The Mercedes-Benz S500.
The Mercedes-Benz S500.

Mercedes-Benz S500 road test review | high-tech carpet ride

CLOUDS had rolled for a dreary evening. But surrounded by a calming blue hue, we felt like knocking on the Mercedes-Benz heaven door.

Although there is nothing deathly about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It's more like the beginning.

This is where the mainstream future is born, with the best of the marque's new technology making its debut in this big luxury saloon.

If the cosseting ride isn't enough, there is a bewildering amount of gadgets and innovations under the skin which leave an ever-lasting impression.

Although cutting-edge technology doesn't come cheap. At $285,000 the Mercedes-Benz S500 is out of reach for the majority, but the advancements made here will ultimately flow-on to vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

The S-Class was the first to showcase the likes of anti-lock brakes, front and rear crumple zones as well as airbags… all of which are now standard on the latest offerings from the bargain basement to supercars.

Comfort

Two gigantic screens capture your attention once inside. The driver has a colour digital display which is beautifully crisp and concise.

Inside the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Inside the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Our test machine had no head-up display but the latest S-Class iterations do come with the functionality.

A 31.2cm screen sits central to the dash and is controlled by the console dial. Quick reference buttons enable you to enter segments such as sat nav, radio, media, telephone and car information.

Curved lines across the dash deliver an air of quality befitting the S-Class. Swooping inserts across the dash extend over the doors, while the concave Burmester speakers add to the extravagant look and feel.

Each outer seat has its own individual control on the door courtesy of being fitted with one of the many optional packages. You can adjust height, head rest, tilt and under thigh support. There is even a heating and cooling feature for each pew, along with goose down headrests.

Beautifully cushy leather is used across all surfaces, with the limited plastics kept out of sight.

Given all that, the chances of being uncomfortable are slim. Just to make sure the air conditioning system uses solar sensors, combined with GPS data, to analsyse the sun's elevation to help regulate the various cabin zones.

You can choose between seven hues within the car for ambient lighting, and we stuck with a lovely vivid blue which emanated across the dash, doors and around the door openings.

Oh, and all lights in the S-Class are LEDs for improved longevity and because they help conserve energy.

On the road

Silky smooth and effortless, the executive saloon is no slouch when it comes time to turn the screws.

The bi-turbo V8 generates a lusty growl and boasts a 0-100kmh sprint time of under five seconds. Some sports cars don't have that ability.

Yet the S500 is at its best when driven sedately, enabling the occupants to soak up the luxury and enjoy the ride. The driver can choose between luxury and sports settings on the air suspension, and a raft of measures such as electronically adjustable engine mounts and reduced body openings, make for a serene experience.

Although, some of the technological aids can just about do the driving for you. Radar cruise control keeps the S-Class a safe distance from the vehicle in front, while lane assist ensures you stay within the white lines… even with your hands off the wheel.

Then there are various cameras and sensors which can keep you out of trouble, like the night vision function which highlights pedestrians or animals on the roadside and the 360 degree camera makes parking a breeze.

You can also option "Magic Body Control" which uses sensors to analysis the road ahead and the chassis accordingly regulates the amount of oil needed in each of the separately controllable spring struts. It prepares the car for any bumps or lumps to iron out the imperfections.

What do you get?

There is a massive standard specification list, like the climate control air con for front and back, sunroof, power closing doors, 20-inch alloys, multi-function steering wheel with gear changing paddles, Burmester surround sound system, 31.2cm screen with 3D sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio connection along with a function that can use your smartphone to set up an in-car WiFi hotspot, digital radio and leather trim.

Also complimentary is the Driving Assistance Package which incorporates radar cruise control, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, as well as functionality which can help avoid an accident, plus eight airbags.

Running costs

Fuel consumption is about 10 litres for every 100km. Insurance premiums are in line with the price tag, and owners would be well advised to ensure that their insurers only use genuine parts in accident repairs as counterfeit parts don't maintain Mercedes-Benz's design principles or safety intentions.

Other options

For those shopping at the big end of town there is also the Audi S8 ($279,000), BMW 750i ($282,300) or Maserati Quattroporte S ($240,000).

Practicality

Five adults can be carried, although four achieves most comfortable results. Long wheelbase versions are perfect for those who like to be chauffeured, although even in standard guise there is excellent leg, head and knee room.

Inside the deep and wide console are two USB ports. Press the tray just below the air con controls and you find a handy spot for coins, along with the 12-volt plug - there is another pair of 12-volts in the back too. Drop the seat back of the centre rear pew and it features two cup holders, along with a useful storage spot. Up front there is another pair of cup holders, which can be nicely hidden away when not in use.

The boot too is reasonable, able to cope with a few golf bags or suitcases.

Funky factor

The new S-Class has a convex-concave effect for the entire flank, while the beltline runs from the front to the rear wheel arch and manages to somehow make such a large car appear more compact than its dimensions.

The styling is still traditional with the three-pointed star ornament on the bonnet, and there is no option for the modern avantgarde styling which has been popular in recent years.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Mercedes-Benz S500.

Details: Five-door rear-wheel drive upper-large luxury saloon.

Engine: 4.7-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol generating maximum power of 335kW @ 5250rpm and peak torque of 700Nm @ 1800-3500rpm.

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.2L/100km (combined average).

CO2: 215g/km.

Performance: 0-100km in 4.8 seconds.

Bottom line plus on-roads: $285,000.

What matters most

What we liked: Beautiful ride, extravagant internal luxury, lovely turn of speed from the V8.

What we'd like to see: Avantgarde external package for a more modern look, less optional extras.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is every 25,000km or 12 months.

VITAL STATISTICS
Model:
Mercedes-Benz S500.
Details: Five-door rear-wheel drive upper-large luxury saloon.
Engine: 4.7-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol generating maximum power of 335kW @ 5250rpm and peak torque of 700Nm @ 1800-3500rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 9.2L/100km (combined average).
CO2: 215g/km.
Performance: 0-100km in 4.8 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $285,000.



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