The S-class has long been synonymous with luxury, thanks to the car’s elegant aesthetics and compelling performance. Whether you choose the roomy sedan, sporty coupe, or indulgent convertible, these high-class Benzes are loaded with the latest technology and the richest materials. Anybody who’s somebody is a regular passenger in this world-class sedan, and it’s an easy choice for buyers who won’t settle for anything but the best. Yes, it’s expensive, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and that has never been truer than when said about the S-class.
While the S450’s twin-turbo V-6 is probably plenty of engine for most drivers, it’s hard to resist the S560’s silken V-8, so it’s the model we’d select. No matter which version you choose, the S-class is pricey, so we’d be light with the options. We would, however, consider the Driver Assistance package that adds a semi-autonomous driving mode, among other driver-assist features. We’d also select the Premium package, which adds massaging front seats with heat and ventilation; a self-parking feature with a 360-degree exterior camera system; power side-window sunshades for the rear seat; and keyless entry with push-button start.
The S-class sedan is available with one of two buttery smooth and powerful gasoline powertrains: a 362-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and a 463-hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8. The former is sold with S450 badges, and the latter wears S560 on its trunk lid. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive can be ordered with either engine. We clocked a rear-wheel-drive S450 at 5.3 seconds in our zero-to-60-mph test; the S560 did the deed in 4.2 seconds. Two-door models come only with the V-8 and the coupe managed a brisk 4.0-second zero-to-60-mph run at our test track. If these numbers aren’t exciting enough for you, the Mercedes-AMG lineup of S-classes (reviewed separately) is even quicker.
Behind its impressive visage—and huge screen area from its dual 12.3-inch displays—the S-class’s COMAND system is complex and holds the potential to overwhelm users. The menu structures are straightforward enough, but they juggle a great number of functions and options. There are five choices of controls for navigating the system, including the main control knob, a touch-sensitive pad next to that knob, hard-button shortcuts to key menus on the dashboard, redundant steering-wheel controls, and voice commands. The standard list of infotainment features includes navigation, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Onboard Wi-Fi and premium Burmester audio systems are optional.
As with many of its competitors, the S-class has a smaller trunk than you might imagine and doesn’t have a folding back seat to open up extra cargo room. We managed to fit five of our carry-on suitcases inside the trunk of both the sedan and the coupe. If you’ll need more cargo capacity, we’d suggest taking a look at the Lincoln Continental, the Volvo S90 or the Cadillac XTS, all of which held more carry-ons and can be had with a folding rear seat. It’s too bad Mercedes-Benz’s long-standing expertise in crash-test performance has yet to be validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In the absence of crash ratings from either agency, we cannot comment on its performance. That said, the S-class’s available suite of driver-assistance technologies is cutting edge and affordable—relatively speaking