2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 23, 2016

Coupe, Cabriolet, and Maybach versions—and even a Plug-In Hybrid—make the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class far more diverse and adventurous than it used to be; it's now not just a flagship sedan, but a family of flagships.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is no longer the flagship of the German automaker's lineup; it's a complex set of flagships, with coupe, cabriolet (convertible), and sedan versions, and powertrains including all-wheel drive versions, high-performance AMG versions, and even a new S550e plug-in hybrid.

Although not everyone will pick the same model, or the same build, the S-Class remains the one to get when you value technology, engineering, and some of the most advanced active safety and occupant protection in the world—perhaps a bit more than lavish, hand-crafted displays of wealth and "bespoke" exclusivity.

Last year a new coupe joined the lineup; and for 2016 there's an S-Class Cabriolet, including an excellent three-layer soft top, a wondrously complex climate-control system, and the much-loved Airscarf system, which wafts just the right amount of warm air to your neck, allowing you to enjoy chilly yet beautiful spring or fall (or winter) days. And yes, even the cabriolet can now be equipped with all-wheel drive.

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The coupe remains a stunner, 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 more brightwork and accents.

The S550 models have a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine, teamed to a 7-speed automatic with paddle shift controls and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive (dubbed 4Matic) for sedans, or all-wheel-drive only for coupes. These models make 449 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and It's the epitome of a luxury-flagship powertrain, an effortless performer, in tandem with the standard air suspension.

One of the best—among the S-Class' many features—is 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.

While the S-Class was first launched in just one guise: the S550, with a twin-turbo V-8, it's been joined by a high-performance S63 AMG 4Matic model, and flagship S600 and S65 AMG models. The S63 AMG gets a larger, 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8, making 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque (and all-wheel drive)—and the quickest 0-60 mph acceleration in the lineup, at 3.9 seconds—while the rear-wheel drive S65 AMG has a twin-turbo V-12 making 621 hp and 738 lb-ft.

The new S-Class Coupe in particular emphasizes driving enjoyment, though its luxury-first nature dissuades you from sports car-style shenanigans.

And there is, by the way, another model that takes off in a dramatically different direction. The Mercedes-Maybach S600, priced around $190,000 to start, brings an opulent look aiming at Rolls-Royce, pushes all of the technology and feature buttons at once, and adds 8 inches in total length for a truly limousine-like cabin.

Meanwhile, the S550e Plug-In Hybrid offers a fresh take on the S-Class family, to please those who might want to impress their dinner guests with all-electric motoring, perhaps, if for short distances. The S550 will go for 12 miles in all-electric mode, and with an 85-kw electric motor system packaged with the transmission, its powertrain makes a combined 436 horsepower and it can dash to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Or in "normal" driving, it'll return 26 mpg combined.

For those who would rather be 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.

In many respects, the S-Class is aiming to be a little more charming 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. The ergonomics are occasionally fiddly, yet you'll find superb front seats, easy access for those in back, and a fillip of first-class accoutrements.

From blind spots to surround-views, there are camera and/or radar sensors for everything, it seems. 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. Don't expect it to be tested by either of the U.S. safety agencies, but do expect these models to have some of the best real-world records for protection, as it's always been.

The whole Mercedes lineup has become less and less clinical, and in these latest models it's taken a new, very plush form. The new S-Class' pillowed, scented, remote-controlled, app-enabled, silver-graced cabin is its most sensually appealing ever. Every cubic inch is filled with systems to nurture passengers, and it's fitted with reclining rear seats, airline-style work trays, dual, 12.3 high-resolution screens for the driver and the car's infotainment systems. The seats have a warm-stone massage mode; Burmester sound systems are a pricey but achingly gorgeous upgrade.

On the new S-Class Cabriolet, you'll find many of the same features, but most notably the excellent AirScarf neck-level heating system—a must for any chilly spring or fall day when you want to put the top down.

The primary gasoline version in the lineup, the S550, scores 17 mpg city, 26 highway, 20 combined, according to the EPA. Add 4Matic all-wheel drive and the score drops just slightly to 16/26/19 mpg for the sedan; the S550 4Matic Coupe rates 16/24/19 mpg.

9

2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Styling

The S-Class is inspired and elegant, with stunning details and a warmer, richer feel to the materials than it had in the past.

The flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class has a very demanding crowd to satisfy. It has to, at the same time, exude all the luxury and class that has made this model a luxury benchmark for decades; however at the same time, it helps set some of the design details that reverberate down the lineup.

