Blue is becoming the new word for green. But has Mercedes’ foray into the genre won over Frederic Manby?
I’LL write it only once: Mercedes-Benz S 350 CDI LWB BlueEFFICIENCY.
It tells us that this is the longer version of the S-Class model, fitted like most current Mercs with fuel economy improvements – dubbed BlueEFFICIENCY, presumably because the colour green was getting a bit passé. Oddly, Volkswagen uses “blue”, too for its eco champions.
You could guess that it has a 3.5-litre diesel engine, which is what many drivers will assume to be the case. In fact, the “350” has no mechanical relevance, simply denoting its implied status.
The engine capacity is 2987cc, its power outputs are 235 horse and 398 lb ft.
It is more than 17 feet long and weighs two-and-a-half tons. It can surge almost silently to 60 miles an hour in seven-and-a-half seconds and yet is rated at almost 37 miles a gallon and a sub-gas guzzler carbon dioxide figure of 204g/km.
In standard, sumptuously equipped state, it costs £61,940.
The test car seen here was £84,274. The principal addons were £5,545 for the AMG Sports pack (AMG branded 19in wheels and body kit, black ash interior trim and painted brake callipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering – just to endorse your choice of car).
There was a galumph of other bits, including “passion leather” seats with massaging (make up your own smutty jibes), a nightview camera with pedestrian detection, and a 36.5bhp power upgrade for the engine.
There is no point going through the entire list of standard fittings (included:navigation, air suspension, rear window blind and a device that vibrates the car if it thinks you are dozing off, another that closes the windows and tightens the belts if you are crashing).
The owner’s handbook is voluminous. There are 34 pages alone on the navigation system. Where pertinent, it gives you a “Risk of Injury” advisory.
Example: “Cup-holders should not be used for hot drinks. Otherwise, you may scald yourself” and not to use them at all when the car is moving.
Similarly, the rear folding tables should be stowed when the car is moving.
It is one of the world’s finest and safest limousines. Once,a faithful Rolls-Royce owner took his Roller to the factory for servicing (the Crewe days) and was loaned a Mercedes S-Class.
He never bought another Rolls-Royce.
That was then, before Rolls-Royce became a posh BMW and Bentley became a pukka Audi.
Two roofers next door. Two cars, one this Mercedes, the other an overlapping loan of a Maserati Granturismo S.
With its extras, the Mercedes was a similar price to the Maserati (which highlights just how very much a bespoke Italian sportscar costs).
The older roofer said he’d have the Maserati. The other (“the young ’un”) preferred the Mercedes. I’d have put them the other way round.
The standard car’s possibilities bring, say, a few dozen massaging options for the seats, this and other variables being accessed through the central control unit. There are too many visible switches to comprehend, but these are cars which are often driven by a professional chauffeur,with the owner or customer taking her or his ease in the rear.
I spent some time in the back, too. The progress around corners was felt more than from a front seat.
The car runs smoothly and sweetly in other respects,controlled by a seven-speed automatic gearbox, itself selected by a convenient stalk on the steering column.
This is another car that, so far, eschews the fad for pushbutton ignition. It uses a bladeless key-turn in the fascia panel to the right of the steering wheel.
The 3-litre V6 diesel is scarcely audible as a diesel.
You hear a sort of hiss, and feel a huge wave of uninterrupted acceleration,seemingly forever but it must slacken off at some point above 100mpg.
The night-view screen (£1,620) which uses infra-red vision, brings startling clarity to street scenes, seeing beyond the range of the headlamps, giving a picture in shades of grey in place of the speedometer,temporarily replaced by a bar scale. It can alert you to a sudden pedestrian in the road. It is a moot point whether the view through the windscreen is thus ignored slightly.
There could be an argument for placing the night-view screen in front of the passenger.
In the first, interim and final analysis, the S350 diesel is a very convincing car.
• This report has appeared in the Yorkshire Post