2023 Mercedes-Benz S500 L 4Matic W223

2023 Mercedes-Benz S500 L 4Matic W223

The latest iteration of Mercedes-Benz’s halo sedan shows a return to star quality...

Even though the field in which it plays has lost a great deal of ground to the SUV segment, it has to be said the arrival of a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is always cause for great excitement in the motoring sphere. Ever since its official inception with the W116 in 1972, the S-Class has always been the material culmination of Mercedes’ best work; from craftsmanship to new technologies. On the marque’s 50th anniversary, we get to sample the latest iteration of the firm’s halo sedan.

2023 Mercedes-Benz S500 L 4Matic W223

We’re well aware of just how much technology and luxury the Stuttgart-based luxury carmaker has baked into the latest model. However, it would all be for nought if the car couldn’t maintain the standard within its segment for refinement and sheer capability behind the wheel, so we’ve put the current range-topping S500 through its paces to see if the S remains a crushing success.

Purely available as a long-wheelbase offering, the new S measures over five metres in length and almost two metres in width, overall, and takes up a fair bit of real estate when parked. In keeping with the firm’s design ethos, that bulk is masked by sheet metal that curves and smooths over major elements, while a coup.-like roofline and slightly cab-back profile make it look imposing yet graceful. Moving inside, it’s clear the S has joined the digital age with hardly anything in the way of physical switchgear for the ancillaries. Instead, the driver is confronted with a brace of OLED panels for the instrumentation and what is presently the most advanced version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system.

The former can be specified with an impressive, sometimes disorientating 3D display and features myriad information and performance display outlays. The system’s user interface looks daunting but at least it anchors frequently used features such as HVAC at the base of the screen in a format familiar to those accustomed to physical dials and buttons. Depending on your car’s specification, you can mine to considerable depths in the MBUX system, digging out graphic readouts of the car’s assistance systems and performance-related data in glorious detail. Opting for extended MBUX features will usher in the likes of augmentedreality overlays for the sat nav and head-up display, not to mention a host of voice-actuated ancillary controls. Utter “Hey Mercedes” and the requisite command suffix, and the S can massage your tired muscles, adjust the climate control or input your destination into the sat nav. There’s even a suite of wellness functions within MBUX. Using a combination of voice and graphically driven prompts, the system oversees certain elements (ambient lighting, audio system, seat massage settings and fragrance emanating from the climate control) to create conditions that can relax or invigorate whomever is behind the wheel.

A battery of active driver assistance systems ranging from camera- and radar-actuated modules for adaptive cruise control to lane-keeping and semiautonomous motorway driving take further strain off the driver. All of this takes place in a cabin that’s tastefully appointed and awash with stitched leather and open-pore wood veneers, as you’d expect in a top-tier Mercedes offering.

While there’s no denying just how cosseting the seats are and how visually striking the illuminated trim seams and airvent brightwork is, it’s a little disappointing to see some thinfeeling plastics on the centre console that jar with what’s otherwise a class-leading interior.

Of course, the essence of what makes the S such a formidable player in its rarefied segment is how it acquits itself on the road. With the relationship between engine displacement and vehicle model nomenclature becoming ever-less relevant in the motoring sphere, it comes as little surprise that the S500 no longer plays host to a large-displacement V8 engine. That’s not to say the turbocharged 3,0-litre inline-six is a let-down; far from it.

What it lacks in the aural character of its eight-cylinder predecessor, it more than compensates for in mechanical refinement and tractability.

With 320 kW and 520 N.m of torque – the latter occupying a broad 1 800-5 000 r/min swathe of the rev band – it is supplemented by Mercedes’ EQ Boost 48V mildhybrid electrical architecture with integrated starter-generator (ISG) that can provide a further 16 kW and 250 N.m over a short period. The unit certainly wasn’t overtaxed by the S500’s 2 232 kg kerb weight and managed to propel the luxury sedan from zero to 100 km/h in just 5,81 seconds during our performance tests.

The respective 80-100 km/h and 100-120 km/h overtaking acceleration figures of 1,34 and 2,1 seconds were similarly respectable. Our mixed-use fuel run saw the S500 return 9,18 litres/100 km against Mercedes’ 8,1 litres/100 km claim. The numbers and measurements speak well enough of the S’ capability but don’t really do justice to just how accomplished a cruiser this car is. The workings of the ISG not only render the normally clunky actions of the start-stop system incredibly smooth, the assistive boost it generates contributes to the S feeling relaxed at all speeds. It’s a similar story with the adaptive dampers and air suspension, which dispense of all but the severest of road imperfections.

The manner in which these systems weave themselves into the narrative of the S’s drive means there’s little this side of a Bentley or Rolls-Royce that can match its composure and cathedral-like quiet on the open road.

Dynamically, the S-Class has always been something of a paradox. Despite being loaded with lashings of technology and luxury trimmings that has perennially seen them sitting on the wrong side of two tonnes, previous generations have managed to exhibit a surprising degree of agility when pressed into spirited driving.

