Mercedes S-Class (2013-2020) Review

The Mercedes S-Class is a supremely comfortable and capable luxury car that, in diesel-powered form, is reasonably economical, too

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Very relaxing
  • Well equipped as standard
  • Efficient diesel engines
  • Wheel sizes hurt fuel economy
  • Hybrid petrol compromised and expensive
  • Private hire image
Mercedes-Benz S Class prices from £21,395.
Finance from £555.10 / month.

The S-Class is a byword for luxury. Unfortunately, its success with chauffeur-drive fleets mean it has a corporate image.

Not that this takes anything away from the S-Class' achievements. The current model is the sixth generation, so Mercedes has had a long time to get the recipe exactly right.

It starts with a stylish but restrained design that hits its target market perfectly. Rather than waste time offering numerous trim levels, it makes do with just one: AMG Line. It ensures all versions, from the entry-level 350d standard wheelbase to the AMG 65, look and feel the part.

Only the 350d is available in standard and long wheelbase lengths. All other versions are long wheelbase only; evidence once more that Mercedes truly understands this market.

The S-Class’ extra space is reserved for the rear interior where most customers spend their time. 

Naturally, the S-Class is a roomy car. Long wheelbase versions (most are bought in this length) have an extra 130mm in the rear so passengers can really stretch out. Most versions have three seats as standard in the back but can be specified with two individual ones. The 510-litre boot will swallow suitcases but note that the plug-in hybrid loses some space to its battery.

It’s powered by a choice of petrol and diesel engines but our pick is the entry-level 350d diesel for its smooth power delivery, strong overtaking punch and impressive economy. If you want a little more muscle go for the 400d.

In fact the diesels are so good it’s tempting to question the relevance of the petrol models. They’re powerful but you pay at the fuel pumps. There’s a new plug-in hybrid but it’s expensive and of relevance only to inner city chauffeurs. The sporty AMG 63 and 65 are flying machines that take the S-Class to a whole other market.

On the road, the S-Class is effortlessly comfortable and refined. It’s a big car but it steers well and corners securely.

Select Sport mode and the suspension stiffens sufficiently for you to be able to press on through corners with gusto. If you want an even better experience, specify the optional Magic Ride system that ‘reads the road ahead and in a blink, adjusts the suspension to deal with bumps and irregularities.

Direct rivals include the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ but it also takes on the Range Rover, the Bentley Bentayga and Flying Spur and even the Rolls-Royce Ghost.


Key facts

Warranty 3 years
Boot size 510 litres
Width 1899mm
Lenght 5125mm
Height 1493mm
Tax (min to max) £25 to £2135 in the first year; £465 from the second.

Best Mercedes-Benz S Class for...

Best for Economy – Mercedes S350d AMG Line

With up to 44.1mpg possible, but only on the smaller 19in alloys, this is the most economical version. Choosing it in standard wheelbase form keeps the price down, too. The 400d is just as economical but more expensive.

Best for Performance – Mercedes-AMG S65

This most powerful S-Class rockets from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds. However, its stablemate, the slightly less powerful 63, is only a tenth of a second slower but £61,000 cheaper.

One to Avoid – Mercedes-AMG S450 and 500

The diesel versions are so good and so efficient that it’s hard to make a case for these petrol powered ones. At least the Mercedes-AMG S63 and 65 models have performance and exclusivity on their side.


2014: Model launched with optional Magic Ride that reads the road surface and adjusts the suspension to suit. Engines include flagship S600 V12 petrol and S500 plug-in hybrid petrol. Launch S300 diesel is underpowered and noisy at times.
2017: Facelifted with new equipment and a fresh look, plus V6 350d engine replaced by a straight-six.
2018: S500L EQ launched with additional 22hp starter generator. Now just badged 500.
2019: Engine range trimmed and new, more representative WLTP economy figures released. Also, 560e EQ Power joins the range.

Understanding Mercedes-Benz S Class names

Engines 350d

This number is a guide to the power of the engine but no more. In fact, in this example, the engine is a 3.0 litre producing 286hp. The ‘d’ means it’s a diesel engine (the petrols have no identifying letter).

Trims AMG Line

This is the core equipment level. With the exception of the Mercedes-AMG versions, all S-Class models are AMG Line specification. Those with the letter ‘L’ following, as in AMG Line L, are long wheelbase models with extra rear interior space.

