- Forceful, smooth powertrains
- Attention to the finest details
- Available all-wheel drive
- More safety features than ever
- A true first-class seating experience
- Steering lacks feedback
- Diesel and Hybrid models haven't arrived yet
With the addition of a beautiful, expressive new Coupe, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is no longer just the best sedan in the world; it's now a family of flagship models.
If there's a top to the luxury-sedan ladder, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long laid claim to it—especially if you value technology, engineering, and some of the most advanced active safety and occupant protection in the world, perhaps over lavish, hand-crafted displays of wealth and 'bespoke' exclusivity.
The S-Class remains one of the best flagship luxury sedans in the world, alongside the likes of the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Jaguar XJ, and yes, even the Tesla Model S. This past model year marked the introduction of a completely new, sixth-generation S-Class, and in keeping with tradition, the S-Class was first launched in just one guise: the S550, with a twin-turbo V-8. Since then, a high-performance S63 AMG 4Matic model; and now for 2015, the lineup gets wider yet with the introduction of flagship S600 and S65 AMG models.
And now it's not just a sedan. With the retirement of the CL-Series, a new 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe breaks onto the market, flaunting a striking profile and a unique roofline compared to the sedan. Details are familiar but bolder, with arching character lines that look crisper, and a tauter, more horizontal look to the rear styling. In front, the S-Class Coupe gets details that are much like those of the Sedans, with a more upright, broad-set grille, angular full-LED headlamps (which can host 47 Swarovski crystals), and large air intakes.
Inside, the Coupe and Sedan are more in sync, although they're not identical. We'd say it's the same design in the Coupe, only mapped to a slimmer form. In both cases, it's radically different than the layout of the previous, fifth-generation S-Class, with a clean, twin-tier horizontal look adorned with high-contrast materials, round vents, and considerably more brightwork.
For now, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class includes two versions. The base S550 has a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine, teamed to a seven-speed automatic with paddle shift controls and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive (4Matic) for sedans, or all-wheel-drive only for coupes. It's the epitome of a luxury-flagship powertrain, an effortless performer, in tandem with the standard air suspension. The tour de force here remains the available stereo camera that predicts the road surface ahead of the S-Class, giving it adaptive control over the ride quality in a way that works so well (provided it's in Comfort mode) that it feels rather magical.
Those with a penchant for speed as well as supreme luxury will appreciate that the S63 AMG is now joining the lineup. It gets most of the S-Class's standard bag of tricks, plus a few of its own, including a force-of-nature 577-horsepower, 664-pound-foot twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 engine and rear-biased 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The result is a sedan and coupe combo that can reach triple-digit territory with shocking ease (0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds), and a car that you'll love to drive as much as to be driven in. The new S-Class Coupe in particular emphasizes driving enjoyment, though its luxury-first nature dissuades you from sports car-style shenanigans.
And speaking of being driven, the First Class Rear Suite option for sedan models is just that--as close as you'll come to the front of the plane while you're riding in the back of the car. If anything, the finishes used in the S-Class are more beautifully crafted than ever. The tiny knobs that control its round vents aren't as sensually pleasing as the chrome pulls on a Bentley, but the quilted leather dash and silver-toned trim are as glamorous as anything Mercedes has ever made.
Otherwise, from its personal relationship with the driver to the emotional attachment it inspires in its owners (there's even a scent dispenser), the S-Class is playing to win, and to inspire a little more charm this time to counter the stoicism we can count on it to have, generation after another. Inside, this new approach is most evident, and it takes a real cynic to find fault with the Mercedes-Benz S Class' passenger comforts. You'll find superb front seats, easy access for those in back, and a fillip of first-class accoutrements to go with occasionally fiddly ergonomics.
No U.S. agency has crash-tested a sixth-generation S-Class yet, but with Mercedes' long-standing reputation for occupant protection (it maintains a very low fatality and injury rate, according to the insurance industry) and advanced safety features, it should again be a standout for safety, especially in light of its newest technology. From blind spots to surround-views, their are camera and/or radar sensors for everything, it seems. And the adaptive cruise control can steer its way along in stop-and-go traffic, or order a stop from a brisk pace when it senses a pedestrian or an animal in the road.
