Smooth, swift and as quiet as a crypt - luxury saloons don't get any better than this
Very minimalist: Comand system reduces the number of controls but could be easier to use
Everything you'd expect and more, including a system to detect if you're dropping off
Lovingly put together by experts, using the best possible materials. Merc owners are a happy lot
So much room, you'll be hard-pushed to fill it
Basic cars have lots of kit, but you can add infrared headlights and radar-operated cruise control
Imagine reclining in splendour in a presidential suite at The Hyatt. Now imagine that suite gliding along on four wheels: that's what it feels like driving the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It's smooth, swift and incredibly civilised. And, despite its size, it moves with the grace and agility of a gazelle. The suspension adjusts itself to suit the road surface, the body doesn't roll and the steering is very responsive. Keep a close eye on the speedo, though: the engine is so quiet, you won't realise just how fast you're going. The V8 petrols are fast, but the S350 CDI diesel will cost you less at the pump.
The sparkling aluminium, mirror-polished wood and sumptuous leather trim are a tactile treat. You get a clever Comand system in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class: one dial controls everything from stereo to sat-nav, which you can see on a colour screen similar to the BMW iDrive and Audi's MMI. Optional mod cons include radar-operated cruise control which does the braking and accelerating for you in stop-start traffic, and infrared headlights which make it easier to see at night. Passengers will be able to stretch out and relax comfortably in the back and there's room for 560 litres of luggage - a lot more than in a BMW 7 Series or Audi A8.
The S-Class will do everything in its power to keep you safe - including warning you if it thinks you're getting sleepy or steering the car out of danger if you drift out of your lane.
Reliability should be good based on Mercedes' recent record, and Merc owners are a satisfied bunch according to the JD Power customer survey.
For a large, luxury car with this much power, the S-Class is surprisingly efficient. The diesel engine will be the most popular, and it claims an average of 45.6mpg and emits just 164g/km CO2, which puts it into the respectable 26% band for company car tax. It'll also hold its value much more strongly than its rivals, so if you're looking for a large luxury saloon car, this is the one to go for.