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Mercedes-Benz S320 L: Smooth and seamless

By Ghaith Madadha - Oct 12,2020 - Last updated at Oct 12,2020

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Set to be replaced with a seventh generation model unveiled in recent weeks that will eventually roll out in the Middle East, the sixth generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class model — circa 2014 onwards — remains current and feels contemporary, as revealed during recent test drive. 

Launched as part of a broader S-Class face-lift for the 2018 model year, the S320 L is a something of a high tax market special, sold in China, Singapore and Jordan, among other markets, seemingly in lieu of popular and more economical European market diesel-powered versions.

 

Elegant entry to the luxury segment

 

An entry-level model to the high-end full-size luxury car segment, and to prestigious S-Class ownership, the S320 is, however, not short on power or equipment as some Spartan junior S-Class models were in years long past. And nor is it short on style and presence, looking every bit the luxury chariot that one expects an S-class to be, with optional Designo line “diamond white” paint, as driven. Complementing its elegant finish, it also featured the sporty AMG line appearance package and enormous optional 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels well suiting its vast length. 

In terms of design, the long wheelbase S320 L is an unmistakably luxurious, indulgent and stately car with big presence, curved edges and flowing arcs complementing its huge prominent grille. A large statuesque car with none of the obvious ostentatious demeanour of some competitors, the S320 nevertheless has a sense of refined discretion and sense of class about it. Elegant in profile, surfacing and detail, the S-Class has an almost nautical design flow, with a subtly muscular shoulder line and arcing roofline that descend to a smoothly tapered and sloped boot.

 

Refined and responsive

 

Powered by a detuned version of the same twin-turbocharged direct injection 3-litre V6 engine of its pre-facelift S400 predecessor, the S320 is regardless still a swift and smooth drive. Using Mercedes-Benz’s newer, smoother and more responsive 9-speed automatic gearbox, is able to make better use of its reduced output over a broad range of ratios for optimised performance, economy and driving versatility. Developing the same power as Mercedes’ previous generation 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6, the S320’ seamless flow of delivery and near absence of low-end lag disguise its twin-turbocharged nature.

With responsive quick-spooling turbos, progressively sweeping delivery and an eager to rev top-end, the S320 feels about as intuitive and responsive as a naturally-aspirated car. That said, its delivery benefits from a broad, subtle and muscular underlying wave of torque that provides plenty of mid-range response and pulling power for over-taking and for climbing inclines. Developing 268BHP at 5,500-6,000rpm and 295lb/ft torque throughout a wide 1,800-4,000rpm range, the near 2-tonne rear-driven S320 L is estimated to accelerate though 0-100km/h in 7.1-seconds and onto 250km/h, and returns 8.2l/100km combined cycle fuel economy.

 

Comfort and control

 

Riding on multi-link adaptive air suspension with different driving modes including a softer, more supple comfort mode and a firmer, more taut sport mode, the S320 L adeptly disguises its enormity with light but accurate steering and good body control, as it snakes through winding roads with comfort, poise and good agility, for its class. Responding in a tidy manner when turning meaningfully into a corner in sport mode, the S320 L’s weight is evident as it shifts, yet settles gently against taut suspension control in its sportier driving mode. 

With little under-steer detectable and providing faithfully resilient rear grip when the outside rear wheel is loaded, the S320 L can however be induced into a brief moment of over-steer, before electronic safety systems vigilantly step in and it gathers itself. In sport mode, the S320 L feels more buttoned down on vertical rebounds from dips and crests, but nevertheless rides comfortably and forgivingly. At speed, the S320 L’s ride is as reassuringly composed, planted, stable and sumptuous as is typically associated with big Mercs and large Autobahn-storming German luxo-cruisers.

 

Wafting on air

 

A comfortable, cosseting and highly refined flagship luxury saloon, the S320 L’s air suspension smoothes out bumpy, lumpy and imperfect roads with aplomb, as it wafts along in its supple and smooth comfort mode. An ideal long distance high speed express, the S320 L is also more manoeuvrable and easier to park in town than expected, with its tight 12.3 metre turning circle, good visibility and 360° camera. Equipped with numerous safety and driver assistance systems, the driven S320 L featured an optional oil sump guard to protect from Amman’s sometimes unforgiving road surfacing and bumps. 

Comfortable and well insulated from noise, vibrations and harshness, the long wheelbase S320 L is spacious for front and rear passengers, with particularly generous rear legroom. Well-equipped with convenience and user-friendly infotainment systems, the S320’s seats meanwhile provide a terrific driving position and include a massaging function in front, rear adjustability and seat hot/cold ventilation in front and rear. Finished with quality leathers, woods and metals, the S320’s cabin has a welcomingly luxurious and comfortable ambiance as driven with warmer tones, but can be specified in a wide variety of colour and material combinations.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 3-litre, twin-turbo, in-line V6-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 88 x 82.1mm

Valve-train: 24-valve, DOHC, direct injection

Gearbox: 9-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive

0-100 km/h: 7.1-seconds (estimate)

Maximum speed: 250km/h

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 268 (272) [200] @5,500-6,000rpm

Specific power: 89.5BHP/litre

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 295 (400) @1,800-4,000rpm

Specific torque: 133.5Nm/litre

Fuel consumption, combined: 8.2-litres/100km (estimate)

Fuel tank capacity: 80-litres

CO2 emissions, combined: 187g/km (estimate)

Length: 5,246mm

Width: 1,899mm

Height: 1,496mm

Wheelbase: 3,165mm

Track, F/R: 1,624/1,637mm

Overhang, F/R: 888/1,193mm

Aerodynamic drag co-efficiency: 0.28

Headroom, F/R: 1,069/995mm

Shoulder room, F/R: 1,516/1,501mm

Boot capacity: 530-litres

Kerb weight: approx. 2,000kg (estimate)

Steering: Variable electric-assisted, rack and pinion

Turning circle: 12.3-metres

Suspension: Multilink, Adaptive air dampers

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs

Tyres, F/R: 245/40R20/275/35R20

 

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