26: Mercedes-Benz S-Class – the true luxury car king

Top cars for 2020: The car against which all other luxury models are judged - and invariably fall short


There is a school of thought that asks what’s the point in buying a vastly more expensive S-Class when the E-Class is already so excellent a car? Which is a good point in many ways. It is also utterly, utterly, wrong… You see the S-Class is not merely a bigger E-Class, it is still the fin de siecle luxury saloon.

It has seen off such talented and brilliant competition as the BMW 7 Series, the Audi R8, the Jaguar XJ, the Lexus LS, and more recently the Tesla Model S, and it has done so not just once, but for generation after generation.

Every time you think the competition may have caught up, Mercedes inches the goalposts just that bit further forward. The current S-Class - available in forms as disparate as a ‘basic’ 350d diesel saloon, a super-luxury long-wheelbase Maybach, and a ridiculous-in-all-senses AMG V12 model - has a cabin that appears at first familiar but which slowly smothers you in luxury and comfort.

It’s a big, smooth, silent limo but one that can be entertainingly hustled on a back road. And for those as concerned about the environment as their share prices, there is an ultra-efficient plugin-hybrid S560e model. While the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley parade their wares as the ultimate in luxury, we all know which is the true luxury car king…

Best model: S560e LWB for €116,640

Price range: €97,550 to €358,960. Finance from €1,226 per month.

Co2 emissions: 80 to 226g/km

Sum up: It’s good to be the king.