Road Tested By Hugh Maguire
I have no doubt that many of you reading this will be wondering is there anyone in Ireland currently in a position to drive around in a car who’s model range starts at just two grand under €100,000? Well apart from Ministers of State it would seem there are, though fewer than in recent years. So whether you actually have the dosh stuffed in the mattress or you simply wish to escape the doomsayers here is the review of the 2011 model year Mercedes S Class 350 CDI.
The 350 CDI is powered by a 2,987 cc six cylinder turbo diesel and follows Mercedes latest thinking with Blue EFFICIENCY, use of the best technologies for better fuel efficiency.
The S Class is one very fine, elegant and indeed classy looking motor car. It has a real presence on the road. For all its size (its over 5 metres long) it actually manages to look quite tidy. With new exterior detailing including twin chrome exhaust pipes to name but a few it really looks very well indeed.
My test car was finished in a colour called Dolomite Brown. Now it may not sound great but it looked absolutely fabulous. With optional 19 inch alloys and the unusual metallic colour it proved a real headturner.
Behind The Wheel
In true Mercedes fashion the cabin is as perfectly designed as the exterior. It has a certain cool simplicity about it with clean lines and a nice uncluttered look about it.
Like many car makers of today Mercedes have their own central “Command Controller” which allows the driver to operate many of the car’s systems such as climate control, audio, navigation (where fitted) via the rotary controller and the in dash colour screen.
The S Class is of course very well equipped with AIRMATIC, their electronically controlled suspension system, pretty much electric everything right down to raising and lowering the headrestraints, multifunction steering wheel, a 7 G-Tronic auto gearbox with paddle shift, and ambient lighting.
My test car had some options including, LED light pack, Full Leather, 19 inch alloys, wood trim pack, parking pack with reversing camera, electric heated seats, and a media interface, adding quite a bit to the base price. The cabin needless to say is very roomy added to which the huge boot will not disappoint even the most ardent traveller who wishes to take the kitchen sink.
The 6 cylinder 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel has a healthy power output of 232 bhp, mated to this superb 7 speed auto gearbox it makes for a winning combination of punchy effortless performance, silky smooth gear changes and actually a decent fuel burn considering the size of the car.
Emission come in at 201g/ km meaning it costs just over €1,000 to road tax per year. Not bad in this class! Over my week behind the wheel it returned a very respectable 8.9 litres per 100km. Needless to say performance is no less impressive hitting 100km form a standstill in just 7.1 seconds and onto a governed top speed of 250km/h.
For pure refinement it is hard to beat. Sometimes while driving the new S Class I felt I would get as much and maybe more pleasure out of sitting in the back. It is a lovely car in which to be driven, sit back and soak up the luxuriously appointed cabin and let someone else worry about the road ahead. If you are driving well it is not really as involving as its nearest rival the BMW 7 Series. The steering feels detached from the road below, you waft along in supreme comfort but it does not reward the driver in the way the BMW does. That said, handling is very good with a host of electronic aids such as ESP, EBD, Abs and so forth to assist if you screw up.
The latest S Class has had some cosmetic improvements which are very effective. As always with Mercedes though the real advances are under the skin and here the 2011 S class lacks nothing, safety, comfort, environmental considerations and performance are all admirably dealt with.
The range starts at €98,600 while the car tested with the aforementioned options topped out at a meaty €114,132. If you are looking for that illusive feel one gets from a car with the three pointed star on the bonnet, the S Class may just be for you.
Good luck with that lotto ticket!