Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz S 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives reviews mercedes benz luxury cars
2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 Bluetec 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

While I would normally work my way into a story by talking about a car’s position in the market or general character, I’m going to skip all that and jump right in to talking about the Mercedes-Benz S 350 Bluetec’s seats.

That’s right, the seats.

This paragon of luxurious motoring has the best seats I have ever experienced in all my years of reviewing cars. Yes, they require a good 15 minutes to adjust the dozens of ways in which they can be tailored to your body, some through the power switches on the door and some through the Comand interface. Once adjusted, they seem to cushion, embrace, and support every point along your back and legs in perfect balance and the side torso bolsters even provide a bit of counter-pressure when turning into a corner. The leather is beautifully soft and rich—you will not mistake this for synthetic leather, and the seat massage option is refreshing, if not quite a substitute for human hands, and it can be activated by a programmable ‘favourite’ button on the centre console.

Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz S 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives reviews mercedes benz luxury cars
Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz S 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives reviews mercedes benz luxury cars
Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz S 350 Bluetec Diesel car test drives reviews mercedes benz luxury cars
2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 Bluetec 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge

The seat settings for driver and front passenger can also be stored through the memory seat function so you don’t have to worry about readjusting them after every time your spouse drives the car, leaving the S-Class owner free to worry about the details of an international banking merger he is working on, diagnosing the patient she is treating, or perhaps about the various illegal activities that their crime syndicate is running. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist playing with the stereotype of the S-Class as a crime lord’s vehicle of choice, though I highly doubt one would opt for the non-armoured and efficient S 350 Bluetec diesel).

Of course, S-Class owners probably have a second, third or fourth car kicking around for various family members and occasions, so perhaps that’s not an issue these lucky few face. And this car would be their year-round daily driver. Okay, maybe they would take the Range Rover in winter, but it’s really not necessary, because the S 350 Bluetec comes standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive, which seamlessly manages power between the front and rear axles. You can, however, still get an S-Class with rear-wheel drive, in S 400 Hybrid, S 600 and AMG trims.

The S 400 Hybrid in particular is a curious counterpoint to the S350 Bluetec diesel in Mercedes-Benz’ own showroom. Both are obviously meant to tackle the efficiency end of the spectrum, with the S 350 diesel’s fuel consumption estimated at 6.3 L/100 km in highway cruising and 10.2 in city driving as per Natural Resources Canada’s guidelines, and the Hybrid at 11.2/7.9 city/highway. I would have expected the Hybrid to beat the Bluetec diesel in city driving at least, but the S 350 is the efficiency king in the S-Class lineup and in the full-size luxury car segment. And out in the real world, I managed to finish the week after a mix of city and highway driving 9.2 L/100 km (including one long highway stint that showed an impressive 7.4 L/100 km and over 1,000 km of range even after 200 km driven—the range was actually increasing on the return leg because of all the steady-state cruising).

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