In our first drive of the new S-Class, we reckoned that it was easily the best car in its segment. However, that version had a 450bhp petrol engine, while this is the more sober 255bhp diesel variant. So, does it still occupy its rightful place on the throne – despite the diesel?
I was completely smitten by the new S-Class when I drove it a couple of months ago, and I have to admit that this is definitely the car to buy in the connoisseur segment. After an in-depth of the petrol variant’s abilities not so long ago, I must confess that it’ll be a challenge for me to give you the low down on the S350 CDI without repeating myself.
Mercedes-Benz ensured that they left no stone unturned, and this is why the new S Class – in both petrol and diesel guise – is the best luxury car in its category. Starting from the design, to the interior quality, fit-and-finish, and equipment levels, it’s a car that’s a force to be reckoned with. The combination of luxury, ease of driving, and the lounge like cabin are simply a class apart – the current competition doesn’t even come close to this German leviathan.
However, the new S350 CDI plays a far more important role in Mercedes Benz’s India lineup than the S500. The reasons are quite simple. Firstly, it costs far less than the petrol version, thereby widening the target set of consumers, and, secondly, in a country where luxury automobile customers are exclusively chauffeur driven, the S500 makes little sense to a buyer. So, expect the majority of sales of the S-Class to be of the diesel variant.
But, one valid question pops to mind, how is the diesel S-Class to drive when you do actually decide to get behind the wheel? Well, given how capable the chassis and suspension is, the S diesel is a very capable car to drive. The 3-litre diesel engine produces 255bhp and 620Nm, which means that despite its two-tonne plus weight, it still manages to hit the 100km/h mark in just 6.8 seconds, which is plenty quick. While the 7-speed automatic gearbox is still a bit lazy, with the large amount of torque and the flexibility of the engine, the diesel feels fast enough for our conditions. Sure, the diesel engine’s humming sound is hardly music to your ears like the V8 rumble of the S500, but, in most conditions, the engine is hardly audible inside the cabin. But, then again, it does also have the Burmester sound system, which contributes multi-fold in drowning out unwanted noise.
As far as the driving appeal goes, as one would guess that the S in CDI trim is more of a passenger’s car rather than a driver oriented one. Sure, the acceleration is more than adequate for everyday use, and the air suspension does wonders for the cars ride and handling, but, above all, the concentration of features is meant for the passenger rather than the driver.
Of course, the single biggest attraction of the S remains the fantastic passenger comfort and the rear seat room – and, to top it off, it comes with bucket loads of new features. The rear seats, even on this version, come with a massaging function – and, of course, acres of room. The rear mounted video screens have their own inputs, and come with wireless headphones. Above all, the S retains that all-important sense that the occupants are served with palatial levels of luxury and comfort.
So, safe in the knowledge that both versions of the S are highly capable, which one would I buy? Well, the natural reaction would be to choose the S500. But, honestly, this pipe dream is purely fictional – of course! Realistically speaking, then, the S350 CDI offers more than enough luxury for the best of us. And given the price tag – which is Rs. 30 lakhs less than the S500 – the diesel version of the S class is a no-brainer for even the most discerning luxury buyer.
- MERC S350 CDI
Engine: 2,987cc / 6 Cylinders / Turbocharged
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 255bhp @ 3600rpm
Torque: 620nm @ 1800-2400 rpm
Price: Rs 1.09 Crores (Ex-Showroom)