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Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2006 Review

The second generation Distronic cruise control system employs not one but two radar systems to automatically brake the car when the active cruise system is activated.

One radar focuses on traffic directly in the lane ahead while the other scans the lanes on either side on the lookout for vehicles entering the car's path.

The trouble is the second, long range radar operates on the same 77Ghz frequency that astronomers use for their radio telescopes - and herein lies the problem.

Until Benz gets permission, it is not able to use this frequency and so the first cars offered for sale here will only have the old single radar system for which the company already has approval.

This short range system operates in the 24Ghz band.

Benz applied for government approval two months ago but it could be several months before it gets the go ahead.

But the kerfuffle doesn't seem to have phased buyers as company executives say their is still strong demand for the car.

The S Class is the biggie of the Benz range and goes head to head with the likes of BMW's 7 Series and Audi's A8.

However, it has a big reputation to live up to as it is regarded as the world's best mass produced car.

As such the S commands a premium, with prices starting from $187,900 without any options - and no one, but no one, buys one of these cars without ticking a few options.

Models range from the 3.5-litre V6 S350, to the 5.4-litre V8 S500 and top of the line twin turbo V12 model that goes for a whopping $363,900.

A V6 diesel is also in the pipeline.

In comparison, prices for the BMW 7 Series kick off at $181,000 and for the Audi A8 at $169,000.

Resale value for the S Class is best in its class.

First cab off the rank for the Australian market is the S500, the long wheelbase version of which we got to put through its paces this week in Victoria.

At just over 5.2 metres and weighing in at close to two tonnes, this car is no shrinking violet.

The 5.4-litre V8 delivers 285kW of power and 530Nm of torque, capable of catapulting the car from rest to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds.

Power is fed through a seven-speed tiptronic auto to the rear wheels and the car rides air suspension, with 17-inch 235/55 wheels and rubber.

A host of electronic aids are standard to keep you and the car on the road.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 11.8-12.0 litres per 100km.

To give you an idea of how advanced this car is, a 108-page document is needed for the technical highlights.

However, the proof as they say is in the pudding and we make these observations after several hundred kilometres behind the wheel.

It's not as quiet inside as the BMW, nor for that matter the library like Lexus LS430, with plenty of road noise penetrating the rear passenger area from the Continental tyres fitted to our test car.

Although the rear seat has seatbelts for three passengers, it is designed to carry two outboard passengers in absolute comfort, with individual seat adjustment for each.

Number three passenger gets the narrow bit of seat left over in front of the fold down armrest, but this is the market for which Benz is catering.

Like the BMW, the transmission shift lever has been moved to the steering column, freeing up space for a covered phone kepad.

Guess the designers feel that the well heeled owners will make more use of this more than a floor shift.

Having said that, we're not huge fans of the column shift in either car, nor for the matter the steering wheel mounted button change system.

Surprisingly, an alarm system is not standard but we gather is not a high priority option among buyers.

 

Pricing Guides

$29,990
Based on 10 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$20,750
Highest Price
$58,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
S350 3.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $20,750 – 22,980 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2006 S350 Pricing and Specs
S55 K 5.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $44,330 – 51,590 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2006 S55 K Pricing and Specs
S600 L 5.5L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $45,320 – 52,690 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2006 S600 L Pricing and Specs
S65 L AMG 6.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $56,650 – 65,120 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2006 S65 L AMG Pricing and Specs