tax accounts for an unbelievable EUR 90,000 almost doubling the price of the car. This is not, however, the car’s fault. Finland’s unreasonable and absurd car tax is to be blamed.
Acceleration from 0-100 km / h (2 passengers, full tank and studded tires) : 6.2s
Test consumption: 12.6 l/100 km
Technical data (indicated by the manufacturer):
Engine: 4663 cm3 V8
Power: 335 kW / 450 hp @ 5250 to 5500 RPM
Torque: 700 Nm @ 1800-3500 RPM
Acceleration from 0-100 km / h: 4.8 s
CO2 emissions : 199 g / km
Consumption: 12.1 l/100 km (city) , 6.4 l/100 km (highway) , 8.6 l/100 km (combined)