Mercedes-Benz S Class Saloon 1999 - 2002

Mercedes-Benz S Class Saloon 1999 - 2002

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • A great line-up of engines
  • The first new-age Mercedes that sets an unsurpassable standard
  • A great level of equipment and comfort

Cons:

  • Expensive to maintain and repair
  • Huge running costs

Overview

The 7th generation flagship S-Class was eagerly awaited when it appeared in 1999. It was a risky endeavour to launch a new model in the wake of the 6th generation W140 Mercedes, which was a timeless favourite in the global luxury market. With the new car, the designers broke the mould. Stylistically, the old S-Class was closer to its 1970s predecessors and the 7th generation was a very far cry for the old establishment.

Exterior and Interior

You'd expect history to repeat itself and the new S-Class is bigger than its predecessor. If the C and E-Class cars are growing from generation to generation, why wouldn't the S do the same? Nevertheless, the wheelbase of the new generation is full 3 inches shorter than the previous S-Class. The available space was rendered more efficiently and it still looks and feels big and luscious with plenty of space and comfort. If anything, the cabin seems bigger and more comfortable, a good achievement considering.Style wise, the car brought in the new signature design of the modern Mercedes that was more or less followed up until today. The luxury interior of the car leaves a very good impression. There is plenty of leather, wood and super-quality plastics. There are four trim levels available: Standard, SE, L and AMG. In reality, there's only one level for this car, you cannot get an S-Class that compromises on anything. Even the Standard trim will satisfy the highest demands. The rest comes down to the style and equipment you require.

Performance and Economy

Unlike the E-Class, the flagship is known to depreciate quite quickly. Many could afford to buy an early-2000s Mercedes S-Class, the only question is about maintenance and running costs. Although the prices in the used car market are pleasantly low, the fuel bills and repair costs are not. Due to its high weight and oversized engines, we cannot really speak about fuel economy here. The smallest petrol engines will manage around 30mpg while the top of the range AMG model will deliver 19mpg at best. If you want to keep your expenses to a sensible level, choose one of the diesel engines. The 3.2-litre is a sensible option with great features and nice zingy character. The previous generation of the S-Class broke the rules and introduced a luxury car with an "uncool" diesel engine. Ever since, the world has accepted the new rules and the new diesel S-Class has been a best-seller.

Like to Drive

Driving the S-Class is a pleasure. The suspension used in the older S-Class was significantly improved and you can feel it in the quality of the ride. The passengers won't have to worry about bumpy roads and potholes. The car feels big, but as it is quite a lot smaller than the old model, it's also more agile and easier to handle. You shouldn't be afraid of driving the large V12 engines. The car comes with a full kit of electronic stability controls and you don't have to be a race driver in order to tame one of these powerful engines.

Faults and Repairs

Forget about the rusty Mercedes. With the 4th and 5th generation S-Class models, if you were bored, you could sit in the car and watch the rust eating the body away. The 7th generation gives the owner a 30-year rust warranty. If maintained at regular intervals, there's no reason why the car couldn't last for 30 years, apart from the electronics failing. Despite the good build quality and great engines, the car is rarely ranked among the most reliable vehicles. It has an impulsive character, but usually nothing serious can go wrong. The engines and gearboxes are almost as long-lasting as the body. Many S-Class examples come with a high amount of miles. If you ca find a car with a lower mileage and a good electric system, you'll be a rare guest at the dealership. Next time you pop in, however, expect an eye-watering bill.