The businesslike way the S-Class goes about its chauffeur duties hasn't gone missing, but it's been massaged with a nurturing take on luxury. The whole Mercedes lineup has become less and less clinical, ever since its failed marriage to Chrysler; the new S-Class' pillowed, scented, remote-controlled, app-enabled, silver-graced cabin is its most sensually appealing ever. There's a bit more room inside than before--all U.S. cars are a longer-wheelbase variety--and every cubic inch is filled with systems to nurture passengers. It's fitted with reclining rear seats, airline-style work trays, dual TFT screens for the driver and the car's infotainment systems, and it's enabled for mobile-app connectivity. The seats have a warm-stone massage mode; Burmester sound systems are a pricey but achingly gorgeous upgrade.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The S-Class’ cabin is beautiful, with stunning details, and the exterior is inspired and elegant.
With an all-new look for the 2014 model year, and carried into this year, the Mercedes-Benz S Class has re-interpreted its legendary status among luxury sedans, coupes, and limousines. No matter the body type, however, the new S Class exudes an athleticism that enhances its large form and powerful lines.
In S Class Coupe form, the athleticism is strongest: the powerful nose shared with the Sedan (though in a slimmer, lower guise) meets an abbreviated side line, a sharply swept cabin, and a taut, tucked rear end. The result is a wide, low-slung look that belies the car's interior space.
The Sedan wears its lines with grace, still athletic, but more in the sense of a Tour golfer than that of a beach volleyballer. Large frontal features, including LED-accented lighting, a tall chrome-surrounded grille, and an arched roofline falling into a sleek, smooth tail.
In AMG form, the S Class becomes even more athletic, with more aggressive aerodynamics at the front, sides, and rear, to complement the louder sounds and monumental power output of these upgraded models. The S63 AMG Coupe, in particular, looks more like a sports car than like a full-size luxury coupe, but even the S63 AMG Sedan gains a younger look with the AMG treatment.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The S-Class is one of the best performance cars in the world—from the back seat. Drivers will prefer the AMG flavors.
Even the “base” 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Sedan comes standard with a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V-8 engine rated at 449 horsepower, resulting in 4.8-second 0-60 mph acceleration.Yet with the pace comes an impressive isolation and quietness.
With its 7-speed automatic, the S550 won’t come off as a sport sedan, but it will never leave you wanting for punch, either. The same goes for the base S550 Coupe—it’s very potent, if still large and not particularly nimble.
With the sedan, there’s also the option of an S600 model, sporting a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 engine rated at 523 horsepower. Although the V-12 is more potent, it’s also heavier, making this the boulevard cruiser’s option—its conservative rumble and V12 badging are both symbols of status.
Whichever of the S Class Coupe and Sedan litter you pick, these are fast, athletic large sedans, but they don't offer the connection or feel for the driver of the brand's smaller cars.
The next rung up the ladder takes the S Class to AMG. With the S63 AMG, both Sedan and Coupe come alive in ways that beggar belief—such large, luxurious vehicles shouldn’t be so quick or so agile. While still more disconnected than a true sport sedan, the AMG variants of the new S Class do readily take on impressive feats of speed.
While still very large examples of their breeds, both the S63 AMG Coupe and S63 AMG Sedan inspire with confident 4Matic all-wheel drive, fierce 577-hp twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 engines, and upgraded suspension tuning that allows them to carve corners with both grace and pace. Zero to 60 mph? Just 3.9 seconds for both coupe and sedan.
At the top of the list is the S65 AMG Sedan, again a V-12 option, but this time available in both the Coupe and Sedan body types. Unlike the S63 AMG, the S65 AMG is rear-drive only, yet is still capable of 4.2-second 0-60 mph runs, thanks to its 621-horsepower output.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class
Comfort & Quality
The 2015 S-Class is one of the most meticulously built Mercedes ever, resulting in a comfortable, quality car.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class interior is spacious, beautiful, well-made, and visually impressive. It would take a jaded heart to find fault in it, whatever the aesthetic preference.
