We get behind the wheel of the entry-level Mercedes-Benz S-Class to find out if its new engine can live up to badge expectations
Tell me about this car
A new 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine debuts in the S350d sending 210kW and 600Nm to the rear wheels.
While sitting at the base of the S-Class family tree, it’s still jam-packed with the sort of luxury features you’d expect from the S-Class – the car that for decades has been unofficially referred to as the best car in the world.
- Slick, refined new engine: The 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel is new for Mercedes-Benz, and offers plenty of power and torque smoothly when needed. Don’t worry about the diesel engine sullying the S-Class’ traditionally magic-carpet power delivery. The engine is one of the most refined of its type at any price.
- Rides like a cloud: Sitting atop optional air-suspension (well worth the $800 extra cost), the S-Class rides beautifully, soaking up imperfections in the road. Only the largest, most jagged, potholes will send a muted thump into the cabin.
- Silky smooth steering: The steering feel of the 350d is delightfully smooth and easy, with a progressive rack. Feedback through the wheel rim feels remote, but if you’re worried about being able to dance on the edge and feel out the car’s limits of the tyres, the S-Class probably isn’t for you.
- Tech-galore: The S-Class is filled to the gills with equipment and smart technology. Although being the entry model, the 350d has leather trim, heated and cooled front seats, a Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED matrix headlights and a new interior ambient lighting system. There’s also a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, auto-dimming rear-view and side mirrors, keyless entry, auto-closing doors and an electric boot lid all as standard. Anyone with a fascination with technology will love how much has been crammed into the S-Class’s cabin. It features some of the industry’s best semi-autonomous driving tech, but Mercedes has managed to make it all feel unintimidating and intuitive.
- Audio: If cranking the tunes is important to you, the 350d will be right up your alley. There’s a 13-speaker Burmester sound system which provides crisp audio to the hushed cabin.
- Fuel efficiency: Mercedes-Benz quotes an official fuel consumption figures of 5.4L/100km, and after 533km of driving on twisty rural roads and multi-lane freeways, the on-board tripmeter reported a consumption of just 5.5L/100km. Travelling more than 1000km on a single tank of fuel would be no problem for the 350d, underscoring its cross-continental cruising ability.
- Options will set you back: While some buyers will be more than happy with the standard kit, if you want to personalise your flashy new S-Class, it’ll prove expensive. The AMG Line styling on our test car costs $4500 alone. Or, for $8500, Mercedes-Benz will fit the individual rear-seats available on the flagship Maybach S-Class to the 350d as part of the business class package.
- Dimensions: While there isn’t a long-wheelbase variant of the 350d available, it’s still a large vehicle physically. It requires a bit of attention to keep within a narrow lane if you’ve switched off the lanekeeping assist system. It’s also difficult to squeeze it in tight parking spaces, despite being equipped with an excellent top-down view parking camera.