2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review & First Drive

by under Review on 23 Feb 2011 01:36:27 PM23 Feb 2011
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km


How do you make one of the world’s best, benchmark-setting luxury sedans even better? In the case of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, three new engines - with performance boosted by as much as 12.5 per cent and fuel consumption reduced by up to 24 per cent - will get the job done.

And after driving a selection of the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class models, Car Showroom can deliver the good news for luxury sedan buyers that, in many ways, the entry-level ($213,428) V6 turbo-diesel (S 350 BlueTEC) is the star of the new lineup.

A diesel-powered luxury sedan you question? You bet, the Europeans have been driving them for years and the stunning Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC is so quiet, so refined and performs so well you’ll battle to detect it’s a diesel.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Overview

Without doubt, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains the large luxury sedan by which all others are judged. The new engines and some interior changes are the only alterations in the revised model range which again includes standard and long wheelbase derivatives.


The complete lineup is:

S 350 BlueTEC $213,428
S 350 BlueEFFICIENCY $220,650
S 350 L BlueEFFICIENCY $238,975
S500 BlueEFFICIENCY $296,975
S 500 L BlueEFFICIENCY $315,300
S 63 AMG $392,900
S 600 L $412,000
S 65 AMG L $499,200

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Engine

‘Blue Direct’ is an umbrella term used by Mercedes-Benz to identify its latest range of fuel-efficient/low emissions drive trains. ‘Blue’ signifies the environment and ‘Direct’ identifies direct injection.

The three new engines for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are the S 350 BlueEFFICIENCY (3.5-litre V6 petrol), S 350 BlueTEC (3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel) and S 500 Blue EFFICIENCY (4.7-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol).

The S 350 BlueEFFICIENCY scores a new 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine. It’s a 60-degree V6, replacing the previous 90-degree version. Power is up by 12.5 percent to 225kW and peak torque has grown by 5.7 percent to 370Nm over a broader range from 3500rpm to 5250rpm.


Fuel consumption is down by a massive 8.2 percent to 9.0l/100kms.

For the S 500, displacement in the bi-turbo V8 is down to 4.663-litres, but power is up by 12 percent to 285kW while torque has been boosted by an incredible 32 percent to 700Nm. Fuel consumption has decreased to 10.5l/100kms (a 3.7 percent improvement).

But for us, the real surprise was the turbo-diesel – the S 350 BlueTEC. This is a stunningly quiet, refined and high performance European turbo-diesel.

Maximum power is 190kW and peak torque is 620Nm, but it’s the silky-smooth way this is delivered (via the standard 7G-TRONIC multi-disc clutch automatic transmission) which makes this model a standout.

The S 63 AMG just dominates with its 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 delivering 400kW/800Nm – clearly one of the world’s greatest high performance luxury sedans.

The Mercedes-Benz S 600 L retains its 380kW/830Nm twin-turbocharged V12 engine, while the ultimate S-Class is the S65 AMG L with its 463 kW/1,000Nm twin-turbo V12. For the 12-cylinder models, the transmission changes to a five-speed auto.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class The Interior

One of the joys of Mercedes-Benz S-Class ownership must come every time you open the door and climb inside – by any measure this is one of the world’s best interiors. Quite apart from the wonderful, rich trim finishes in varying timber materials (including Australian eucalyptus) and sumptuous leather, the technology is breathtaking.

Included in this latest round of alterations for the S-Class, Mercedes-Benz has introduced PASSION and Exclusive PASSION leather packages.

We’ve long been fans of the ‘Benz door-mounted electronic seat adjustment toggles (shaped like a seat for easy management) and the center console COMAND APS system can be used for further adjustment of seat bolsters. 


Electronic adjustment of the leather-wrapped steering wheel provides a perfect driving position and we loved the alcantara covered grips on the wheel of the S 63 AMG we drove.

The COMAND APS system is massive in its detail and takes some mastering but there’s lots to like – for example we selected the rolling fuel consumption bar graphs which showed how our fuel usage measured up over time. You can also get this information digitally on the gauges ahead of the driver.

As you would expect the Mercedes-Benz graphics are first class and brilliant in their displays.

Also included in this round of changes is an available Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG audio system (standard on S 65 AMG) with 15 speakers including an extensive set-up on the rear parcel shelf.

Rear seat passengers enjoy massive legroom (even more in the long-wheelbase configuration) and individual adjustment for climate control and audio. They also get their own individual, illuminated, fold-down make-up mirrors mounted in the roof.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior & Styling

This round of running changes for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was focused on the new engines so there were no alterations for the exterior.

Understandable really because this generation S-Class is already a classic, highlighted by its elegant profile, muscly wheel arch bulges and curved rear three quarters.


At the front that hallmark ‘Benz grille and three-pointed star together almost justify the price tag – the S-Class exudes style and substance wherever you look.

We would look carefully at the optional 19-inch and 20-inch wheels with varying rim widths as these fill the wheel arches just a tad better for sturdier on-road presence.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class On The Road

During a full day we covered a variety of roads between Melbourne and Bendigo behind the wheel of an S350 BlueTEC (SWB); S 350 L Blue EFFICIENCY (LWB) and S 63 AMG.

The turbo-diesel S350 BlueTEC was astounding – sure it’s the entry-level model but it’s a standout. Delivery of its 190kW/620Nm is ridiculously refined while accelerating from zero to 100km/h in just 7.1 seconds.


For the S350 BlueEFFICIENCY, this new 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine provided a marginally faster zero to 100km/h time of 6.9 seconds and it too was supremely refined at all speeds.

And of course the S 63 AMG with its 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 is simply one of the world’s great cars.

Over the twists and bumps of some secondary roads, performance drivers will appreciate the steel springs and sporty dynamics of the S63 AMG, but selection of the ‘Sport’ setting in the two other cars delivered much firmer ride from the adjustable air suspension. And when you’re back in town you can re-adjust the suspension for a softer ride (we were quite happy in ‘Sport’ mode permanently) 


On the freeway we couldn’t resist veering over the lane markings to sample the Active Lane Keeping Assist system as it automatically braked selected wheels to steer us back into our lane – the cheque you write to buy an S-Class provides entrée to the world’s best automotive technology like this.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Challenges

The latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup has so many variants (engines, wheelbases) and so many options packs it must be bewildering when it comes time to place your order – mind you, we wish that was a problem we were grappling with!

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Verdict

For us, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the world’s best luxury sedan. Full-stop. The new entry-level S 350 BlueTEC now has a standout turbo-diesel that is sublime in its performance and refinement, the petrol V6 is a gem and that bi-turbo V8 is as good as it gets.


Add-in the stunning luxury interiors and the armada of high-tech driver aids…well this is ‘Benz at its very best.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class The Competition

We’re waiting for BMW and Porsche to call with offers for us to review the latest 7-Series and Panamera, but there’s no doubt Mercedes-Benz and its S-Class measure-up in every department. Impressive resale values for the S-Class should also be considered.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Likes:

Brilliant new engines; stunning on-road dynamics; superb interiors; awesome looks; staggering technology

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Dislikes:

You’ll need a Cray Supercomputer to work out the final specs and options when ordering

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