The S-Class lineup now spans sedans, coupes, and limousines, and across them all the S-Class exudes an athleticism that enhances its large form and powerful lines. As a whole, it holds true to everything it has in the past: technologically at the leading edge, but staid and formal in appearance. Yet in its current guise, the S-Class looks on the outside like it's been allowed to loosen up a bit.

The current S-Class lineup still looks as eye-catching as it does since when it was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year. Compared to the previous model, which went in a new direction inside but was still rather formal on the outside, the swoopy and curvaceous roofline remains the major step forward for this model.

Since then, several of Mercedes-Benz's smaller sedans—especially the C-Class—have inherited some of that look, as well as the far more expressive design influences inside.

The sedan wears its lines with grace, still athletic, but more in the sense of a tour golfer than that of a beach volleyballer; there's not much joviality about it. Large frontal features, including LED-accented lighting, a tall chrome-surrounded grille, and an arched roofline fall taper a bit into a sleek, smooth tail.

The cleaned-up, streamlined look of the cabin itself oozes splendor yet functional simplicity. The age of individual buttons for everything is long gone, and it's been given the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz COMAND connectivity system. A beltline swoops around the driver and passenger and pulls farther back in the middle, while gauges and the COMAND screen are part of a continuous control center that no longer compartmentalizes the gauge cluster and center stack.

Head to the S-Class Coupe and there's a good deal more athleticism as the default. The coupe shares its powerful nose with the sedan (though in a slimmer, lower guise), but gets an abbreviated side line, a sharply swept cabin, and a completely different, taut-and-tucked rear. It adds up to a wider, more low-slung look that ends up as a sort of juxtaposition to the Coupe's spacious interior.

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, it gets closer to the look of a sports car in S63 AMG Coupe form. But even the S63 AMG Sedan gains a younger look with the AMG treatment.

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9

2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Performance

If you judge your cars by the back seat, the S-Class is one of the best performance cars in the world.

Powertrains for much of the Mercedes-Benz lineup have been quite dramatically downsized over the past several years; yet in the S-Class lineup the engines stayed nearly as large as they were before—and then became turbocharged. The result is a whole lot of power on reserve—even in the "base" S550. 

In the S550, a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V-8 engine is rated at 449 horsepower, resulting in 4.8-second 0-60 mph acceleration.Yet with the pace comes an impressive level of isolation and quietness.

The S-Class sticks with 7-speed automatics at a time when some of the Mercedes-Benz lineup is upgrading to 9-speeds. Seven ratios are sure plenty, and while this transmission isn't sport-sedan quick, it's plenty responsive. The same holds for the S550 Coupe, which is more of a touring coupe and not all that willing to dance—but it's still very potent.

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 hp. Although the V-12 is more powerful, it’s also heavier, making this the boulevard cruiser’s option—its conservative rumble and "V12" badging are both symbols of status. The top-of-the-line Mercedes-Maybach S600 gets this powertrain, too.

Overall, the S-Class Coupe and Sedan models are fast and athletic although a little lacking in driver feedback and connection to the road. They lack the sportier driving feel that's now entered much of the model line—particularly in the brand's smaller vehicles.

The S63 AMG 4Matic and S65 AMG are the true performance models of the lineup. 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-turbo 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 takes just 3.9 seconds for both coupe and sedan. The 621-hp S65 AMG models aren't quite as quick, but that's because their rear-wheel-drive-only layout simply can't get the power to the pavement as well.

And with them the subjective driving experience turns around. In this guise, both the sedan and coupe come alive in ways that are unusual in such large, luxurious vehicles.

For 2016, the S550e Plug-In Hybrid joins the lineup. With an electric motor system, packaged within the transmission, that puts out 85 kilowatts (114 hp) of peak output, this model makes a total output of the combined powertrain is 325 kw (436 hp). And Mercedes-Benz quotes a 0-to-62-mph acceleration time of 5.2 seconds.

Performance from this big sedan is brisk and satisfying, if you go by straight-line responsiveness, and the brakes are especially well-coordinated. Although it's noticeably heavier and that affects its handling and (perceived) maneuverability.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Comfort & Quality

Meticulously built, supremely comfortable, and finely detailed, the S-Class feels every bit as classy as it looks.

If after a short road trip inside the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class you're complaining about comfort, you'd better be concerned—as it truly doesn't get much better than this, in any new vehicle, at any price. 

