The S-Class is Mercedes-Benz's flagship sedan. Like the Jaguar, it represents a luxury lineage that dates back decades, embodying all the trappings of heritage, privilege and excellence. There are four S-Class sedans from which to choose: the S430, S500, S600 and S55 AMG. The S55 AMG is a high-performance version of the S-Class tuned by famed automotive works AMG. The S430 and S500 sedans are powered by V8 engines while the S600s possess a massive V12. As far as performance goes, all of the engines are capable of moving the S-Class with easeit's just a matter of how fast you want your fast car to go. We tested the S500, which we think offers the best combination of luxury, power and affordability. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic that can be switched to a clutchless Touch Shift mode, should you feel the need to shift your own gears. All S-Class sedans feature Electronic Stability Program (ESP), curtain side airbags and a door-mounted side airbag in each of the four doors.
The S500's interior leaves little doubt you're inside a Mercedes-Benz automobile. The stunning curved dash flows before you with ribbon-like grace, accentuated by a slim insert of genuine Burl Walnut wood trim. Electric assists make sure the trunk and doors are properly sealed, the side-glass windows are double paned to reduce wind noise, air bladders replace shock absorbers for a smoother ride and the adaptive cruise control can maintain a set distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Of course, all the proper luxury touches are in place, from the one-touch up/down windows, to the ambient lighting, to the infrared ignition switch that replaces the traditional metal key; the S500 is designed to pamper and impress. Need more? OKafter all, you're paying for it. How about a Bose sound system so sophisticated it can be adjusted to compensate for the number of passengers in the car or a Tele Aid system that alerts authorities when the vehicle's airbags deploy. With the exception of the overly-complicated touch screen navigation system into which the audio and telephone controls are also integratedeverything in the S500's interior works simply, logically and without effort.
On the road, the S-Class handles remarkably well for a car of its size and weightevidence of Mercedes-Benz engineering prowess. You may find the steering wheel to have a slight hint of over assist, but not to the point of feeling vague or disconnected from the road. The long wheelbase and sophisticated active suspension system combine to provide a smooth ride and responsive chassis, a combination often sought after but rarely attained in a full-size sedan.