This is my 5th S-Class, second one from this generation. Over the years the car has grown be the real luxury sedan it is known to be. If you're looking for a sport sedan, go for the AMG or Panamera. If you're looking for the most relax daily driver on the market, you can't go wrong with this. The pedal feels firm where you can feel the power through each inch you press. For 13" front and 11" rear brakes, the car stops effortlessly. The 7-spd transmission is one of the best I've driven so far. The car has been flawless over the years. The only problem I've ever had, was to replace the wiper blades.
Generally I loved to drive this car. Reasonable performance for a full-size sedan. However, it's exceedingly thirsty. As always, the published fuel economy is way more optimistic than real world driving condition. A typical mix of city and highway gets about 450km out of a 100l tank. Do the math -- consumption is generally high teens per 100km. After just over 4 years of age, and about 52000 kilometers, the transmission failed. The cost of parts and labour to replace the entire transmission was over $14,000. So where's the "legendary reliability, to quote Mercedes? It's a legend!
Ok after 2 years of owning my S550 I am still very pleased. Everyday it give you total luxury and plenty of power when you need it. Still learning all the bells and whistles but I have to smile everytime I see a new one knowing what they paid for it vs one a few years old. My advise be patient find a good one and then keep it for a long time. You will not regret your purchase. Most people can't tell my 2009 from a new one and just assume it is has to be new. I love it.
Waited 10 yrs to responsibly afford this car. WELL WORTH IT. My wife and I treat this vehicle like a family heirloom. A recent VA-NY road trip was blissful... too short even. Getting acquainted w/ the onboard systems is a fun adventure. Upgrading to the 2009 S550 4Matic (from our 2000 E320) was like being selected from an overcrowded coach class seat by a pretty flight attendant and being led by the soft, well-manicured hand to posh first class seats. Straight forward power is embarrassingly obliging. Leather, wood and interior touches are like a private men's club lounge that even a discerning lady can appreciate. Play it cool on long runs and flirt w/ 30 mpg. NY ice/snow: no problems!
I'm happy to have it because it is the best car I have ever owned. The interior is plush, glitzy, and a bit ostentatious, but this is required in a huge Mercedes-Benz Saloon car. The sat nav is intuitive, but the COMMAND system takes around a week to fully master. Driving this car is interesting. You feel the huge size, but the 4Matic system, just seems to make it feel smaller. The power is easily accessible an the torque can be accessed in the low rev range. The steering is good, for a huge saloon car, but it takes to many turns of the wheel. The paddle shifters on the side feel awkward and hard to use, they also feel cheap. Overall this car is probably the best car on the market today.