The S-Class and preceding model series in the international press

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always elicited an extraordinary response from the worldwide press. Moreover, quotes from contemporary articles on all the models in the line of ancestors lend a touch of colour that assigns them to their different eras.

The Mercedes-Simplex in the press

“Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung”, issue 51-52/1902, on the Mercedes-Simplex at the Paris Motor Show:
“We have previously cited a French source describing this year’s Paris Motor Show as the ‘Mercedes Show’. The Mercedes model does indeed provide the main theme in the grand symphony of countless automotive designs which interpret this leitmotif with varying degrees of ingenuity. The English have already added an expression to their vocabulary to describe this revaluation of all automotive values along Daimler lines, aptly referring to this phenomenon as ‘Daimlerfication’. The honeycomb radiator, which also influences the lines of the vehicle in some respects, was virtually unknown at the last Paris Motor Show, but has since become ‘de rigueur’ for most French construction engineers. Among the many visitors to the Paris Motor Show on 12 December was the King of Belgium, who proved to have a good knowledge of all things automotive. He viewed every stand, his tour of the exposition also taking in the Mercedes cars. His interest in this brand is understandable, as the king had a 40 HP Mercedes in use and recently ordered the very latest 60 HP Mercedes model in Cannstatt. During the visit to the Mercedes stand, engineer Maybach was introduced to the king, and a highly animated discussion on purely technical matters ensued between the two. An engaging picture: the imposing figure of the king and Maybach’s more modest demeanour. But this was actually a meeting of kings: Leopold, King of Belgium, and Maybach, king of the design engineers. With Maybach as a ‘star attraction’ of the show in his own right.”

“Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung”, issue 3/1903, on the 1903 Mercedes models:
“Even the French competition admits that the Mercedes car marks the pinnacle of the international automotive world today. […] We showed in our first "Show" report just how rife the tendency to emulate this leader has become. But there are also firms who are copying the Mercedes in terms of its design, rather than its mechanical side. […] The Mercedes carburettor marks a major change. […] The new carburettor is smaller than its predecessor and is intended to enable a reduction in the engine speed such that, when the engine is running at minimum revs in neutral, it is possible to stand near the car without hearing a sound. […]”

“Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung” (AAZ), issue 28/1903, on victory for the Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP in the 1903 Gordon Bennett race:
“Although the 60 HP Mercedes models were known to be capable of setting a formidable pace, it was also clear that they lagged behind the French cars in terms of absolute speed. But speed alone was not the decisive factor on this stretch with its countless bends and sharp corners. A much more important ingredient for swift progress was the elasticity of the engine, which the Mercedes vehicles are known to possess in abundance. The driver behind the wheel of this 60 HP car is not required to devote great attention to the lever for changing the speeds, being able to vary the vehicle’s pace with great delicacy by leaving the fourth speed engaged and operating only the levers for gas intake and pre-ignition. The speed of the 60 HP vehicles can be increased in this manner from the pace of a trotting horse to 120 km per hour." In the same issue, the AAZ cites the "Neue Wiener Tagblatt": "The English and the Americans were on the course weeks before, and were familiar with every milestone, every bend in the road and every tree. […] In contrast, the representatives of Germany arrived only shortly before the race and had no knowledge of the course at all; they trusted in the quality of their cars, and they were also the only competitors who, rather than wrapping their racing vehicles up in cotton wool for the trip to the racing venue, actually drove the cars intended for the race from Cannstatt to Paris, from Paris to Havre, crossed the Channel and then continued their journey by racing car through Wales to the Irish Sea. And in Ireland these vehicles, with a gruelling trip behind them, saw off what can only described as the quintessence of international automotive engineering … Praise and honour be to the brilliant Maybach, the construction engineer behind the Mercedes cars!”

The Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 and 500 (W 08) in the press

“Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung”, Vienna edition, No. 23/1928, on the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460:
“Given the traditional principle of Mercedes-Benz only to build high-quality cars to the utmost perfection, it goes without saying that this vehicle was only presented once its design had been subjected to the severest testing. As a final trial by fire, the new model completed an uninterrupted day-and-night endurance trial with driver changes on the world’s most rigorous test track, the Nürburgring circuit. The general assumption that a production car is unable to withstand an uninterrupted trial covering more than 10,000 km at Nürburgring was strikingly proved wrong with the first test drive of the new eight-cylinder model. It covered 20,000 km in twelve driving days with an average speed of over 64 km/h, at times reaching speeds of up to 110 km, with flying colours and set a new record for reliability. By virtue of this extraordinary achievement, the new eight-cylinder model has been given the name "Nürburg model" (4.6 litres, 18/80 hp, Model 460).”

“Auto Revue”, No. 10/1929, on the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460:
“The feeling of pleasure and driving safety in this car is enhanced by the careful weight distribution, which very rarely shows any tendency to skid. I was unable to ascertain any driver fatigue resulting from the weight of the vehicle. The wide track, good suspension and light, comfortable steering, as well as the absolutely reassuring feeling of not losing control even at the very highest speeds, will give rise to hardly any signs of fatigue even on longer tours.”

“Motor und Sport”, Germany, No. 37/1933, on the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 500:
“It really is one of the most spacious seven-seaters (wheelbase 3.67 m), extraordinarily comfortable and with a rare level of high-quality appointments. The suspension is very soft, while the engine and all other drive units operate quietly and without any vibrations. The high level of refinement for which Sindelfingen bodies are known is ideally suited to the high technical quality of this car. [...] At any rate, the ‘Nürburg’ is a car in which long distances can be covered in extraordinary physical comfort, and which allows high average mileage with a high safety factor thanks to the balanced performance of the engine and the good transmission system.”

The Mercedes-Benz 320 (W 142) in the press:

“Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung” (AAZ), Germany, No. 33/1937, on the Mercedes-Benz 320:
“In this car one is tempted to speak less about its technical characteristics than about the direct comfort and convenience it offers its occupants. This is mainly due to the fact that the technical aspects of this car inherently operate so inconspicuously that it is easy to forget the extent of the high-quality design and technical work that is necessary to produce such success. [...] The engine is exemplary in its quietness, flexibility and smoothness; unflustered, it continues to run smoothly even when drivers give vent to their nervousness via his right foot. [...] The general appointments of the vehicle meet the highest expectations. The seats leave nothing to be desired in terms of practicality and comfort.”

“Automobil Revue”, Germany, No. 2/1938, on the Mercedes-Benz 320:
“The Daimler-Benz A. G. bodies produced in Sindelfingen are top-class examples of international bodybuilding and represent the finest German craftsmanship combined with sound and refined tastefulness. The beauty and elegance of the external appearance go hand in hand with the ultimate comfort in the interior, with a high level of travelling comfort and with the implacable principle of quality in all major and minor aspects, contributing to the overall picture of this exemplary vehicle.”

“The Autocar”, England, in its 18 February 1938 edition, on the Mercedes-Benz 320:
“The road behaviour is refined as regards smoothness and quietness of the engine, and very comfortable riding is given. Also this car shows up well from two opposed viewpoints in that it is quiet, flexible and smooth to the degree of silkiness for town and leisurely driving, yet notably free from effort at maintained high speed. [...] The interior is very well finished, and leather upholstery is used, whilst in external appearance this car is undeniably distinctive and handsome.”

The Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 187) in the press

“Das Auto, Motor und Sport”, Germany, No. 23/1951, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“With the Model 220 it has for the first time proved possible to combine above-average driving safety, a sports car-like temperament and the comfort and solid good taste of a luxury car in a nonetheless relatively economical car for day-to-day use.”

“Motor-Rundschau”, Germany, No. 22/1951, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“Following the wishes of many Mercedes fans, the Mercedes Benz Model 220 is basically the 170 S, but with a 2.2-litre, six-cylinder 80 hp high-performance engine that allows high average speeds, even in the mountains, to be achieved safely given this car’s high level of handling safety. The result is a touring car with the spirit of a sports car. On the motorway, speeds well above 100 km/h are not perceived as particularly fast, so safe and smooth are the road-holding and power delivery.”

