1997 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review
Pros & Cons
- Not much to like about the S-Class. That is, of course, if you're insane. Big engines, rigid construction, fantastic name recognition, and unparalleled luxury.
- All of this perfection feels soulless at times.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Big Mercedes sedans have always been the ultimate automobiles. They scream success, are engineered to be driven hard, and keep the general public at bay. The S-Class projects confidence, prestige, and a certain amount of cold indifference.
Starting at just under $70,000 for the surprisingly speedy S320 six-cylinder sedan, and topping out at double that price for a S600 12-cylinder behemoth, the S-Class doesn't seem much like a mega-buck automobile on the inside. The switchgear feels relatively chintzy, the flimsy dash panel above the central vents is totally unacceptable in a car of this caliber, and the cheesy terry cloth fabric covering the lower dash feels and looks low rent.
Ergonomics are slightly marred by a plethora of confusing pictographs. Otherwise, the dash layout is perfect, as is the seating position. Step out and close the door; the thunk as it shuts exudes quality craftsmanship. The exterior styling is slab-sided and massive, making the car look fat. Aside from the traditional grille, the S-Class is devoid of exterior character, more so than the pedestrian Lexus LS400, and in startling contrast to the BMW 7-Series.
For 1997, Mercedes has introduced a host of luxury upgrades to help protect occupants, and to make their job of driving easier.
The S-Class costs more than just about anything printed in this book, and although the car is nice, we don't think it is quite that nice. If you've got this much money to spend, take a look at the new Jaguars or the BMW 7-Series; they might just make you happier.