Fleet News

Mercedes-Benz S320 CDI



IT’S not every day that we get 55 grand’s worth of Mercedes-Benz to play with for six months – and as you can imagine there has been no shortage of people queueing up to drive it since it arrived here four months ago.

The keys finally filtered down to yours truly the other weekend at a rather opportune moment as I was about to embark on 500-mile motorway journey.

The trouble with cars like this is that all the hi-tech knicks-knacks are incredibly complicated to use and you have to look in the handbook in order to undertake the most basic tasks.

I couldn’t even find where to insert my CDs for starters. When I did finally work it out, it was a most wondrous event – the centre console screen lifts up to reveal the CD slot – magic! (There’s also a six-disc changer in the boot).

Motorway driving is what this car does best and over the next couple of days I glided across the length and breadth of the country in the utmost luxury and comfort. The 3.2-litre V6 powerplant is whisper quiet at motorway speeds and the whole car wafts along as though gliding on air.

In fact, this is what it does – the air suspension has three settings which adjust the dampers and give the car a feel which can range from floaty to sporty. It’s best to set it on soft and relax, though.

What the big Mercedes is not so good at is parking at Sainsbury’s on a Friday evening. You don’t realise how big this car is until you try to winkle it into a space. Thankfully, parking sensors are standard. I suppose Mercedes-Benz reasons that the people who drive this car don’t go to supermarkets but have their food delivered by Fortnum and Mason.

Meanwhile, on the wing mirror front things are still as random as ever. Despite a trip to Mercedes-Benz Peterborough where an errant wire was plugged back in, the whole unit, which swings shut on locking the car, still doesn’t re-house every time when opened, meaning the view from the passenger side mirror varies from ground to sky.

The S320 has also been in to the dealer for a day for a recall on a fuel pump. But wing mirror niggle aside, the S-class is proving exactly the luxurious cruising experience we would expect.

Model: Mercedes-Benz S320 CDI
Price (OTR): £51,632 (£55,432 as tested)
Mileage: 7,850
CO2 emissions (g/km): 209
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £482 per month
Insurance group: 16E
Combined mpg: 36.7
Test mpg: 28.5
CAP Monitor residual value: £18,000/35%
HSBC contract hire rate: £970
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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