S500L 4Matic Premium Plus Executive
Is a Mercedes S-Class the world's best car... to live with?
Honestly, I was a little unsure about taking custody of a long wheelbase S500 when the idea was first floated. A gigantic first world problem, I know. This is a big car. It’s very expensive. And most of all, what if I looked like a moonlighting posh private hire driver?
The Onyx black metallic paint and 21in AMG light alloy wheels offset the latter or at least move it into Russian oligarch/Logan Roy-media baron mode. It’s also a car designed to promote the well-being of its occupants even if some of them might not be over-bothered about the well-being of everyone else.
Having just driven from the Stansted area to Norwich on an unscheduled university drop with child number one, and from there into central London, it’s pretty clear that there aren’t many modes of transport that erase long distances more efficiently. At least among the ones that don’t have jet engines. It also smells much nicer inside than a Magic Tree.
That’s always been the S-Class’s USP, as well as being the traditional Mercedes mechanism for unleashing new technology. The question is, has the company gone too far with this seventh generation iteration, in particular in the integration of its new 12.8in OLED touchscreen and user interface? What of its burgeoning Driving Assistance package? Six months with one is a hell of a way to find out.
For all its tech firepower, the new S-Class currently still relies on internal combustion for its motive power. The car TG is running is the – wait for it – S500 4Matic L AMG Line Premium Plus Executive, that elongated name denoting the fifth and most sybaritic of the five available equipment lines.
In the UK, 80 per cent of S-Classes sold are the long wheelbase version; as is the way with these things it has grown by 34mm to measure almost 5.3m in length, it’s 1.92m wide and the longer wheelbase itself now measures a colossal 3216mm.
The active rear axle offered in two forms in other markets is unavailable in the UK for some reason. Go easy on the three-point turns and choose multi-storey car parks carefully.
The S-Class uses a re-engineered version of Mercedes’ large-car Modular Rear Architecture (now called MRA2) platform, which has additional aluminium in its construction (more than 50 per cent by weight) to complement the hot-formed high tensile steel used in the car’s safety cell and elsewhere. This is also likely to be the last internally combusting version.
The pure-electric EQS is already here and prompts the powerful realisation that Mercedes won’t be working on an eighth generation Sonderklasse, certainly not as we’ve known them since 1972.
Anyway, what we have here is a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder, making 429bhp and 384 torques, whose efficiency and performance is boosted by a mild hybrid that uses a 48v electrical system and integrated starter motor to add 22bhp and 184 torques.
Most importantly, this helps keep fuel consumption on the correct side of 30mpg, while its CO2 emissions are just 202g/km. These are strong numbers for a car of this size and singular purpose.
Put another way, I feel marginally less guilty driving it, and less terrified filling it up. There are mid-sized crossovers that are less efficient…