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black mercedes s-class

Mercedes S-Class review

The Mercedes S-Class is an incredibly complete car. It's luxurious and contains an array of top-of-the-range gadgets. To back up the pristine cabin, it's beautifully engineered and designed making it a pleasure to drive.


Whether you opt for the two-door coupe or convertible versions, or the four-door saloon, in normal or long wheelbase, all Mercedes S-Class cars have the look of a very special vehicle, with conservative but imperious lines.  

The designs are understated, having evolved almost imperceptibly over the generations. The ultimate high-end brand doesn’t do vulgar – so the long-standing range has barely changed its image since its launch in 1972.  

It’s the technology under the rather anonymous skin that’s constantly updated to the automotive state-of-the-art instead. Buyers have a choice of scores of paint colours but, for many owners, the most important design feature is the three-pointed star on the front grille. 

black mercedes s-class

What's it like to drive?

Many S-Class owners sit in the back and are driven. Nevertheless, the big Mercedes offers refined driving pleasure. The sharp, responsive steering and agile suspension defy the size and weight of the car. All models feature a driving mode selector that allows you to adjust suspension settings to suit your mood. 

All S-Classes are fast. The highest-powered models are in supercar territory. Engines range from silky smooth diesels to lively, punchy petrols. The V12 version has enough power for a racing car.  

Hybrid and full-electric models combine high performance with a more sustainable style of motoring. Even at the very rapid rates of progress possible, the S-Class always remains composed, vibration-free and almost silent. Expect increasing access to autonomous systems in more recent versions. 

black mercedes s-class

All S-Classes are fast. The highest-powered models are in supercar territory.


It’s the flagship range of one of the world’s most prestigious car makers – so it’s no surprise that the Mercedes S-Class features one of the most opulent interiors. It uses a flawless range of materials, is faultlessly built, and is lavishly equipped. Every surface is covered with a material that feels reassuring to touch, and it’s fitted so tightly that it seems it will last forever. 

The front of the cockpit design is very reassuring, with a comforting ambience. Drivers face a wrap-around dashboard shape and a small, flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel. The standard of workmanship is revealed in details like fine poplar inserts in the dashboard. 

mercedes s-class interior

The dashboard is dominated by a big 12-inch central touchscreen for infotainment, and another screen in front of the driver for the vehicle information, shown in adjustable 3D displays that can come in various colour schemes. Recent versions get a sophisticated head-up display, too. Interiors can feature seats that are heated, cooled or offer on-the-road massages.  

Standard features in the S-Class are expensive options in lesser cars, like an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, and keyless entry and driving. The range of optional extras is huge - so used buyers find a great variety in S-Class specifications. Make sure to check our specs list when shopping on cinch. 

It’s a very spacious cabin compared to normal saloon cars. If you want even more space inside, choose the long-wheelbase model. Rear-seat passengers can stretch their legs right out easily. And if you’re really unpopular with your neighbours, there’s even a fully armoured hijack-proof version.  

mercedes s-class rear-seat interior


You’re unlikely to buy an S-Class because it has a big boot, although it does. And a powered boot lid is a rather useful option while holding shopping bags or luggage. 

Is it practical? Depends on what you need. We’re way beyond the world of counting cupholders here. An S-Class can come with extraordinary features that talk to you, massage you or park for you using a 360-degree camera system. You still need to get in and out yourself though. More simple options include an uprated stereo with a 540-watt amplifier driving 24 speakers.  

There are versions with four-wheel-drive, ventilated rear seats or 64-colour interior lighting. Judge each version on the level of technology fitted. Some like autonomous driving features, for example, while others don’t. Some models of the big Mercedes come with body control systems that scan the road ahead and adjust the suspension in advance accordingly. Latest models have a climate system that can pump perfumed air into the cabin. It automatically switches to air recirculation if you enter a tunnel. 

black mercedes s-class front

Reliability and running costs

S-Class owners are unlikely to worry about fuel economy. The hybrid models come with rather ambitious official ratings of up to 123mpg. While the most thrifty diesel versions could achieve around half those figures, the petrol models can be very thirsty. The sportiest petrol version is rated at just 17mpg on official combined figures.  

Tax, insurance and maintenance will also be expensive. If anything needs fixing, bills could be enormous – thankfully reliability problems appear to be rare. The Mercedes brand has struggled with a reputation for niggling faults in recent years, however. If you’re worried about reliability, consider cinchCare for added peace of mind. 

What we love

It’s a showcase of the latest Mercedes automotive technology and premium luxuries wrapped in an impressively understated exterior. Choose a body style from the saloon, coupe and convertible and between sophisticated, powerful engines of every type-diesel, petrol, hybrid and plug-in electric. They all drive and handle with great verve and composure. Whatever version you have, the cabin is a serene, mobile palace of comfort, luxury and technology.

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Town and country drivers



Refined, sophisticated and opulent, the Mercedes S-Class is one of the best-equipped and most comfortable ways to travel. As a driver or passenger, it’s fast, smooth and almost silent. The range of options is like a catalogue of state-of-the-art car design and technology.

This review was