We sampled the cake, and found it good
Mercedes-Benz is known for building some exquisitely engineered luxury cruisers, but the 2012 S 350 takes the cake -- while managing to eat it, too. Even at this stratospheric level, nobody wants to be thought of as a resource-gobbling pariah, and yet there's no way this demographic is going to be caught dead trundling around in a Prius.
Looking at such a large, luxurious sedan, you'd be forgiven for thinking it the epitome of self-indulgent, ozone-destroying decadence, running on tankards of dinosaur juice, while dozens of rare species perish in its foul wake.
However, under the aristocratic snout of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC is a fuel-sipping diesel that, while emitting about as much noxious gas as a bumble-bee fart, makes the S 350 BlueTEC as close as you're likely to get to guilt-free automotive indulgence.
Privilege has its perks
My tester, in deepest black, is of the understated elegance favoured by old money, mobsters, and New England politicians. Instead of screaming "expensive!" it whispers of discretion and privilege. Honestly, climbing into the cockpit of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC -- redolent of leather, indulgence and riches only imagined -- my sense of well being is instantly elevated.
It's not just the knowledge that I'm piloting almost $130,000 of German-engineered luxury saloon. But once that door closes with a solid thunk, I'm isolated from all the distasteful trivialities of the world outside, safe and secure in a vault-like chamber of serenity that is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC.
Of course, there are the plump, fragrant leather seats that not only heat, cool and massage the tender backsides of its occupants, but also gently grip to hold them in place while cornering. One suspects that many owners of a car like the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC don't drive, but are driven, thus the rear seats are equalling cosseting and offer plenty of legroom. Further pampering is provided by electronic minions who, at the touch of a button, raise the rear window blinds or open and close the trunk.
Mind-numbing brace of safety technology
There's a host of confidence-inspiring safety systems to further cushion privileged occupants from harm in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC: Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist, which sense either an impending collision or unintended lane departure and apply gentle corrective braking inputs to counteract the vehicle's course and nudge it back on track. In the case of an unavoidable accident, Pre-Safe Braking activates maximum braking pressure and significantly reduces the impact's severity.
Although I'd initially considered myself one of the stalwart holdouts when it comes to technological nanny systems, I have to admit it's easy to become reliant upon them -- as I was to find out.
During a torrential downpour, I blissfully maintained my speed despite dismal visibility thanks to the lane departure system that kept me on the straight and narrow, while pre-collision warnings prevented me from even thinking of tail-gating. Perhaps it was the buildup of moisture, or maybe it was the Goddess-who-watches-over-all-driving-enthusiasts-in-danger-of-succumbing-to-the-technology-void... but suddenly there was a complete failure of all the safety warning systems and I was forced to rely on my wits.
Having driven the stupefyingly powerful S 63 AMG in the French Alps a couple of years ago, I can say with all sincerity that tromping its gas pedal was like being fired from a cannon. The 2012 S 350 may only boast 240 hp, but its 455 lb-ft of immediately available torque makes it more than responsive enough in daily driving.
As befitting such a stately cruiser, the ride in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC is poised and creamy, thanks to excellent, adaptable shock dampers and the 4MATIC AWD system. There's no point in driving a car like this hard, so after sampling the "Sport" suspension setting once, I was content to leave it in "Comfort."
The large, genuine wood-trimmed wheel provides direct steering that's sharp and accurate, if somewhat light. Braking, however, is surprisingly just adequate for such an otherwise superbly built car.
Diesel fuel economy icing on the cake
If the experience of driving the 2012 S 350 BlueTEC is the cake, then surely its 10.2L/100 km city and 6.2 highway fuel consumption is the icing. From inside the Mercedes-Benz S 350, it's very easy to forget that it's powered by a diesel engine, so quietly does it run. The pleasant reminder came in the form of gas receipts that totalled only $65 for an entire week that included a couple of runs to the big city and back.
The 2012 S 350 BlueTEC offers all the self-indulgences expected in a $130,000 luxury car, but is redeemed by its socially conscious fuel efficiency.
Let them eat cake, indeed.
This 2012 Mercedes S 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC review was originally published on Auto-Venus.com.
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