If you’re thinking about driving a large luxury saloon and you’re not afraid of, well, basically just not afraid, then your ultimate goal should look a little something like the Mercedes S-Class.
It’s fear that ultimately keeps us from spending money on something that may not be as reliable as we’d need it to be. You’re thinking that even if you can afford something like an S-Class, you’ll certainly be left grabbing the bottom of your pockets once something goes wrong with it or when it simple needs to be serviced.
And yes, you’re right to think that way, unless you’ve saved up your money specifically for this type of an “investment”, and you’re ready to spend as much time as it takes to find a car in tip top shape. This way, you minimize your risk.
Another great way to minimize risk after you’ve already purchased the car is to enjoy the ownership experience without getting too attached to it. What I mean by that is, sell it after a year or so. Just enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t stick around for when it needs any new (and expensive) parts.
Also be willing to take a financial hit if you need to sell it a lot sooner than anticipated – like say if something goes terribly wrong with it after only a couple of months.
So why the S-Class? And specifically why the W221? Well, allow me to explain.
Reason #1 – It may not be the ultimate driving machine, but it’s the ultimate luxury machine
One word…Airmatic. Trust me on this, there’s literally nothing out there (within a used W221’s price range) that rides the way the S-Class can. It doesn’t handle as well as an E65 7 Series, D3 Audi A8 or even a VW Phaeton (three other used luxury saloons you can get for roughly the same price globally), but you’ll certainly never think to yourself how badly you’d want to powerslide around corners while you’re behind the wheel.
In terms of comfort, you can’t do any better. You just can’t.
Reason #2 – It may be old, but it’s got plenty of cool tech
Consider this: The W221 S-Class was introduced back in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, featuring goodies such as the infrared Night View Assist, a pre-collision system (which should work), rear-view camera, heated/cooled seats, TV, Airmatic suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlights and of course the good old Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system – which will definitely get the hairs on your arms to stand up.
Reason #3 – It’s not as thirsty as you’d think
If you’re embarking on this journey while living in the U.S, well, fuel consumption probably won’t be your biggest worry. Besides, most used W221 S-Class models over there come with an S550 badge – which won’t win you any favors with people who drive hybrids anyway.
In Europe however, you’re a bit spoiled for choice when it comes to the W221. Let me lay it down for you like this: Worst case scenario, you go for the 2006 S320 CDI (cheapest to purchase), which has a 3.0 liter turbodiesel engine, good for 235 PS and 540 Nm (398 lb-ft) of torque. It will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.5 seconds and average around 8.3 liters / 100 km (28.3 mpg US / 34.0 mpg UK) if driven sensibly.
Best case, you go for the 2009 (facelifted) S350 CDI model, or the somewhat controversial S250 CDI which comes with a 2.2 liter four-pot, only good for 204 PS and 500 Nm (368 lb-ft) of torque. Guess what though, this is a very decent engine (it’s actually great in the E-Class), and even though you won’t average as little as 5.7 liters / 100 km (41 mpg US / 49 mpg UK) like it says in the manual, you’ll still be driving one seriously fuel efficient limousine.
Reason #4 – Seriously good looking? Check. Devilishly imposing? Double Check
The W221 was a totally different car compared to the W220. It had really sharp styling and those wide fender arcs still make me feel all warm inside even to this day. You can park it next to a Rolls-Royce, a Maybach, a Bentley, plus all types of exotic cars, and it will never feel out of place.
Like I said before, it’s the ultimate luxury machine. Hopefully I can put together a few great pics in the photo gallery for those of you that still aren’t convinced.
Reason #5 – A used W221 S-Class is better than the D3 A8 and cheaper than the F01 7 Series
Yes, in a way, it’s an obvious choice. I would have probably written this article about the F01 7 Series if they had slightly better prices on the second-hand market. But it’s a couple of grand more expensive than the Merc, and that sort of defeats the purpose here.
Now for the bottom line. Are we going to spend something like €15,000 to €20,000 (say if you’re shopping from Germany) or $18,000 to $30,000 in the USA (from a quick look at ebay, at least) for a used W221 S-Class? Probably not. We’d probably talk ourselves out of it and get a Passat with great mileage and a spotless service history, while thinking there’s still time to fulfill our dream of owning a large luxury car sometime in the future. The thing is, we’d probably be lying to ourselves.
There’s often no time like the present.