Superb front seats offer just the right blend of suppleness and support, with wide, long cushions and ample adjustability. The rear seats of the sedan are equally spacious and comfortable; in the coupe, the low roof takes a bit of space, but the materials are still just as opulent and the surfaces just as plush. Shoulder, elbow, and hip room are ample across the board.
The Sedan offers a basic bench seat rear, bucket seats, or a First Class Rear Suite option that adds reclining rear seats with fold-out footrests, a central console with laptop trays, hot-stone massage function, and heated armrests. The right-front passenger seat’s headrest can even be removed, then the seat back reclined until it forms a nap-ready, chaise-style lounge for the right-rear occupant.
Fit, finish, and materials quality of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class is rivaled by few other cars in the world; it’s easily the best S Class yet. Buyers can choose from a range of wood, leather, and trim options, with a higher-performance bent from AMG offering carbon fiber accents.
Trunk space is ample, if not as relatively spacious as the cabin. In most forms, the S Class offers a rear-seat fold-down option with pass-through to the trunk.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The S Class is, in many ways, all about safety, with some of the most high-tech equipment around, including night vision, lead/follow cruise control, and inflatable rear seat belts.
Although unrated in crash tests by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class is still a very safe bet in an accident.
While the S Class’s high price tag may keep it out of the crash labs, the cars Mercedes makes that do get tested perform very well. On top of that, the S Class is built with even more attention to detail, and offers the most advanced safety technologies Mercedes-Benz has to offer.
Among the key safety features are: standard dual front, front side, and rear side airbags; curtain airbags; inflatable rear seat belts; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; adaptive brake lights; adaptive head restraints; and Pre-Safe, which locks doors and tightens seatbelt when a collision is imminent, as well as preparing the brakes for full-force application.
Optional safety technology includes adaptive cruise control with following and steering ability, approaching autonomous driving functions in limited environments; forward collision alerts with automatic braking; lane-keeping assist; blind-spot monitors; surround-view camera; night vision with obstacle and pedestrian detection; Active Parking Assist, and more.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class
The 2015 S-Class offers exquisite equipment, including Burmester audio, its own in-car perfumes, and some of the best seats in the world.
The Mercedes-Benz S Class has never been short on features and equipment. The 2015 model keeps that tradition alive.
In fact, it brings that tradition to a peak, offering a full rolling business-class environment with extensive technology integration. Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system is the interface to access audio, phone, navigation, and climate system, as well as many of the vehicle settings. Its unique combination of control wheel and clickable touchpad allows for many types of input, including gestures.
Adding a layer on top of COMAND is mbrace2, Mercedes’ mobile connectivity system that brings Facebook, Pandora, voice-to-text email and text messages, and more.
For those with a keen ear, a top Burmester sound system is available, a $6,400 option that includes 24 speakers, and 3D surround sound; a mid Burmester sound system with standard surround sound; and the default audio system, a 10-speaker Harman unit.
The displays that allow control of so many features are 12.3-inch TFT screens—two of them. Fitted so that they almost seamlessly extend from the instrument panel across the center of the dashboard, the screens can show nearly any of the car’s many information and control systems.
Standard features on all S Class models include leather upholstery, dual power front seats, power locks, windows and mirrors, and an AM/FM/CD/HD/XM audio system with USB input. Bluetooth connectivity and an SD card slot are also included, along with a hard-drive-based navigation system with dedicated music storage space.
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class
Without the previously available diesel and hybrid (for now), the 2015 S-Class is all about the V-8s—not so much about the gas mileage.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class is efficient for what it is, but it’s no green banner carrier.
The best of the range, the S550, scores 17 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined, according to the EPA. Add 4Matic all-wheel drive and the score drops just slightly to 16/26/19 mpg city/highway/combined for the sedan; the S550 4Matic Coupe rates 16/24/19 mpg. Opt for the S600, and gas mileage drops to just 13 mpg in town, 21 on the highway, and 15 mpg combined.
Opt for the AMG range and you’ll see similar figures despite the significant jump in horsepower: the S63 4Matic coupe and sedan rate 15/23/18 mpg; the S65 AMG sedan and Coupe score 13/20/15 mpg.