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Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2005 Review

The new S-Class will be here early next year.
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But as expected, the big Benz, brimming with high tech equipment, snubbed its nose and pressed on as if nothing out of the ordinary was taking place.

That is the essence of this car – it's a cut above, and Benz makes no bones about the fact equipping the new model with all the clever technology at its disposal and luxury features designed to make driving almost a seminal experience.

Now in its eighth generation spanning fifty years, the iconic Mercedes-Benz S-Class has slipped up a cog with a brace of new engines, a new look and more of pretty well everything that defines the model.

Three engines will eventually be offered here: a 5.4-litre, 285kW/530Nm V8, followed by a 3.5-litre, 200kW/350Nm V6 and then a mighty 5.5-litre, twin turbo V12 with 380Nm/ 830Nm output. Mercedes-Benz Australia also has the 3.2-litre turbo diesel V6 under consideration.

These engines are used across the Benz range.

The modelsare designated S350, S500 and S600 and though prices were not available at the international press preview drive, talk of an eight per cent price rise was bandied about. That would make the starting point for the V6 around $180,000.

A seven speed automatic transmission is standard throughout as is ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and air suspension.

Air suspension is worthy of special mention because the suspension gives the big Benz a superb feel in terms of ride, comfort and control. It is much more "connected" than the previous model.

Weighing close to two tonnes even in S350 form, the new S-Class defies its bulk giving a sporty,"solid" feel. This is accentuated by the steering and other dynamics.

It's a big, agile car to drive, not be driven in.

Though appearing smaller, the new model is actually larger all round offering more room inside and a bigger boot.

Few if any parts carry over and the styling is more aggressive with pronounced wheel arches, high top boot lid, curving roof turret line and imposing grille. Benz designers laughingly describe the look as "discrete elegance."

Interior noise levels are eerily quiet apart from some exhaust burble under hard acceler- ation.

The interior itself is in a more modern idiom with graceful lines interspersed with high tech materials and equipment.

A "Command Control" system looks after many in car functions and also chassis dynamics. It is relatively simple to use from one centre console mounted pivoting knob.

Little is left off the standard equipment list but plenty of options are available to "tailor" the S-Class.

The most interesting is Night View Assist – an infrared vision system that is said to increase safety at night. It gives a clear image on a screen in the instrument pod many metres in front of the headlights.

The system is linked to the radar modulated cruise control system and other electronic systems on the S-Class.

Driving the big Benz is rewarding particularly with the multi mode seven-speed auto taking car of business. The S500 has strident performance and is never lacking in response. It sounds superb and can run relatively economically when cruising.

The S350 is similarly rewarding but with a little less kick in the tail.

And of course it's comfortable: one car was fitted with adaptive seats that actually "hug" driver and passenger to counteract cornering forces. They could be standard on all Aust- ralian models.

All ancillary equipment is first rate - the audio, climate control, seats, materials. One car even had an automatic boot closer and a glass roof option is available.

The new S-Class will be here early next year.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

S350 3.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $18,500 – 25,740 2005 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2005 S350 Pricing and Specs
S55 K 5.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $39,500 – 50,490 2005 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2005 S55 K Pricing and Specs
S600 L 5.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $29,700 – 38,830 2005 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2005 S600 L Pricing and Specs
S65 L AMG 6.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $49,300 – 62,370 2005 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2005 S65 L AMG Pricing and Specs