Even in a market crowded with excellent vehicles, some models just stand out as the ones by which all others in their class are inevitably judged against. When it comes to full-size luxury sedans, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the one that sets the benchmark. There are plenty of imitators, and some are very good indeed, but the S-Class remains preeminent in its class.
Of course, the sedan is only part of the story these days. The S-Class now also comes in coupe and even convertible body styles. While the sedan is the body style the S-Class is famed for, it’s impossible to overlook how the car is transformed into something else altogether in those sportier, yet just as luxurious incarnations. Let’s take a closer look at what all the fuss is about and see if the car is still as good as its reputation suggests.
In its sedan body style, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class isn’t the most cutting-edge, outlandish, or sporty full-size sedan on the market. But just like some of the world’s top supermodels are rarely seen with a ton of makeup on, the S-Class is one of those cars that doesn’t have to try too hard. So it doesn’t. The styling is quite clever because it doesn’t emphasize the car’s size, and it doesn’t appear a great deal bigger than the E-Class. Everything about the lines, creases, lights, and trim is subtle, which is exactly how it should be with a car of this status.
The S-Class Coupe could be taken for an entirely different model from the sedan. Instead of just replacing the sedan’s slightly bulky rear-end with a sloping roofline that runs into a sleek trunk, the coupe also gets different light arrangements and a smaller, sportier front grille. It’s actually quite incredible how Mercedes has managed to transform the elegant and serious S-Class sedan into something as sleek, stunning, and sexy as the S-Class Coupe, with relatively few changes.
While the sedan and coupe versions of the 2019 S-Class look noticeably different, the convertible is basically a coupe with the roof replaced by a folding vinyl cover. And quite honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Quite simply, the S-Class Cabriolet has to be one of the most beautiful and desirable cars in the world today, and that includes the likes of the Ferrari 458 drop-top too.
There’s no such thing as a moderately powered S-Class, but there’s still a wide choice of powertrains available. The entry point is the S450 that’s powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that puts out 362 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s right, an entry-level powertrain that gets a full-size luxury sedan packed with features, equipment, and luxury from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, and that’s just the start.
It’s hard to imagine anyone being in any way disappointed with the V-6, that is until they experience the rest of the engines in the lineup. Next up is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo boasting 463 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque, which sounds as good as you’d expect and can get the coupe to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Then we get to the AMG models, and this is where things start to get really serious with the S-Class. The S63 features a version of that twin-turbo V-8 that’s tuned to develops 603 hp and 664 lb.-ft. of torque, and then you have 60 mph arriving in just 3.4 seconds. For some reason, even that’s not enough for some people, so Mercedes also gives us the S65 with the total lunacy of a 6.0-liter V-12 twin-turbo putting out an almost ridiculous 621 hp and 738 lb.-ft. of torque.
Because it can’t put the power down as easily as the V-8, the V-12 isn’t actually as quick. However, with the same nine-speed manual and a wet-starter clutch as the V-8, the V-12 is as smooth as silk that’s been put through an extra smoothing process.
Combining the finest woods, leathers, and metals with ultra-modern features like large digital displays isn’t something every luxury manufacturer gets right, but Mercedes delivers a master-class of the art here. This is actually the last model year of this S-Class generation that was launched in 2014, but you wouldn’t know it when you sit inside.
It really is hard to find any fault whatsoever with the interior of the S-Class. The seats are spacious, ludicrously comfortable, and almost infinitely adjustable in some cases. The quality of the materials and the way they’re put together is beyond reproach. If you want to nit-pick, the sedan’s 16.3 cu.-ft. of trunk space isn’t especially generous, and there’s obviously even less with the coupe and convertible models, which are also less spacious for those sitting in the rear seats.
The IIHS and NHTSA have never crash-tested the S-Class, and considering the price and low sales volume, they probably never will. Even so, it’s hard to imagine it’s anything other than a very safe vehicle due to the extensive amount of standard and available safety features it has to offer. Every model gets rear-seat side airbags, inflatable rear seat belts, adaptive head restraints, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors. Options include a surround-view camera system, a driver-assistance suite, and even a night vision system.
Features and Equipment
Do you even imagine an S-Class that isn’t positively bursting with the latest high-tech features and equipment? Even the least expensive model includes a Burmester surround sound system, navigation, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 18-inch alloy wheels, 16-way power front seats, keyless ignition, soft-close doors and trunk lid, twin 12.3-inch digital display screens, and even an in-cabin fragrance system.
- Staggeringly comfortable
- Incredible attention to detail
- Copious amounts of safety tech
- Smooth, powerful powertrains
- Opulent luxury
- Infotainment a little too complex
- Plug-in hybrid still not available yet
- Not everyone can afford one, with a price range of around $90,000 to $250,000+
The Last Word
Basically, if you’re looking for a new full-size luxury sedan, coupe, or convertible, there really is no need to look anywhere other than the 2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Admittedly, an top tier AMG S65 Convertible will set you back more than a quarter of a million dollars. But regardless of what people like to think, the best things in life are rarely free. And there we have the one and only reason to not buy an S-Class: which is because you simply don’t have the budget for one.