“ADAC-Motorwelt”, Germany, November 1951, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“Taken all in all, the driving characteristics of the 220 are not only well above the conventional average, we even dare to assert that anywhere in the world, there are only very few vehicle models possessing such well-rounded driving characteristics as this car.”

“Automobil Revue”, Switzerland, No. 5/1952, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“It is undoubtedly more than it seems. Its owners have the benefit of a fast, safe, comfortable and economical vehicle, the sum of whose qualities is only equalled by very few touring cars in this class and only exceeded by more expensive ones.”

The “Ponton” six-cylinder models (W 180/W 128) in the press

“Das Auto, Motor und Sport”, Germany, No. 19/1954, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“The absolute handling safety even at very high speeds is among the most striking attributes of this car. Even on very poor road surfaces, it shows no tendency whatever to drift off-course, and precisely negotiates the most horrible bends without the need for any special corrective steering action, and without any perceptible body roll. [...] Apart from its elasticity, the engine of the 220 exhibits exemplary balance and smooth running, with only a slight shudder noticeable when idling.”

“Motor Rundschau”, Germany, No. 21/1954, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“The Mercedes-Benz Model 220 is a top-class product in European car engineering. Although we are very careful about our use of superlatives, they are unavoidable in this case and with reference to the now very mature, high-performance engine with its smooth and flexible temperament [...].”

“Automobil Revue”, Switzerland, No. 9/1955, on the Mercedes-Benz 220:
“The Model 220 a has become a top-class European car with a distinctive character, the embodiment of general and technical advances. Yet even for the casual observer, and while maintaining a standard of quality that is now no longer the norm everywhere, it offers a rare combination of generous appointments, moderate exterior dimensions, outstanding handling safety and a comfortable suspension, an appealing exterior, a high level of equipment and economical operation. Getting to know the 220 a has further increased our respect for its world-famous creator, especially in view of the very reasonable price.”

“Das Auto, Motor und Sport”, Germany, No. 4/1959, on the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE:
“Weighing no less than 1,400 kilograms (fully fuelled, with radio), the car responds so directly to the accelerator that at least for a conventional, normal car, a new standard has to be applied. Together with the smooth running that is simply only achievable with 6 cylinders and upwards, we experienced a level of refinement that was once only the privilege of cars with genuinely large engines.”

The six-cylinder “Fintail” models (W 111/W 112) in the press

“Autocar”, England, 6 November 1959, on the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE:
“In summary the 220 SE has outstanding road manners, undoubtedly allied to the firm’s long experience in racing. In addition, it permits the achievement of high and sustained cruising speeds with very good economy. The interior is planned to carry five people and their luggage over long distances, in a manner matched by few other cars, irrespective of their country of origin.”

“Sports Cars”, England, December 1959, on the Mercedes-Benz 220 S and 220 SE:
“’Fabelhaft’ is the German word for fabulous and this about sums up the new 220 Mercedes. It sets a new standard for the industry, a standard that few manufacturers will be able to equal.”

“Auto, Motor und Sport”, Germany, No. 19/1963, on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE:
“The 300 SE is also something of an advertisement for Daimler-Benz, in which all the technical refinements the company has to offer are combined: air suspension, automatic transmission, power steering. […] There are not many cars in the world in which you can travel as comfortably and safely as in the 300 SE.”

The W 108/W 109 model series in the press

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 2/1966, on the Mercedes-Benz 250 SE:
“The lightfootedness, quietness and smoothness of its driving behaviour, the handling safety at high speeds and on bends, the outstanding interior appointments and the quality and careful design even of minor features speak for themselves, and place the 250 SE well near the top amongst the cars of the world.”

