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Long-term review

Mercedes-Benz S-Class S500 4Matic - long-term review

£110,325 /£110,325 as tested / £1,841pcm
Published: 14 Feb 2022


  • SPEC

    S500L 4Matic Premium Plus Executive



  • BHP


  • 0-62


Our Mercedes S-class thinks it's been in a crash

In a previous update I wrote about the Mercedes Me app and its myriad features. Well I discovered another one a few weeks ago and rather wish I hadn’t.

After an evening event in London, I return to the S-Class anticipating the smooth passage out of the city (any city) that is such a core part of its mission statement. I’m parked one street away from Savile Row, in Mayfair, prime territory for 2022’s, erm, uber Uber (bit harsh, the driver would be permanently on the payroll and not cancelling you when they’re supposedly two minutes away). 

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The S-Class observes its established protocol: if you’ve locked it with one push on the key fob, the door handles glide out to meet your hands as you approach. Opening the door requires only the slightest touch at the left end of the handle which doesn’t always actually work but no matter; it looks cool.

Inside, the cabin bathes itself in an expensively effulgent glow, an illuminated welcome as if to confirm that you have definitely arrived – in the grand scheme of things – before you’ve even set off. And it smells great too, thanks to the Air-Balance package (there’s a perfume dispenser in the glovebox). 

Then the main screen fires up with an unexpected top-view graphic of the car that says: collision detected. The rear end has sustained a ‘moderately severe impact’. The app pings to tell me the same thing. Eh?

So obviously I get back out in a state of rising panic to survey the damage. It’s difficult to see in the half-light of a London side street, but running my hand across the full width of the rear bumper reveals no sign of any dents or marks. The car behind is a beaten-up Toyota of indiscriminate vintage, and absolutely covered in encrusted bird poo.

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I’m no detective but I suspect we have our guilty party, someone for whom another car is merely a helpful mechanism for manoeuvring into a parking space. 

This sort of thing goes on all the time in big cities, but now a technocrat like the S-Class is capable of recording any violation. It also asks me if I want to report it to Mercedes’ emergency call centre, but as there’s no visible damage what’s the point of going there?

In fact, as I head home I can’t help thinking I’d rather not have known at all, and wonder how the sensors can determine a moderately severe impact when there’s not so much as a scrape. I guess the bumper did its job but I’m still… aggrieved. 

Elsewhere, the S-Class is doing that thing most Mercs do after a few months: making you wonder how you managed without it. I’m loving the heated seats, central arm rest and steering wheel. I’m not so enamoured of the Bluetooth connection to the Apple CarPlay that refuses to let me leave the – much more attractive – main display on when it’s synched up. A hard connection via the USB-c gets round that problem but shouldn’t have to. 

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