Here is the luxury saloon by which all others are measured. This seventh generation Mercedes S-Class is now even cleverer to use, but its real strengths remain in comfort and refinement. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

You're looking here at one of the most advanced motor cars Mercedes-Benz has ever built. No longer is an S-Class merely about comfort, refinement and performance. This MK7 model also prioritises electrification, digitalisation and connectivity. There's never been a boardroom level luxury saloon quite like it.


The Mercedes S-Class. It's traditionally been the sensible answer to the question every motoring expert likes to dodge - 'what's the best car in the world?'. Other vehicles can be more opulent, faster or better to drive but over the years, no other model has so consistently delivered such a technologically-advanced blend of automotive virtues. Here, we're looking at the seventh generation 'W223'-series model.

No previous S-Class has ever been as complex, advanced or sophisticated as this one. Delivering this design - and it's all-electric sister, the EQS - has required a greater level of investment than any Mercedes has ever attached to a new model. Not just because of the new EV tech but also because there's a completely different engineering and technical philosophy in play here. A bigger step forward than any made with this model line since the S-Class, or 'Sonderklasse', badging was first introduced in the original 'W116'-series model back in 1972. Let's take a look.

Driving Experience

On the move, exemplary ride quality remains this model's key calling card, even better this time round thanks to the way the AIRMATIC air springs interact with the heavily re-engineered 'MRA' 'Modular Rear Architecture' platform. The super-slippery 0.22Cd drag factor ensures that highway refinement is class-leading too: which is where you can make use of the segment's best developed 'Level 2' autonomous driving tech - Mercedes' Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC' system, which works with 'Active Steering Assist' to basically look after steering, throttle and braking duties for you at cruising speeds.

For now though, you might be happy to enjoy driving it yourself, even in town, where this Mercedes eases through urban jams on a different plane to the motoring masses. Beneath the bonnet, all S-Class variants bound for our market feature in-line six cylinder 3.0-litre power, the options beginning with the 286hp S350d diesel rear-driven variant we tried. The same engine features with 330hp mated to 4MATIC AWD in the S400d. Or there's a 435hp petrol powerplant in the S500 4MATIC, which benefits from the brand's current 'EQ Boost' mild hybrid tech. That AMG-derived petrol unit also forms the basis for the alternative plug-in model, the S580e, which uses it in 367hp form, mates it with a 150hp electric motor and offers an impressive 63 mile all-electric driving range. Top Mercedes-Maybach variants get either a 503hp 4.0-litre V8 or, for the embarrassingly wealthy, a 612hp 6.0-litre V12.

Design and Build

The design of this seventh generation model, though clearly heavily evolved, remains intentionally conservative - the all-electric EQS version of this model makes more of a styling statement. Customers will like what's on offer here - a bolder grille flanked by more angular LED headlights that can now feature the brand's latest 'Digital Light' technology. Every model sold here will get the 'AMG Line' styling pack. And the slimmer rear lamps replicate a look we've already seen with the large CLS 4-door executive coupe.

Evolution may reign outside, but it's revolution in the cabin, completely re-imagined for a fresh era. Contrary to expectations, it's completely different to what you'll find in an E-Class or a large Mercedes SUV, the centre dash dominated by a big 12.8-inch portrait-orientated OLED centre touchscreen. Through the new capacitive double spoke wheel, you view a further digital monitor, a 12.3-inch instrument binnacle display which most variants supply with an innovative 3D display function. The brand's MBUX media system gets 50% more processing power here - and more intuitive voice and gesture control systems. And there's a huge head-up display. The style of the dash is dominated by a large wood panel extending into the doors and is topped by four rectangular vents.

Market and Model

A premium outlay has never previously put high fliers off from considering an S-Class - or, more likely, another S-Class: around 80% of European customers who've previously owned one return to purchase another Mercedes afterwards.

There are only two engine choices with the two entry-level specs, both of them conventional 3.0-litre six cylinder units; either the rear-driven S350d diesel we tried, with 286hp, or, for around £10,000 more, the considerably gutsier S500 4MATIC petrol-powered version, which has 435hp and AWD to transmit it to the tarmac.

If you want a wider choice of engines and an even higher spec, then a range of S-Class long wheelbase model options sit in the £93,000 to £115,000 bracket, with 'AMG Line Premium Executive', 'AMG Line Premium Plus' and top 'AMG Line Premium Plus Executive' trim levels available to you. The S580e PHEV petrol model was priced from around £105,000 at launch, around £13,500 more than the base diesel. Saving the planet doesn't come cheap.

Cost of Ownership

Let's get to the WLTP figures. The S350d variant that most customers will choose manages up to 42.8mpg on the combined cycle and 173g/km of CO2. The alternative S400d 4MATIC delivers up to 38.7mpg on the combined cycle and 192g/km of CO2. If you go for the petrol-powered S500 4MATIC, you'll be expecting those figures to take a bit of a dip, but Mercedes has compensated here with its 'EQ Boost' mild hybrid technology which features an integrated starter generator powered by a 48V on-board electrical system which enables certain hybrid functions, ultimately improving overall efficiency. As a result, the S500 4MATIC delivers up to 32.1mpg in standard shape form and emits 187g/km of CO2.

To do better, you'll need to ask your dealer about the plug-in hybrid version. Charging from empty should take only around 20 minutes with a rapid charger. And the S580e's combined WLTP fuel consumption figure is 353.1mpg.


This S-Class spearheads technological development, not only for Mercedes-Benz but for the automotive industry as a whole - and has done for decades. It's that important and is why this is - and will continue to be - the world's best selling full-sized Luxury-sector saloon. The best car in the world? You'll feel like it is if you buy one.


CAR: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

PRICES: £80,450-£206,775



CO2 EMISSIONS: 173-192g/km {S350d,S400d & S400} {WLTP}

PERFORMANCE: {S350d} 0-62mph 6.4s / top speed 155mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: {S350d}] (combined) 42.8mpg {WLTP}

BOOT CAPACITY: {litres} 540-550

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/height 5179/1954/1503 mm