The cabin appointments in the S-Class are spacious, beautiful, well-made, and visually impressive. And it's the sort of interior that doesn't offend; it's one that appeals to those of vastly different aesthetic tastes—and yes, there's plenty of room to add some garish details in if you really must.

Fit, finish, and materials quality of the 2016 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.

Those seats themselves, in front, are superb. With wide, long cushions and ample adjustability, they take the high middle ground between plush and supportive. And at least in the sedan, the outboard back-seat positions are equally spacious and comfortable

In the coupe, the lower roofline and the way it tapers near the back altogether takes a bit of space, but the materials are still just as opulent and the surfaces just as lavish. Shoulder, elbow, and hip room are ample.

For those who plan to be chauffeured—or to pamper your passengers—there's a rear bucket-seat option, as well as 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. In that setup, the front passenger seat headrest can be removed, with the seat back reclined, forming a chaise-style lounge nap space.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Safety

The S-Class has long been a safety leader with some of the most advanced active-safety systems on the market such as night vision, lead/follow cruise control, and inflatable rear seatbelts.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class hasn't been rated by either of the U.S. agencies that conduct crash-testing. Yet, we count this model as one of the safest picks on the market.

Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have tested an S-Class of the current generation; and with this model's very high prices and relatively low sales volume, they're unlikely to.

A high price tag may keep the S-Class models away from the crash labs, yet most other current models from Mercedes and those in the recent past have performed very well. And the S-Class, as it always has been, is the launch module for some of the world's top active-safety features and occupant protection systems.

Some of the many items that are standard on the S-Class include inflatable rear seat belts; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; adaptive brake lights; adaptive head restraints, dual front, front side, and rear side airbags; and curtain airbags. And Pre-Safe, which locks doors and tightens seatbelts when a collision is imminent and prepares the brakes for full-force application.

Other optional equipment 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; and a parking assist system.

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10

2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Features

Superb Burmester audio, in-car perfumes, and supportive, massage seats are just a few of the true luxury items available in the S-Class lineup.

The Mercedes-Benz S Class has never been short on features and equipment, and the current model is even better than ever in helping you feel connected when you want it, cosseted when you're getting away.

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/satellite 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.

That covers all the basics that a plush luxury flagship should, at minimum, but with its level of extensive technology integration, the S-Class sedan offers a full rolling business environment. Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system is the interface to access audio, phone, navigation, and climate control, 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 3-D surround sound; a mid-level Burmester sound system with standard surround sound; and the default audio system, a 10-speaker Harman unit.

Two 12.3-inch high-resolution screens control all of those features. 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.

On the new S-Class Cabriolet, you'll find many of the same features, but most notably the excellent AirScarf neck-level heating system—a must for any chilly spring or fall day when you want to put the top down.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Fuel Economy

The new 2016 S550e Plug-In Hybrid is the efficiency leader of the lineup; it balances out the other models that aren't so mileage-minded.

Most of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup is relatively fuel-efficient, for what it is, yet it's the new S550e Plug-In Hybrid that carries the green banner for the lineup.

The primary gasoline version in the lineup, the S550, scores 17 mpg city, 26 highway, 20 combined, according to the EPA. Add 4Matic all-wheel drive and the score drops just slightly to 16/26/19 mpg for the sedan; the S550 4Matic Coupe rates 16/24/19 mpg.

Go for the S600, and gas mileage drops to just 14/21/16 mpg.

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.

The S550e Plug-In Hybrid earns 26 mpg combined according to the EPA, and it will go 12 miles on electricity alone or 14 on a combination of charged energy plus the gasoline engine. It's powered by a trunk-mounted 8.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack (of which 6.4 kwh is usable), as well as a turbocharged V-6.

A Bluetec diesel version of the S-Class is still expected, but Mercedes-Benz hasn't yet said when it will go on sale.

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September 4, 2016
For 2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class

The best I've ever owned in My 83 Heard.

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Elegant, smooth And finely finished. The power and quickness aré suprising. I love shocking The Mustang diversas with The aceleración.
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June 12, 2016
2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan Maybach S 600 RWD

comfortable

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Very easy to handly comfortable and fast movement .
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June 12, 2016
2016 Mercedes-Benz S Class 4-Door Sedan Maybach S 600 RWD

comfortable

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Very easy to handly comfortable and fast movement .
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Styling 9
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 10
Safety 8
Features 10
Fuel Economy 6
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