In the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec we have a paradox. On the one hand we're predisposed to the idea of a large luxury sedan with diesel power. Low-rpm torque makes luxury sedans feel like small trains and that's exactly how we want them to be. That part is good.
The other side of the equation is the S350's 3.0-liter V6. Sure, with 455 pound-feet of torque it's got some grunt and it returns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined. But a V6? Moving 4,900 pounds of executive sedan? For $93,425?
Is it enough to impress buyers used to V8s and make them forget the cylinder shortage?
Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec 4Matic
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price as tested: $113,400 (Base price: $93,425)
Drive Type: All-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, diesel
Redline (rpm): 4,750
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 3,600
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 455 @ 1,600 - 2,400
Brake Type (front): 13.2-inch ventilated discs with four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 11.8-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front) Independent, adjustable air suspension, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, adjustable air suspension, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 255/45R18 (99Y)
Tire Size (rear): 255/45R18 (99Y)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: SportContact 2
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer performance
Wheel size: 18-by-8.5 inches
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,953
0-30 (sec): 2.8 (3.5 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.9 (5.5 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 7.5 (8.2 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.1 (7.7 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 11.1 (11.8 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.5 @ 89.2 (16.1 @ 88.9)
30-0 (ft): 28
60-0 (ft): 116
Slalom (mph): 64.6 (61.5 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.84 (0.82 w/TC on)
Db @ Idle: 43.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 65.7
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 61.0
Fuel economy as tested: 23.4
Acceleration: Powertrain seems uninterested (typical diesel) in speed, but hauls this land yacht around effectively enough. Good surge of torque at 2,500 rpm. Upshifts automatically -- even in manual. No real rev matching.
Braking: Solid, progressive, consistent pedal. No fade. No distance increase.
Skid pad: Up against ESC limits immediately. Nothing can be done to improve -- or influence -- handling once against the ESC wall. Turning ESC "off" does open performance envelope.
Slalom: Typically predictable Mercedes sedan in the slalom. Big but composed. ESC "off" only opens the performance envelope, but isn't truly off, so actual limits remain out of reach.