The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the benchmark for luxury sedans. The Mercedes S550 and S600 are superb automobiles. The S-Class cabins are among the most beautiful interior executions on the market today. These cars are loaded with technology yet the COMAND system is easier to operate than the systems from BMW and Audi. Underway, the S-Class cars are smooth, quiet, and powerful.
The S-Class is made up of the S550 models, which come with a V8 engine, and the S600, which comes with a turbocharged V12. The S550 4MATIC adds the all-weather capability of all-wheel drive. Two AMG versions bring racecar performance to this big luxury sedan.
All of them boast quick acceleration and are comfortable and stable at high speeds. Performance goes up with the more powerful engines, of course. The S600 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 4.5 seconds, according to Mercedes, which is very quick indeed.
These cars handle remarkably well for big luxury sedans. They are responsive but not darty. The Airmatic air suspension system is tuned toward the sportier end of the spectrum. The Automatic Body Control active suspension option cuts body roll significantly, and you can really feel it working when you throw the car into a fast, sweeping downhill curve. And we found the Brake Assist Plus brakes spectacular in their stopping power and stopping distance performance.
For 2009, all S-Class models get heated and active-ventilated front seats, a wood-and-leather steering wheel, a power trunk lid, shift paddles (replacing smaller buttons) on the steering wheel, and push-pull power window switches. The optional Distronic Plus cruise control now includes Blind Spot Assist and radar-type Park Assist. And new 18-inch alloy wheels with seven double spokes enhance the look of the base S550. The current generation dates from 2007, when the S-Class was completely redesigned with larger dimensions all around and dramatic fender flares that make the big Benz look aggressive.
S550 models are powered by a 5.5-liter V8 and come with a seven-speed automatic transmission; the 4MATIC adds all-wheel drive. The S600 is powered by a 5.5-liter 3-valve V12 twin-turbo engine connected to a heavy-duty five-speed auto. The federal Gas Guzzler Tax adds $1,000 to the S550, $1,300 to the S550 4MATIC, and $3,000 to the S600. The S63 AMG is powered by a 6.2-liter V8, while the S65 AMG features a 6.0-liter V12.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is composed of the S550 ($89,350), the S550 4MATIC ($92,350), and the S600 ($147,450); the S63 AMG ($131,350) and the S65 AMG ($198,950).
Standard features on the S550 include leather upholstery, a navigation system with voice recognition, heated 14-way power front seats with lumbar, heated power mirrors, Harman/Kardon 14-speaker, six-disc audio system with weatherband, satellite radio, front/rear illuminated vanity mirrors, sunroof,. Also standard are active bi-xenon headlamps which illuminate around corners, and cornering fog lamps that illuminate the front corner areas of the car, as well as automatic shock-absorber adjustment and a load/height adjustable suspension. Added for 2009 are heated and active-ventilated front seats, a power trunk lid (that is, last year’s Premium I package), a wood-and-leather steering wheel, and push-pull-style power window switches. Both S550 models ride on 255/45HR18 tires.
The Premium II package ($2,030) adds Parktronic parking assist, a rear-view monitor, and Keyless Go entry and starting. Premium III ($4,990) includes the contents of Premium II plus infrared Night View Assist and Drive Dynamic multi-contoured front seats with massage. Stand-alone options include Distronic Plus cruise control ($2,880), power sunblinds for the rear side windows ($720), a panorama sunroof ($1,050), Active Body Control suspension ($3,960), heated steering wheel ($470), and a power-adjustable and climate-controlled rear seat ($2,950). Additionally, there’s an AMG Sport package with 19 inch wheels, exhaust tips and body moldings ($5,690).
The S600 makes most of this equipment standard; in fact, the only options on the S600 are an iPod integration kit ($425), Bluetooth interface ($300), illuminated door sills ($950), and 19-inch wheels ($1,230).
AMG models include upgraded brakes, sport active suspension, 255/35ZR20 front tires, 275/35ZR20 rear tires, heated/ventilated and massaging front seats with automatic side bolsters, power side shades and trunk closing.
Safety features are unequalled in the class, with all the usual brake and airbag technology and Pre-Safe accident-readiness equipment made standard. Brake Assist Plus is fully integrated with Parktronic and Distronic, respectively the radar-controlled parking and distance-controlling cruise control systems. The system has two forward-facing radar systems, and can apply the brakes at any speed from zero up to about 125 mph and bring the car to a full stop without driver input. In addition to closing the sunroof, windows and repositioning the seat in the event of an impending collision, PreSafe also has air chambers in the backs of the multi-contour bucket seats that inflate to add support to the upper body in case of a rear-ender.
Night View Assist uses infrared headlamps and a tiny camera to project clear, sharp images of what's ahead of the car at night. The picture is displayed in the space normally occupied by the speedometer and tachometer, which change to bar graphs underneath the night vision display when it's activated. Unlike thermal systems, the Mercedes system uses a sharper display that can operate unaffected by temperature extremes.