Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2006-2013 review

Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Benchmark, trend-setting luxury saloon gives you world-class luxury from £3000, but watch for unwanted surprises

Putting aside anything bearing the Spirit of Ecstasy or similar, is there a luxury saloon more revered than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class?We think not, particularly in fifth-generation form. Between 2006 and 2013, everyone from celebrities to world leaders got around in them, often sitting behind a chauffeur. These days, it’s an uncommon sight.After all, the W221-era Mercedes S-Class has long since been succeeded. That’s no bad thing, though. Now they have fully descended into the used market and examples are in reach of anyone with as little as £3000. Fancy a V8 one? There are some listed for less than £10,000.The extensive engine line-up ranges from the S280’s 3.0-litre V6 to the S65’s 6.0-litre V12, although most buyers opt for the S320 and S350 CDi diesels. They have 232bhp and 268bhp respectively, with the S320 linked to pre-facelift cars (before 2010) and the S350 to those after.Let’s circle back to that V12, though, because it’s ridiculous – in a good way. With 603bhp and twin turbos at its disposal, this engine pushes the 2.2-tonne S65 from 0-60mph in 4.4sec. Even the lesser S63, with a 6.2-litre or 5.5-litre V8 (depending on, again, which side of the facelift it falls under), puts in a sub-5.0sec effort.Numbers tell you only so much, of course, so how does the S-Class drive? It deals with bumps like they don’t exist and is about as quiet as a church. The seats are suitably plush, too, with lots of adjustment and, should the original owner have chosen it, a massage function.As for handling, this heavy machine is surprisingly competent. It’s no sports car, but there’s a good level of precision, poise and balance. You also get a reasonable degree of feel coming through the steering, even though its weighting is very light.What isn’t surprising is the impressive level of tech. The S-Class is always the first to get any new systems that Mercedes produces, and this iteration of it is no exception.To name a few, there’s Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Attention Assist and Distronic Plus radar cruise control, all of which were innovative options at the time.It’s a lot, isn’t it, and we won’t sugar-coat the fact that this isn’t a Ford Fiesta in terms of maintenance. Fancy gadgets and air suspension are far from immune to going awry, not to mention there’s the fuel economy to think about.Some of the lower-powered diesels can officially average more than 40mpg, sure, but get one of the V8s or V12s and you’ll see much closer to 20mpg. It’s also worth looking into insurance and road tax before you buy to ensure neither comes as an unwanted surprise.However, the S-Class is a used car bargain to begin with, so we wouldn’t blame you for stomaching these costs and diving in.Nor would we blame you for hiring someone in a nice suit and tie to drive you around in it. This is a car that’s easy to enjoy whichever seat you’re in.
Source: Autocar

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