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 6/1968, on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3:
“We collected one of the carefully kept first examples, which did not yet bear the designation ‘6.3’. The absence of this designation no doubt surprised a few Porsche 911 and 911 S drivers – otherwise kings of the autobahn – who were left in the wake of the harmless and distinguished-looking Mercedes. Should any of them be reading these lines right now: there is no need to complain to the factory about their cars’ lack of performance.”

The 116 model series S-Class in the press

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 2/1973, on the Mercedes-Benz 350 SE:
“The pleasure of driving a Mercedes 350 SE is unfortunately an expensive pleasure, and can therefore only be enjoyed by a minority. This is regrettable, because for this large amount of money you not only receive prestige and a status symbol, but above all a wealth of benefits one would really like to see in any car: a high level of handling and accident safety, perfected bodyshell technology, outstanding comfort, high power reserves, effortless performance and an exemplary standard of finish. And all these laudable things convincingly come together to form an overall picture that makes one thing clear: one of the most perfect cars in the world.”

“Car”, England, June 1975, on the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9:
“A car of such speed and weight must have demonstrably good roadholding and handling, and this one is no disappointment in anything from a hairpin to a three-figure bend: the suspension soaks up the bumps, the transmission is wonderfully smooth and admirably easy to control (either by a sensitive accelerator foot or a hasty hand at the lever), and the steering is servo-assisted in a way that highlights the nearly neutral responses of the vehicle.”

“Automobil Revue”, Switzerland, 15 May 1975, on the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9:
“It is very gratifying that just at this time, a car has appeared that offers the very highest driving enjoyment for the aficionado – and at any speed. The 6.9 is not only testimony to the optimism for the future expressed by its creators, but also of their courage to stand by their convictions.”

The 126 model series S-Class in the press

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 22/1979, on the 126 model series S-Class:
“When driving, it quickly becomes obvious that quietness is one of the major civil duties at Daimler-Benz. Even in the six-cylinder models, the noise generated by the mechanical systems remains discreetly in the background – and it is amazing how thoroughly the Mercedes developers have banished wind noises.”

“Road & Track”, USA, February 1980, on the S-Class series 126:
“Hurrying back through the woods over a rather bumpy stretch of road, I was reminded of how well a Mercedes rides and handles. A live-axle car could be made to do the latter, but not without scrambling your brains. The W 126 does a marvellous job at both tasks and stops quickly too.”

“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, Germany, 24 May 1986, on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE:
“The 300 SE makes its way like a ship on a set course. The springs and dampers swallow road bumps with the greatest serenity. No other car turns steel and rubber into more comfort. The large steering wheel allows you to position the car carefully on a bend, or you can simply throw it into bends with abandon. It will do anything you like. The suspension has unusually high safety reserves.”

The 140 model series S-Class in the press

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 7/1991, on the Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL:
“Given the inside dimensions, not much needs to be said about interior spaciousness: it is quite frankly wasteful, and in the rear more than the front, because the generous headroom in the rear is particularly suitable for evoking the impression of a mobile living room. […] It would not be wrong to call this the best car in the world – and especially in the case of Mercedes, less would also have been too little.”

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 12/1991, on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE:
“The size and weight of the new S-Class has almost become a political controversy. But to give the truth its due, when you drive it, you feel it less than expected. Instead it is surprising how nimbly and effortlessly this mighty car can be driven even on narrow and winding country roads.”

“Road & Track”, USA, December 1991, on the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL:
“At a 70 mph cruise, the 500 SEL has the honor of being the quietest car we have ever tested – a mere 64 dBA. Helping in the serenity department is double-pane side glass, with dehumidified air sealed between the panes. It’s said to prevent fogging as well as absorb noise, and no, Mercedes assures us, it isn’t bulletproof, a question some ask when they see its thickness.”

“mot”, Germany, No. 13/1991, on the Mercedes-Benz 400 SEL:
“With the new S-Class, Mercedes is once again asserting its claim to have invented the motor car and to build the best cars in the world. And in view of the 400 SEL, one cannot avoid admitting that this claim is probably justified.”

