Bottom line: The S350 is addictive. It can turn an Occupy Wall Street activist into a One Percent aspirant — while providing reasonable justification for the conversion.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets top marks in all three categories, although it might lack the edge desired by some BMW and practically all McLaren aficionados. It’s the rich car for the part of the One Percent that values comfort more than Walter Mitty fantasy.
Head-turning quotient: It engenders envy, lust, aspiration.
Body style/layout: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 4Matic is a front-engine, midsize/large luxury performance sedan with all-wheel drive and unitized-body construction.
Engine/transmission: A 3-liter, 24-valve, direct-injection, turbocharged diesel V-6 (240 horsepower, 455 foot-pounds of torque) is standard. It’s linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.
Capacities: Seats for five people. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 16.4 cubic feet. Rear seats can fold down for extra cargo room. The fuel tank holds 23.8 gallons of the required ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel.
Mileage: My real-world mileage was 16 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; automatic brake drying; pre-collision safety system; side and head air bags; and passenger head-restraint whiplash-protection system. Mercedes-Benz wants you to stay alive long enough to pay for this car.
Price: The base price of the 2012 S350 4Matic is $92,550. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $86,072. Price as tested is $108,605, including $15,180 in options (special-order leather seats, panoramic glass roof, distance-between-cars monitoring system, parking proximity warning system, onboard navigation with backup camera, and a host of other items) and an $875 destination charge. To shop efficiently for this one, price and choose options before you buy. There are too many options to select sensibly on a whim.