Tech-packed Mercedes-Benz S350 is the best car in the world

Mercedes S-Class

New meaning to the saying back-seat driver

In-car ents

If that's two techs that are really impressive but perhaps not entirely practical, Mercedes has nailed the core functionality. For instance, the S-Class has dual 12.3-inch HD LCD displays up front.

One acts as a virtual instrument cluster for the driver. The other is a general multimedia and telematics display, which includes Mercedes' COMAND Online Infotainment. Both are glorious.

Mercedes S-Class

The apps aren't so awesome

As for the actual functionality, well, pretty much everything is covered. There's good old CD playback, generic USB, Bluetooth and iPod/iPhone support, again via USB. Oh and DAB radio.

Our test car had the full rear seat package with screens for each passenger and an IR remote that allowed access to the full multimedia system. It's a bit like the sort of in-flight rig you get on airliners in business and first class. Just a whole lot better.

The S-Class also offers integrated 3G connectivity, support a wide range of functionality. The good bits are the internet radio and online search for the navigation. The bad bits are the apps and web browser.

Mercedes S-Class

The built-in web browser is a bit borked

Borked web browser

The browser is awful. Clunky, slow and low on compatibility for modern websites. You are far better off hooking up your tablet to the car's in-built wi-fi hotspot and browsing the web properly. As for the apps, largely the same applies. There's no real reason why you'd want to login in to facebook with the slow, compromised app when your phone and tablet will do it so much better.

Other downsides? The frame rate in the 3D nav isn't good enough. Mercedes needs to upgrade the CPU or graphics, whichever it is that's bottlenecking performance.

And if you want some really old school whinging, even this most awesome S-Class lacks the material quality and sense of engineering integrity of the great 1980s Mercedes. In truth, such cars are gone, never to return.

Style-wise, this is hardly a return to traditional, understated elegance. At least, certainly not painted hip-hop white.

The V6 diesel motor in our S350 BlueTEC is nothing special, either. It's not a bad lump. But Audi's V6 diesel is significantly more responsive, powerful and sounds better to boot.

Mercedes S-Class

Think first-class luxury airliner and you won't be far wrong

The sum of greatness

Now, all of this sounds like a bit of a mixed bag. But the point is that the S-Class does most of the important things really well. The screens look glorious, the interface is mostly great to use.

The optional 1,540W Burmester sound system also deserves a mention. It might just be the best we've experienced. It's capable of colossal volume levels without any distortion and without any unwanted rattles or zings from the cabin and trim. It's incredible.

The driver aids are wonderful, too. The smart cruise is a delight and the 360 degree cameras make a big difference when it comes to maneouvering what is a positively massive 5.2-metre luxury barge.

But the thing that will really win over potential customers to the new S-Class is the world beating combination of opulence and serenity. This is surely the best motorway cruiser ever built. So smooth, so comfortable and yet also precise to drive and dynamically transparent.

Where most big luxury cars now feel synthetic and disconnected to drive, the new S somehow manages to be natural and direct all the while it insulates you from nearly all the negative sensations involved with driving down a road. And our test car didn't even have the optional Magic Ride system that scans the road ahead and primes the suspension for bumps and ruts.

Mercedes S-Class

Seriously Salubrious: The new S-Class is stupendously serene

Benz is back

Other makes do flashier, showier, superficially more desirable luxury cars. For some, a big Benz simply won't have the cachet of, say, a Bentley.

But give the S a chance and eventually you'll realise it must surely be the most dynamically resolved big car ever. If the task is travelling in maximum serenity, this must be the most salubrious motor vehicle yet concieved by man.

Is Benz best once again? Not for quite the same reasons it used to be. But the answer is almost definitely yes.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is on sale now from £62,905 in the UK and $92,900 in the USA. Our S350 BlueTEC was £95,990 including options.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.