The 220 model series S-Class in the press

“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, Germany, 13 October 1998, on the 220 model series S-Class:
“The still quite sizeable saloons, despite a lower weight and reduced dimensions, exhibit a manoeuvrability and agility that we have never previously encountered in this vehicle class. At the same time the suspension ensures such a precise wheel location and response to steering movements as one would normally only obtain with seriously compromised comfort. The air suspension as standard equipment for all variants practically turns the Mercedes saloon into a flying carpet that detects turbulence before it occurs. Every S-Class should have one of the once very popular signs in the rear window: The boss drives himself here.”

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 25/1998, on the Mercedes-Benz S 320:
“It is also Airmatic and ADS that give the large saloon its very controllable and agile handling without significant body roll. They are supported in this by the precise, speed-sensitive power steering which allows the almost two-tonne saloon to be controlled like a compact car.”

"Road & Track", USA, January 1999, on the Mercedes-Benz S 500:
“In the meantime [until the S 600 arrives], the S 500 is quite a worthy flagship: quick, quiet, stable and yet commendably nimble. Whereas the previous S Class miraculously shrank the faster it was driven, in a sense this new on is already preshrunk; its excellent chassis dynamics evident at any speed, its comfort undiminished from that of the car it replaces.”

“Auto Zeitung”, Germany, No. 4/2003, in a comparative test between the Mercedes-Benz S 600 and BMW 760 Li:
“It is hard to believe that an engine like this could meet its match, but the turbocharged Mercedes V12 puts the BMW engine to shame. The sheer vehemence of 800 newton metres and 500 hp allows even better performance figures at low engine speeds, with the same, high refinement. Two turbochargers generate such smooth, gigantic power that even when driving at very fast speeds, the five-speed automatic transmission only rarely needs to change gear. This V12 is quite simply sensational.”

The 221 model series S-Class in the press

“Autorevue”, Austria, November 2005, on the Mercedes-Benz S 500:
“Lightweight construction, four rather than three valves per cylinder and variably adjustable shifting camshafts combine [in the V8 engine] to generate 530 newton metres of maximum torque, after just under six seconds, and precisely accompanied by the 7-speed automatic transmission, the speedometer needle passes the 130 km/h mark, the 100 km/h mark having already been reached after 5.4 seconds  – a 911 Carrera is only four tenths faster – yet everything stays calm, orderly and unruffled: The air suspension serenely copes with any irregularities and sheds the centrifugal forces, sometimes gently (Comfort mode), sometimes forcefully (Sport mode, 20 millimetres less spring travel).”

“auto, motor und sport”, No. 3/2009, on the Mercedes-Benz S 600:
“The [well-balanced handling] suits the matter-of-factness with which an S 600 gives rein to its 830 newton metres of torque. A remote hissing noise accompanies it in the overtaking lane, quiet enough to perceive wind noise and the breathing of the dynamic seats as intrusive: meanwhile it rockets from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, and needs just 15.1 seconds to reach the 200 km/h mark.”

“Road & Track”, USA, March 2009, on the Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid:
“Here in the U.K. and Europe, diesels are our favored means of extracting the maximum economy from cars, but hybrids such as this one are valid where diesel isn’t available or liked. Furthermore, this is just the first of a series of hybrids that we’ll see coming from the company that revolutionized personal transport way back in the 19th century.”

“Car”, USA, September 2010, on the Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG:
“With seven gears and peak torque available from 2.000 rpm, the S 63 is effortlessly fast in the manner big luxury cars should be. Wring it out and it’s a maniac, with a rich, cultured soundtrack in accompaniment. AMG’s tweaking of Active Body Control brings added agility combined with real comfort, though the S 63’s size and lifeless steering eventually curb your enthusiasm.”

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, No. 12/2011, on the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI:
“The new S 250 CDI really does stand the luxury car scene on its head. No other car offers the same level of comfortable travel with such a low energy consumption as this Mercedes. Moreover, the buyer by no means needs to make reluctant concessions when it comes to driving refinement, as the twin-turbocharged, four-cylinder engine delivers more than adequate performance and noise insulation is practically perfect.”