The latest S is no exception. It may have set our scales creaking but its combination of well-geared power steering with a lock-to-lock ratio of just 2,2 turns – something you’re more likely to encounter in a performance car than a limousine – along with the air suspension’s continual active damping module that keeps the ride impressively constant and body roll in check means the S can be hustled along a twisting road in an unexpectedly entertaining manner. Our car didn’t feature the rear-axle steering system that can countersteer the rear wheels a couple of degrees at higher speeds and follow the track of the fronts when manoeuvring round town. Prior experience of this in the new C-Class was a mixed bag; there was some artificiality under turnin at speed. Still, with this car’s 12,2-metre turning circle, it could prove handy.

Although such dynamic high jinks are possible, it’s unlikely your rear passengers will appreciate being thrown about in such a fashion. Thankfully, a good portion of this car’s three-metre wheelbase is devoted to rear accommodations more akin to the business-class section of an airliner than a sedan. Our test unit featured electrically adjustable and ventilated individual rear seats, complete with folding tray tables, MBUX-supplementing mini-tablet in the armrest and TFT screens in front headrests, and a removable skihatch- accessed mini fridge that eats into the modest 360-litre boot; all optional, of course.


No doubt there were some raised eyebrows when the S-Class relinquished its Top 12 Best Buys Luxury Car crown to the BMW 7 Series last year but on the back of that model’s accomplished showing in our road test and a relative lack of movement in Mercedes’ S-Class stable, we felt the decision was justified. Having piloted the new S, in terms of sheer refinement, ride quality and technology, it has done enough to wrest back the title from its Bavarian rival and is once again the benchmark offering in this segment.

Retains the smooth, effortless and sumptuous traits that are perennial strong points of the S-Class family Gareth Dean

With segment-defining luxury and cutting-edge technology, the new S-Class raises the bar, yet again Damian Adams

01 Prominent digital instrumentation and MBUX screens are standouts of the new car’s cabin.

02 Rear accommodations akin to business class on an airliner.

03 Optional fridge eats into 360-litre boot.

04 S500 badge now denotes a 3,0-litre inline-six engine.

05 Rear infotainment systemis information-rich.

06 Three-pointed star crowns a prominent bonnet.

Ride remains impressive, even on 20-inch rims with 40-profile rubber .

TECHNICAL DATA 2023 Mercedes-Benz S500 L 4Matic W223


  • Cylinders: six, inline, longitudinal
  • Fuel supply: electronic direct fuel injection, turbocharged, intercooled, petrol
  • Bore/stroke: 83,0/92,4 mm
  • Cubic capacity: 2 999 cm3
  • Compression ratio: 10,5 to 1
  • Valvegear: d-o-h-c, four valves per cylinder


  • Max power ISO: 320 kW
  • Power peak/Red line: 5 900-6 100/6250r/min
  • Max torque: 520 N.m
  • Torque peak: 1 800-5 500 r/min


  • Type: nine-speed automatic
  • 1st gear/2nd gear: 5,35/3,24 to 1
  • 3rd gear/4th gear: 2,25/1,64 to 1
  • 5th gear/6th gear: 1,21/1,00 to 1
  • 7th gear/8th gear: 0,87/0,72 to 1
  • Top gear: 0,60/0,00 to 1
  • Reverse gear: 4,80 to 1
  • Final drive: 2,82 to 1
  • Drive wheels: all
  • Driver aids: ESC (electronic stability control), hill start


  • Front: 390 mm ventilated discs
  • Rear: 365 mm ventilated discs
  • Hydraulics: ABS with EBD and EBA


  • Tyre make: Bridgestone Turanza
  • Tyre size(f:r): 255/40 R20;285/35 R20
  • Spare – type and location: none, mobility kit


  • Type: rack and pinion, electric power assist
  • Lock to lock: 2,2 turns
  • Turning circle diameter: 12,2 m


  • Front: independent, double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar
  • Rear: independent, multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar


2-year/unlimited km warranty

5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan

Services according to onboard computer

Airbags: front/side/curtain/knee Air-con: quad-zone climate Audio system: radio/aux-in/USB/Bluetooth/voice control/Android Auto + Apple CarPlay

Cruise control: standard, adaptive Sat-nav: standard Park assist: standard, incl. camera Windows: all-electric Trip computer: standard Driver seat adjust: electric, incl. height Folding rear seat: no Upholstery: leather Isofix anchorages: outer rear Steering adjust: electric rake + reach Steering audio controls: standard Tyre sensors: standard Wipers auto-on: standard Headlamps auto-on: standard Head-up display: standard



Manufacturer’s figure: 250 km/h



Test conditions**: Ambient temp/barometric press: 30 °C/1 009 hPa Test car’s odometer: 6 218 km

*Prices as recommended by manufacturer

**All tests conducted at sea level





Odometer error: 0,70% over

60 80 100 120

58 78 98 118

0-60 0-80 0-100 0-120 0-140

2,8 4,13 5,81 7,97 10,38



Best/worst stop: 2,75/3,21

Average of 10 stops/rating: 2,96/excellent

Average stopping distance: 39,85 m

10 stops from 100 km/h measured in seconds.

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