In whatever model, the Mercedes S Class remains the benchmark for the luxury sedan segment.
By Ghaith Madadha
Luxurious, comfortable, and conservative, the S-Class is the luxury car that proudly yet discretely says one has ‘made it,’ but without ostentatiously shouting it out or rubbing anyone’s nose in it. The S-Class, the first car to receive Mercedes’ latest gadgets, is extensively equipped and engineered for smooth, stable, and refined driving. It is offered with several engine options, and is the model range’s petrol powered entry level long wheelbase model, aimed at the Middle East, China, Australia, and other markets.
The latest S-Class is the range’s most luxurious, efficient, and safe incarnation yet, taking the top honor at last year’s Dubai-based regional Middle East Car of the Year awards. Not one for overstatement, the S-Class’ large and wide grille, subtly sculpted surfacing and high, indulgently long bonnet are counterbalanced by rounded edges and smooth lines. Its fluent submarine-like lines include a character line stretching from headlight LED strips, arched roof, discretely muscular shoulders, and a tapered sloped boot.
Powerful and efficient for an entry-level model, the S400’s 3-liter direct injection twin-turbo V6 engine develops 328 BHP at 5250-6000 rpm and 354 lb/ft throughout a broad 1600-4000 rpm midrange. Combined with increased lightweight aluminum usage in construction and with a 7-speed automatic gearbox, it is both quicker and more efficient than before, achieving 7.9l/100 km on the combined cycle. The S400 suffers little low-end turbo lag and can dash to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds and onto 250 km/h. Its broad and rich mid-range torque band provides muscular on-the-move versatility and responsiveness, and underwrites its build-up towards its generous power plateau.
With standard air suspension, the S400 comfortably wafts over and irons out lumps, bumps, and imperfections, and is buttoned down on rebound. Its suspension sport mode makes it tauter and more focused on highways. Its steering, which is light and with tight turning circle for in-town maneuverability, also serves well on B-roads. Agile for a 1975 kg car, the S400 well-controls body weight transfer and is balanced in corners. It grips hard when one leans on the outside rear tire and drives smoothly. Vigilant stability controls also prevent rear grip loss.
Comfortable and well-insulated from noise, vibration, and harshness, the extended wheelbase S400 L also offers ample rear legroom and headroom. Its seats are comfortably cushioned and upholstered with quality leathers, and are highly adjustable and comfortable for passengers. Additionally, massaging seats are optionally available. With a warm and welcoming ambiance, the S400 L features quality wood and metal accents, and ergonomic and user-friendly instrumentation, including a large infotainment screen and optional touchpad controller. The tested vehicle included keyless entry, hands-free access, multi-zone, rear electric sun blinds, and other features.
Unlike entry-level S-Classes of the distant past, the S400 L is luxurious but not austere. Rather, it’s packed to the rafters with convenience, driver-assistance, and safety systems. Included are all-LED lighting, a Collision Prevention System, Active Parking Assist with reversing camera, and Night View Assist, which detects dangers ahead and automatically displays them. Optional features also include Cross-Traffic Assist, which can increase brake assistance, at up to 72 km/h, if collision is anticipated at a junction. However, the new S-Class L’s signature Magic Ride Control that uses radar to read road texture and preemptively adapt suspension, is only available on S500 and higher versions.
Engine: 3-liter, direct injection, twin-turbo, V6-cylinders
Gearbox: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 328 (333)  @5250-6000 rpm
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 354 (480) @ 1600-4000 rpm
0-100 km/h: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption, combined: 7.9 liters/100 km
CO2 emissions, combined: 184 g/km
Length: 5246 mm
Width: 1899 mm
Height: 1496 mm
Steering: Variable power-assisted, rack and pinion
Brakes: Ventilated discs
Tires, F/R: 245/45R19 / 275/40R19