Mercedes S600L

10 Apr, 2007 1:00am Sam Hardy

The S600L is one of the best luxury cars in the world but there are less financially intimidating versions in the range


With the exception of hugely expensive limousines such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Maybach 57, the S600L is one of the best luxury cars in the world. It's an amazing showcase for Mercedes' abilities in engine technology, build quality and driving dynamics. However, for the majority of buyers, who will no doubt be chauffeur fleets, there are less financially intimidating versions in the range that will perform just as well.

There are luxury limousines, and then there is the Mercedes S600L... This new S-Class is perhaps the most amazing flagship ever to wear the famous three-pointed star badge.

With the highly tuned S65 AMG catering for those who want a limousine that handles like a sports car, the S600L is aimed at captains of industry who would rather let someone else take the strain of driving.

That's why, as well as a mighty 5.5-litre bi-turbo V12 engine, it is 130mm longer than the standard car, allowing for extra legroom in the rear.

Carrying a spectacular price tag of £101,185, it costs nearly twice as much as the entry-level S280. However, if you look at it another way, it's a relative bargain next to Mercedes' Maybach 57, which offers the same engine and a little more badge ex-clusivity for £250,000.

Climb in the back of the S600L and you can't fail to be impressed. There's a huge amount of legroom - even a six-foot passenger sitting behind a similarly sized driver can stretch out his legs.

And with deeply cushioned chairs, a separate rear climate control system and ergonomically designed headrests, it's fabulously comfortable.

Material quality is excellent, with neat touches such as a double-length smoked glass sunroof, beautifully machined metal switches and classy wood trim. As standard, you get electric blinds and an amazing Harman Kardon stereo system. But if you want to add TV screens in the rear, you will have to fork out another £3,200. On the move, the S600L continues to impress. There's a near complete absence of road and wind noise, and the icing on the cake is a cosseting ride - even on the vast 20-inch AMG alloy wheels of our test car, which add another £1,800 to the already frightening price tag.

Factor in adaptive air-suspension with Mercedes' Active Body Control, and the S600L is impressive around corners, too, especially given its size and two-tonne weight.

The engine is simply remarkable. Boasting 830Nm of torque, the twin-turbo V12 provides supercar performance, and does so silently. The five-speed automatic gearbox also shifts as smoothly as any transmission currently available.

Given the pace it offers, the V12is also reasonably frugal, returning nearly 20mpg combined. But its CO2 emissions are less socially acceptable, at a rather horrendous 340g/km. And with its brash styling, owners won't be making friends because of the way the S600L looks either. All in all, is it really worth its epic price tag? There is no doubt the S600L is a spectacular machine, but for those with any sympathy for the environment, and their wallets, there's the S320L CDI, which is a snip at 'only' £59,000.

Key specs

* Price: £101,185
* Engine: 5.5-litre V12 bi-turbo
* Power: 517bhp
* Top speed: 155mph
* Transmission: Five-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
* Economy: 19mpg
* CO2: 340g/km
* Service intervals: Variable
* Standard equipment: Airmatic suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels
* On sale: Now