The entry-level Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a thoroughly impressive limo for Singapore, and no longer a case of space without pace and grace
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury limo, now in its sixth W222 model iteration, saw a facelift earlier this year.
New additions for the facelift include smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay), the nine-speed gearbox, the exterior design (lower fascia, tail and headlights etc).
While we tested the upper-spec variant with a more powerful engine, the S 450 L, it’s only now that we’ve gotten our hands on the entry-level (as far as an S-Class can be described as such) S 320 L model.
Old-timers and those familiar with the S-Class might recognise those digits: The S 320 badge was one seen in generations gone by, although the more popular models for Singapore are indubitably the ones with smaller capacities, including the S 280 from the W140 and W220 generations, and the S 300 in the preceding W221 model.
But those models of yore were all naturally-aspirated, and while they delivered the sort of untroubled, silky forward progress the S-Class is known so well for, they also had a tendency to be a little slow on the uptake.
Not so this S 320 L, which has the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine as the S 450 L, albeit with 272hp on tap, it has 115hp less, as well as 100Nm less torque at the engine’s peak.
Still, compared to the sub-200hp output of the old entry-level S-Class models, the S 320 L positively flies.
Turbocharged it may be, but the V6 is truly worthy of its space under the bonnet of Merc’s best-known luxury model.
Torque is effortlessly shuffled through the adroit nine-speed gearbox with nary a perceptible lurch, velocity is gained without passengers chicken-necking in anxiety.
Instead, they remain with backs in seats, engaged in conversation, crossing legs and smiling.
The adaptive dampers have an inherently plush setup, so the S 320 L is, as it should be, notably better at smoothing out bad stuff on the road than any Mercedes below it in the model range.
A car can’t be a luxury limousine without an analog clock in it. We’re only half kidding….
While the S 450 L offers a sportier drive and more enjoyment for those behind the wheel, the S 320 L offers up refined quickness of its own.
It doesn’t slouch and complain when a driver wishes to extract more from it – you have the sense of a butler who’s rushing about to do your bidding quicker, but he’s still a butler, for better or worse. For Jason Statham in a suit sort of antics, see the S 63 AMG model.
At the less expensive end of the market, some Mercedes models offer less equipment than their competitors, but the same is resolutely not true of the S 320 L.
The price gulf of $56k between this and the S 450 L, performance aside, encompasses interior lighting options, wireless device charging in the rear seat (S 320 L has it on the front only), the semi-autonomous driving features (Lane Tracking Package, Lane Keeping Assist), and larger 19-inch wheels.
The interior’s still a wonderful place to pass the minutes, or even hours, in with everything you’d expect from a luxury limo at the top of its game.
Now, the S-Class sees serious competition from every corner – the new Audi A8 just popped up in Singapore, while the Lexus LS has had a serious change of heart – but it’s value lies in the fact that almost anybody could take a ride in the back and understand what’s valuable about it.
The badge on the front is simply a visual reminder of that.
Mercedes-Benz S 320 L
|Engine||2,996cc, V6, twin-turbo|
|Power||272bhp at 5500-6000rpm|
|Torque||400Nm at 2000-4000rpm|
|VES / CO2||C2 / 187g/km CO2|
|Agent||Cycle & Carriage|
|Price||$406,888 with COE|