Equipment line Premium Plus

These are like option packs you can add to AMG Line to give the car even more luxury.

Mercedes-Benz S Class Engines

Diesel: 350d, 400d Petrol: 450, 500, AMG 63, AMG 65 Hybrid: 560 e EQ Power

The diesel engines in the S-Class are so good, it’s hard to make a case for the petrols unless, either, you own an oil field or you want the performance of the sporty Mercedes-AMG versions.

The engine numbers are a clue only to the engines’ power outputs and not to their size. So, for example, the 350d is actually a 3.0 litre producing 286hp, while the 400d is also a 3.0 litre but produces 340hp.

The entry-level 350d is our pick for its blend of economy, power and smoothness. The 400d is as economical but more powerful, However, it’s also £7000 more expensive because it’s only available in the long wheelbase body.

The economy figures of all the engines, diesel and petrol, are influenced by the size of the wheels fitted to the car, which explains the ranges in our table below. However, they’re small differences and unlikely to concern most buyers.

The petrol engines are more powerful and slightly quicker – although the diesels can probably outrun them in an overtaking situation – but much less economical. If that last fact concerns you, then the 560e EQ Power, a plug-in hybrid might be of interest. Its economy and emissions figures are impressive, helped by the fact that it can travel under electric power alone for up to 25 miles. It’s quick but the battery takes as much as 1.5 hours to recharge at a recharging point. It’s stored in the boot where it takes up 115 litres of space. The 560e costs £23,000 more than the economical S350, partly because it’s a long wheelbase model. Really, it’s more suitable for inner-city chauffeur operators looking to avoid emissions charges.

If performance is your thing, look no further than the Mercedes-AMG 63 and 65 models. These are thoroughly engineered performance derivatives and not just go-faster models – but they come at a price.



Fuel economy



Top speed





0-62mph: 6.0s






0-62mph: 5.4s






0-62mph: 5.1s






0-62mph: 4.8s


560 e EQ Power

Plug-in petrol hybrid



0-62mph: 5.0s


AMG 63




0-62mph: 4.3s


AMG 65




0-62mph: 4.2s


Mercedes-Benz S Class Trims

AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus, AMG Line Executive, AMG Line Executive Premium, AMG Line Executive Premium Plus

Sensibly, given the S-class’s status as a luxury car, Mercedes makes it available in just one core, well-equipped trim. It’s called AMG Line and is available on short and long-wheelbase cars. It has everything a high-flying passenger could wish for but the driver is also well looked after. Features include a pair of 12.3-inch screens and an infotainment system with a sat nav, a digital radio and a Wi-Fi hot spot. There’s an active parking system and LED headlights and the cabin is trimmed in leather.

You can add even more luxury with equipment lines called Premium and Premium Plus. The former costs an additional £3995 and brings a panoramic sunroof, door and bootlid closing aids, and nappa leather upholstery. Premium Plus costs £6695 and adds these plus a fragrance system, an uprated Burmester sound system and comfort features including massage seats.

If that's not all, Executive, which can be combined with the above and which costs £4600, enhances life in the rear of the car with features including increased backrest angles, roller blinds and Thermotronic luxury climate control.


Mercedes-Benz S Class Reliability and warranty

The S-Class is backed by Mercedes’ standard three-year/unlimited mileage warranty. Given the privileged life the model is likely to lead before being disposed of to make way for a new one, it’s reasonable enough but hardly a ringing endorsement of its reliability and quality. That said, you’ve only to experience a journey in an S-Class to know that neither is likely to be an issue.

The model didn't feature in the latest Auto Express Driver Power 2019 owner satisfaction survey. However, its smaller sister car the C-Class did, when, alarmingly,  it charted second from bottom out of 75 cars.

Used Mercedes-Benz S Class

Not even an S-Class is immune to the ravages of depreciation. Add the fact that most lead pampered lives and they make great used car buyers.

For example, as this was written, BuyaCar was listing a year-old S350d L AMG Line Premium Plus with 11,000 miles for £52,000, or £33,000 less than the current new price, a saving of 40%.

This version being the pick of the line-up, we can only assume that more expensive and less economical ones will be even better value.