By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
While many luxury cars claim to be the envy of the world’s elite, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class earns this accolade without any need for clever ads or celebrity endorsements. CEOs and heads of state the world over are attracted by the S-Class’ power, sophistication and attention to detail. While cars like the BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS are impressive, they always seem to be one step behind the S-Class. The big Benz’s technology, driver-assist aids and luxury trappings are second to none, justification enough for its nearly $100,000 base price. In its most elite form, the V12-powered AMG S65 impresses beyond reason, while the eco-friendly super rich can opt for the S550e plug-in hybrid.
If your position in life demands driving the best, but you prefer subtle sophistication to flashy flamboyance, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan is your ride. Powerful, plush and packed with the latest automotive technology, this big sedan and 2-door coupe make a statement like no other.
There are no major changes to the Mercedes Benz S-Class for 2016. The AMG nameplate is now a prefix as opposed to a suffix.
Because of the extensive use of aluminum throughout its body, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan feels surprisingly light on its feet, especially given its rather ponderous size. The big...
... Mercedes feels solid and hunkered down, a fact that helps MB’s engineers isolate almost all wind and road noise from the spacious cabin. The Airmatic cushion suspension features adaptive dampening that continually adjusts the car’s suspension to deal with road surface variations, delivering a ride that is firm but never jarring. Even the base twin-turbocharged V8-equipped S550 is a powerful beast, capable of accelerating to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Mercedes-Benz’s 7-speed automatic transmission is a model for all to follow, delivering seamless and instantaneous shifts. At the other end of the S-Class spectrum are the AMG S63 4Matic and the AMG S65, the latter delivering 621 horsepower and every weapon in the Mercedes-Benz luxury arsenal.
MAGIC BODY CONTROL + ROAD-SURFACE SCAN
On rear-drive S-Class models, a stereoscopic camera “reads” the road and automatically adjusts the suspension to adapt in just milliseconds. Even the most extreme road imperfections are dismissed with haste.
CIRCUS-QUALITY DAY-SPA OPTIONS
True luxury means delivering features unheard of in other cars, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class for 2016 delivers such luxury in spades. From its hot-stone massage setting on the multi-contour massaging seats to the glove-box-mounted fragrance atomizer; it’s like sitting in a rolling day spa.
The cabin in the 2016 S-Class sedan from Mercedes-Benz goes far beyond the obligatory wood and leather trim. It delivers a level of detail, such as the heated armrests, that places an emphasis on passenger comfort. Technology is also on wide display, from twin 12.3-inch high-resolution color screens that relay driving information and infotainment to copious LED lighting. The best proof is the available executive seating packages, which trade the 3-across bench for a pair of lounge-like, power-operated reclining seats. It's like first class on four wheels. Coupes offer generous seating fore and aft for up to four passengers.
With a tastefully sweeping rear, the 2016 MB S-Class executive sedan is endowed with some of the coupe-like design cues from the 1st-generation CLS to portray a fastback profile. From the blown-back shape of the headlights to the elegant flow of the C-pillar and the converging crease-lines in the profile, the S-Class feels low-slung and finessed without sacrificing any interior roominess or room in the trunk, which holds a generous 16.3 cubic feet of cargo. S600 and AMG variants are distinguished by their dual-tipped exhaust outlets. The coupe version, which rides on a shorter 116-inch wheelbase, is a true pillarless hardtop.
As expected on a car whose price can equal that of a house, standard equipment takes on new meaning in an S-Class, with features that would either be optional or unavailable in other cars. Among the standouts are 16-way-power front seats, 13-speaker Burmester audio system (audiophiles just smiled), navigation system and power rear sunshade. Oh, and we mustn't forget the in-cabin fragrance system that uses replaceable vials of differing aromas. Also standard are all manner of highly advanced safety systems, including autonomous braking at speeds up to 65 mph. Another standard S-Class feature is 24-hour roadside assistance that never expires.
Options for MB’s 2016 S-Class range from the self-indulgent (the massaging, climate-controlled front seats we've personally enjoyed) to the next generation of safe (infrared nighttime-vision display and Distronic Plus with radar-based cruise control and autonomous steering to keep you within lanes). In between are even higher-grade leather seats with headrests so soft they feel like pillows, 4-zone climate control and the mbrace Plus with apps and access to a Mercedes-Benz concierge. For VIPs buying an S-Class sedan for the rear seats, there's the executive seating package, rear-cabin refrigerator, dual-screen entertainment system and power side shades for added privacy.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan models for 2016 come in four variations on the twin-turbocharged V8 or V12 theme, while the coupes offer three variants. The S550 uses a twin-turbocharged V8 that makes 449 horsepower and is linked to a sublime 7-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is the standard setup, while optional all-wheel drive (AWD) 4Matic is standard on the coupe. The S600 Sedan employs a twin-turbo V12 rated at 523 horsepower and is rear-drive only, as are the AMG S65 Sedan and Coupe, which use an AMG-built version of the same engine making 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. AMG models are also represented by the AMG S63 sedan and coupe that use a 577-horsepower V8 and are AWD only.
4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (S550, S550 4Matic)
449 horsepower @ 5,250-5,550 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 mpg (Sedan, RWD), 16/26 mpg (Sedan, AWD), 16/24 mpg (Coupe)
3.0-liter biturbo V6/electric-assist motor (S550e)
329/116 horsepower (436 combined)
354/251 lb-ft of torque (470 lb-ft combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA
6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 (S600)
523 horsepower @ 4,900-5,300 rpm
612 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/21 mpg
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (AMG S63 4Matic)
577 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
664 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 (AMG S65)
621 horsepower @ 4,800-5,400 rpm
738 lb-ft of torque @ 2,300-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/20 mpg
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $96,500 for an S550, or $3,000 more for an all-wheel-drive 4Matic model. The performance-oriented AMG S63 V8 rings in over $144,000, while the V12-powered S600 starts just under $172,000. The most expensive S-Class is the AMG S65 Sedan at nearly $228,000 – before options. Coupes start just under $122,500 for the S550 4Matic and top out at about $237,000 for an AMG S65. At these prices, the 2016 S-Class sedan costs thousands to tens of thousands more than rivals like a V8-powered BMW 7 Series or Audi A8 (starting around $89,000 and $87,000, respectively). To see what S-Class buyers in your area are paying, check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price. Over time, the S-Class is expected to hold its value better than its German rivals, but not quite as well as the Lexus LS 460.