Ever since the S-Class arrived in the 1960s, the model has stood for the most complete luxury package available. Cutting-edge technology, space, pace and refinement have always been S-Class attributes, with this fifth-generation edition perhaps the best ever. It's certainly now one of the most affordable, while also offering more features than you're ever likely to need. Buy an S320CDi and you'll be amazed at the fuel economy, space and comfort on offer.
10/99: Fifth-generation S-Class goes on sale, with most editions available in short or long-wheelbase forms.
6/00: The S55 AMG arrives, in short or long-wheelbase forms
9/02: There's a facelifted S-Class, with fresh headlamps and tail lights, more equipment and a new V12 for the S600.
Mercedes S-Class (1999-2005) Checklist
- There are masses of electronics; check that everything works and read the manual to ensure you don't overlook anything.
- Watch out for personal imports that aren't to UK spec; resale can prove tricky.
- Ventilation ducts can fill up with leaves and debris, leading to water in the cabin; check for wet carpets. This can also lead to the electrics shorting out.
- Corrosion can be an issue, so analyse all of the bodywork. Pay close attention to the door bottoms and wheelarches.
- Self-levelling suspension can lead to a flat battery if the car is left outside in strong winds; the system doesn't sleep!
- Build quality
We Don't Like
- High repair costs
- Thirst of V8 and V12 editions