The 222 model series S-Class in the press

“Auto Zeitung”, Germany, issue 26/2013, on the Mercedes-Benz S 500 4MATIC in a comparative test:
“The benchmark in this regard [safety equipment] is set by the S-Class. The brand from Stuttgart has the most comprehensive range of technologies for accident prevention and passenger protection on offer. Mercedes is the only one to already have an emergency brake assistant and road sign recognition, amongst other things, as standard.”

“Autorevue”, Austria, issue 10/2013, on the Mercedes-Benz S 500:
“The doors now swing heavier, the seams in the leather seem more hand-stitched, the silver around the air vents appears more aluminium.”

“Auto Bild”, Germany, issue 49/2013, on the Mercedes-Benz S 500:
“It is good to know there are still constants in our fast-moving time. For example, this one: when a new S-Class comes out, the question ‘is this the perfect car?’ naturally arises. Asking it is practically the law in automotive journalism.”

“Autorevue Premium”, Austria, 2015, on the Mercedes-Maybach S 500:
“In terms of noise it makes no difference how fast we are travelling. The background noise in the interior is no different at 130 than it is at 160 or 190 km/h and above. Of course, this also applies, indeed above all, to the rear seats. Mercedes says that, despite the large windows, this is the quietest production saloon in the world. It couldn’t be better.”

“Auto Zeitung”, Germany, issue 12/2013, on the Mercedes-Benz S 500 with long wheelbase:
“That this is a long version of the S 500 is initially not apparent. The additional 132 millimetres of length are distributed harmoniously across the body totalling 5,246 millimetres.”

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, issue 12/2014, on the 222 model series Mercedes-Benz S-Class:
“With safety-optimised assistance systems, economical hybrid drives and outstanding comfort, the new S-Class sets standards.”

“Autorevue”, Austria, issue 11/2013, on the Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG:
“The centrepiece of the further consolidation of elevated automotive existence is, in this case, the twin-turbo engine, from which an extra 30 kW, or 41 hp, have been squeezed out compared to the predecessor.”

“Car”, Great Britain, 18 April 2017, on the facelifted 222 model series Mercedes-Benz S-Class:
“The S-Class has always been a pioneer in the tech world, often premiering tech that goes on to become mainstream elsewhere. Don’t believe us? You have Mercedes to thank for introducing the production car to anti-lock braking, seatbelt pretensioners, electronic stability control and more... This one is about to usher in a whole raft of tech - and the brand’s new generation of straight six engines.”

“Motor Authority”, USA, 20 April 2017, on the occasion of the 222 model series S-Class facelift:
“The current S-Class has been a huge hit for Mercedes-Benz. Over 300,000 examples have been sold since the car went on sale in 2013, and that’s the figure for sedans only.”

“auto, motor und sport”, Germany, issue 16/2017, on the Mercedes-Benz S 560 4MATIC (combined fuel consumption: 2.6-2.5 l/100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 59-57 g/km, combined electrical consumption: 20.2-20.0 kWh/100 km): “The COMAND system comes as standard, as does the AIRMATIC chassis. This ensures sleek rolling off and soft suspension comfort, which the facelifted S-Class seemingly does a better job at than the previous version. And it is quiet in the car – so quiet that at a low volume the slightest oscillations of David Lindley’s violin bow can be heard.”

“Autocar”, Great Britain, 19 September 2017, on the Mercedes-Benz S 350 d with long wheelbase (combined fuel consumption: 6.0-5.9 l/100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 160-156 g/km):
“The best mass-produced luxury saloon in the world just got better.”

“Autorevue”, Austria, issue 11/2017, on the Mercedes-Benz S 400 d 4MATIC with long wheelbase (combined fuel consumption: 6.3-6.2 l/100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 166-162 g/km):
“The driving experience is truly (S-)class – crisply pressed, top quality.”