If the Mercedes-Benz S-Class isn’t the finest automobile in the world, it is most definitely high on the list. There are very few – if any – vehicles that can touch this car when it comes to performance, safety and innovative technology. The iconic flagship S-Class is, in many eyes, as good as a car gets.
The newest model in the lineup is the 2012 S350 BlueTec, powered by a turbo-diesel V-6 engine that can take you more than 700 exquisite miles on a single tank of diesel. We were fortunate enough to be testing that model this week, so we decided we must take it on the road.
The sedately-styled S350 arrived wearing Verde Brook exterior paint, with a black leather interior. The first thing we noticed getting inside the S350 was that with a full tank of gas, the car has an astonishing range of more than 700 miles, meaning that our trip to Pensacola could easily be done on one tank.
EPA mileage estimates are 21 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The turbo-diesel kicks out 240 horsepower, but the torque is the amazing thing about this diesel-powered vehicle: more than 455 lb.-ft. between 1.600 and 2,400 rpm. We never came close to testing it, but the top speed on the diesel-powered S350 BlueTec is electronically limited to 130 mph. The zero to 60 time is 7 seconds flat. The transmission is a new 7-speed automatic that provides better fuel mileage, more responsive driving and quieter performance.
While performance and power are astonishing, the luxury inside the S350 is also world class. We didn’t have to slam our test vehicle’s doors, they snugged themselves shut automatically. The dynamic front seat bolsters can be set to push gently on your right side when you turn left and on your left side when you turn right. The seats will also give the driver and passenger a heated or cooling massage, which is the thing we will miss most about our test car.
Back seat passengers are not forgotten either: their seats are heated and cooled, and they recline for ultimate comfort. Four-zone climate control means everyone is comfortable. A rear power sun shade goes up with the push of a button.
When it comes to safety, the S-Class has introduced some of the most innovative safety systems on the market. The car can detect sleepiness in the driver and sound an alert. If the wheels drift left and start to cross the solid yellow line, the car will automatically vibrate the steering wheel and apply slight brake pressure to the right side wheels to bring the car back into its lane. If the car starts to cross a dotted line without the turn signal being on, the car will vibrate the steering wheel to alert the driver. There are also blind spot warning lights on both side mirrors to warn the driver of another vehicle in the blind spots.
The systems are part of the car’s Distronic Plus safety system, which also has dynamic cruise control to keep your car a set distance behind the car in front. All models have anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control systems and a full complement of airbags.
Prices for the variants of the S-Class range from about $91,000 to well over $200,000. Our test S350 BlueTec, which had all the above equipment and other options, stickered at $104,330.
Pricey? Sure. This car is obviously not for every budget.
But if you have the funds, this car bows to no other, and it runs easily with the Jags, Bentleys, Maseratis and Porsches.
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Test model base price: $92,550
EPA mileage rating:21 mpg city/31 mpg highway