Car Review: The updated Mercedes-Benz S-Class retains its hold in the luxury automobile market

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Mild updates to the luxury sedan keep it at the top of its automotive game.

It is perhaps somewhat ironic that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, arguably the car with the least claim to sporting pretensions in the carmaker’s vast model range (AMG models excepted), is its most dynamically rounded.

Now, I say “rounded”, not “accomplished”, because a long 3,165mm wheelbase, two-tonne kerb weight and ride that errs on the pillowy means it won’t be setting any lap records. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to make a darn good attempt at it.

It feels exceptionally rapid for what it is and the numbers on its specs sheet seem to back it up – in S450L guise, its three-litre twin-turbo V6 produces 363bhp/500Nm and it’ll get from rest to 100km/hr in a claimed 5.4 seconds.

But it isn’t just the engine that makes the Mercedes-Benz S-Class great. It’s the way the chassis remains completely unflustered and eager to please no matter what you’re doing to it.

The automotive equivalent of a golden retriever, if you will.

Whether being thrashed, cruising the highways or doing a grocery run, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is happy doing it all. Admittedly, it does struggle if you ask too much of it, especially if the wheel (the approximate size of a hula hoop and with a slow ratio) is sawed hard, but then again, this is a limousine not a sports car.

Perhaps it was the two absolutely dismal cars that came before this current Mercedes-Benz S-Class that’s inflated my opinion of the current-generation one, but anyway.

All that, though, isn’t news. All that has been around since the current-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class hit Singapore roads in 2014. The one I’ve driven around for an extremely enjoyable few days has been the recipient of the mildest of mid-life refreshes.

Its styling has barely changed pre-facelift – you’ll really have to squint hard to notice the reworked grille, headlights and tail lights. It’s the same story on the inside, with a dashboard-spanning screen integrating the instrument cluster and infotainment system still taking centre stage.

There are some new features buried in the (rather convoluted) infotainment system menus, however. The interior ambient lighting now has a range of 64 selectable colours, up from the handful before. This means you can illuminate the interior of your new Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a host of colours including slime green, neon lavender and highlighter yellow.

The updated Mercedes-Benz S-Class also brings with it Energising Comfort Control, which can turn the car into a mobile spa using pre-recorded audio tracks, the interior ambient lighting and the air-conditioning system’s scent dispenser.

WIth all that, it might lead some to conclude that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is functionally unchanged and updates are, well, kind of pointless. While illuminating your car’s cockpit in lurid shades and perfuming it with a scent that calls to mind a cool morning on the beach is great, it’s also rather gimmicky.

And yet, it could also be argued that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class doesn’t need any changes made to it. I’d go so far as to say Mercedes-Benz could simply have left it exactly the way it is and it would still have been fine.

Gimmicks aside, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still the one to beat in its segment. And that’s something that couldn’t be said about it for a good long while until now.