Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class (1999 - 2005) Driving & Performance

Review by Parkers on
Last Updated: 27 Jan 2014
This S-Class looks sleekly poised and is less of a heavyweight than the previous model, though it has retained its imposing identity and presence. Thanks to the Active Body Control system the handling is sharpened up so much that the old car feels stodgy by comparison.
4 out of 5


There's more than enough power from the various engine options, starting at entry level 2.8 all the way up to the V12 5.5-litre S600 L version. It's the six-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel which is the pick of the bunch however thanks to its blend of economy and effortless motorway cruising. Out and out peak performance belongs to the AMG versions, which will exhilarate.

There's the S55 AMG with a supercharged V8 engine delivering 500bhp (this superceeded the non-supercharged variant with 360bhp) or the bonkers S63 AMG. The V12 engine has 612bhp and 1,000Nm making it capable of 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds.

3 out of 5


The S-Class is a car designed to eat up autobahn miles with minimal effort and fuss so it's no surprise that the ride is exceptionally smooth. It's not quite as driver focussed as its BMW rival but the well-weighted steering and sophisticated chassis make it reassuring and composed on more demanding roads - it certainly feels more agile than it's size suggests.

As you'd expect the AMG models, with their stiffer suspensions and larger wheels are the choice for keener drivers.