Driven: Mercedes-Benz S350 CDI
Does having a smaller engine and getting a few features stripped off take anything away from Mercedes' flagship? We find out in our road test...
A smaller engine and a few less gizmos have failed to rob Merc’s flagship model off it’s charm. Yes, just five months since the launch of the latest generation and long time claimant of the title 'World’s Best Car', the S-Class is now available in a less powerful but effective avatar – the S350 CDI.
As the name suggests, there is a 3.0-litre V6 under the massive bonnet to compliment the top-of-the-line S500, which debuted earlier this year. The S350 brings the economy of diesel to those wanting the ‘best car in the world’. It's a typically meaty and refined Merc diesel with loads of power and even more torque. We see this engine in similar spec in the GL350 too. That’s 254bhp and 620Nm capable to lug the massive limo from zero to 100kph in a mere 7.51 seconds, and go on to a top speed of 250kph.
The engine is mated to a 7-speed G-Tronic Plus. It’s effective to the point of getting power down to the rear wheels in a manner befitting a king. It is relaxed without being lazy and shifts at just the right time. The acceleration is less hairier than an A8 but is as effective. While the S500 is a quicker beast and the S350 obviously lacks that top end whack, it does gather speed that fits a seriously fast saloon that costs in excess of Rs 1.25 crore on-road.
Similar to the S500, the S350 is locally assembled and with Mercedes manufacturing the aluminium body shell now in India, it's a remarkable feat by the Indian factory, considering the Germans tend to get a bit finicky when it comes to making their flagship model.
Ex-showroom, the car costs nearly Rs 20 lakh less than the S500, thanks to the smaller engine and lesser equipment. Gone are night vision, rear luxury reclining package and a 360-degree camera among a few other gizmos. But the S350 still has a fabulously finished interior, built-in massage seats, soft-feel carpet, real wood finish, two massive screens for the instrument cluster and multimedia, navigation, Burmester music system and an overall feel that's fit for the kings.
In case you are wondering, the fuel efficiency hovers around 9.5-10kpl, which should go down well with many owners. More importantly, what will go down well is the fact that despite the drop in features, the S-Class still remains a massively pampering experience – not by features alone but with a drive experience that is unique to this car. And the drop in horses hasn’t affected street presence. It’s job well done.
2987cc V6 Diesel, 254bhp @ 3600rpm, 620Nm @ 1600-2400 rpm, 0-100kph: 7.51s, top speed: 250kph, Fuel efficiency: 9.85kpl, Rs 1.36 crore (estimated, on-road)
Not just an affordable S-Class, but one that also makes a lot of sense.