Mercedes S500 L AMG

3 Jul, 2013 11:15am Jo Oliveira

The new Mercedes S-Class has been proclaimed as the world's best car - we put that claim to the test


This latest Mercedes S-Class is a major improvement over its predecessor. You have to experience it to realise how comfortable and quiet it really is. It feels like one of the finest luxury cars ever made. We’d like to see how cheaper models with fewer options feel, but based on this evidence, the S-Class has got plenty more awards to come.

The current Mercedes S-Class may have lost its Auto Express Luxury Car title after six consecutive years, but now there’s an all-new model hoping to reclaim its rightful place for 2014.

The cabin will immediately blow you away. Top-quality woods, metals and leathers are spread generously throughout. The dashboard and door panels all flow neatly together, and seemingly every button you push or mechanism you touch has been painstakingly engineered
to feel of the highest class.

You get the same sense of luxury from behind the wheel. Refinement is impeccable and ride quality unmatched. Door seals have been reinforced, the double-glazed windows have been thickened and the aerodynamics improved. Even travelling at 140mph on the Autobahn, we could easily hold a normal conversation. Pull up next to a diesel-powered truck at traffic lights, and you could be fooled into thinking the truck’s running on electric power – that’s how impressively insulated the cabin is.

The standard air-suspension with adaptive damping feels untroubled by bumps, ridges or even potholes, gliding over each with nothing more than a slight vibration in the cabin.

Our S500 – and currently only this version – comes with the option of Magic Body Control, which scans the road ahead and sets up the suspension accordingly. With the system on, the ride is uncanny – if you drive over a speed bump, the body appears to momentarily detach from the suspension so you barely even notice the bump’s there. It’s the ultimate in luxury, but a costly £4,340 option on top of the hefty £88,130 for the S500 L model.

This car features a 4.7-litre V8, with 449bhp, but you’ll notice the 700Nm of torque more than anything. It arrives from 1,800rpm – with 500Nm from just after idle – launching you forwards as soon as you press the throttle. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 4.8 seconds, and it’s absolutely effortless. There’s more weight in the steering than in the old car and a fair amount more grip through corners.

However, you’d be better off letting someone else drive and taking up a place in the back seats, especially if you go for the Executive seat package (a £5,000 option). You can recline your seat up to 43.5 degrees, pop up the leg rest and move the passenger seat forwards, so even six-foot adults can stretch out.

While practically lying down, you can opt for a hot stone massage from 14 separate air cushions mounted in the seat. Heated armrests and door panels are an optional extra.

Each rear occupant also gets a screen linked up to a 200GB hard drive and a high-performance Intel processor, allowing different screens to show different things. So while you surf the Internet, your friend can watch a film.

This big V8 engine may not be the best to showcase the S-Class’s new lower running costs, but it is slightly more efficient than the outgoing car’s, with economy up from 30.3mpg to 32.7mpg.

Better perhaps to look at the S300 BlueTEC Hybrid, which pairs a 201bhp 2.1-litre diesel engine with a 27bhp electric motor for economy of 64mpg and CO2 emissions of 115g/km. That model will be available in April 2014 – the same time the S500 goes on sale.

The S350 BlueTEC diesel and S400 petrol-electric hybrid will be the only models available when UK showroom deliveries start in September, while a plug-in hybrid S500 – promising more than 71mpg – is due in dealers here late next year.

This S500 L model may not be a big seller in the UK because of its poor fuel economy and near-£90,000 price tag, but with its incredible performance and optional Magic Body Control, it really is the ultimate version of one of the world’s best cars.

Disqus - noscript

Fugly Sh!t! Give me a Jag any day!!!

- that okay Mr Hallmark? £/per comment, right?

It Really Is WORLD's Best Car

A car that costs almost as much as a small house should be "the best car in the world", but it is lazy journalism to use that phrase as it's been quoted every time a new S-class has appeared for the last 20+ years.
Did Mercedes really call their new system "Magic Body Control"? I'd be embarrassed to ask for that in the dealership - nearly as embarrassed as blowing ninety grand on a car would make me.

No it simply isn't "The World's Best Car"! It can't be of it needs the front passenger seat rendering useless in order to stretch out in the back and as for those horrid stick-on afterthought screens?? Awful! The Range Rover will leave it for dead in the Luxury stakes. However, it will be an easy drive and better screwed together than current Mercs so the owners might be happy with them. Depreciation will be horrendous so it might be a great second hand buy 5 years down the road!

hi john, don't bother with longwordy sh!te. Gaydon pays out for this crap anyways dude.

where's you working from - Gaydon or home?

There's going to be a four cylinder diesel in an S Class?! The V6 is already a poor man's limo.
Also 32 mpg is not poor economy for a limo that'll hit 60 mph in less than 5 seconds - it's fantastic.

No - simply no it is not the best luxury car. However I am sure it is a good car but somehow Mercedes have in my opinion lost some ground which they previously held 100per cent. The dismal failure of the Maybach is an example of this loss. They really now seem to want to be a sports saloon type of car, and they are not sporty cars too big and awkward looking. Best luxury car try a Bentley (Audi in disguise?) a real best luxury car. More expensive yes, but price was not mentioned in your heading simply the word "best".

A Tata in disguise? U joking of course!

When you consider the majority of these will be used as taxi's, a 4 cylinder diesel makes lots of sense. As for the fuel economy of this beast, 32mpg is poor but the bottom line is I don't think you care if you can afford the 90k price tag.

The range rover will leave it for dead... Right up to the point it breaks down, and that won't be long!

The S-Class is certainly among the world's best cars if not outright the best.

it's a showcase of technology. in its own unique style it all looks good apart of the looks outside. in an era of iphones, thin screens, smaller and thinner is better, etc, i personally judge a car by how the very basic essence of the luxury car makes you feel minus all its techno gadgets, ride enhancers because the technology will easily become outdated, replaced especially when the korean cars will eventually take ideas from this so this won't feel so special.

For years we've had to endure cars designed for american tastes. Now obviously we have to put up with hideous designs catering to chinese (lack of) taste.

Key specs

  • Price: £88,130
  • Engine: 4.7-litre V8 turbo, 449bhp
  • Transmission: Seven-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 4.8 secs
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 32.4mpg
  • CO2: 199g/km
  • Equipment: 19-inch alloys, 200GB hard drive, LED headlights, two 12.3-inch display screens
  • On sale: April 2014