The kind Yakuza from Japan
I have been driving the S600 for some days now, in the city, on the highway and more curvy roads in the country side. It is what you can expect from this kind of car: Comfortable, powerful, luxurious, spacious and surprisingly anonymous. It is all what CEOs, diplomats, kings, (or drug lords) can wish for. This is truly an impressive car of by any standards. What surprised me the most is the way it makes you relaxed and do not eager you to drive fast like in a smaller more sporty car, still even when this can reach 288km/h if you remove the electronic speed limiter which is electronically set at 250km/h. What makes this car special are all the perks, accessories and massive comfort, not the ridiculous huge engine which is just a bonus.
As you turn on the ignition it makes a muted roar and then idles quiet, you can’t even tell the V12 M120 engine is there. It’s actually the most disappointing thing with the car, the engine noise, because it is non existent most of times. Makes sense for keeping the car quiet, but also removes all the fun with having such a powerful car with 400hp. When first driving it you really get surprised just how long and wide the car is, it takes some time to get used to. Driving it along it is like it can drive it self, braking is done by your big toe and steering by your little finger, although I do not recommend this of course. This S600 specimen is from 1996 and is 20 years this very year, but it feels like any modern German luxury car, in fact it feels years ahead of 15 year old newer Range Rovers. With only 58.000km on the odometer it is basically unused and from its Japanese background it makes it more interesting. Still even if it was ordered new in Japan it has the steering wheel on the left side for making it more special when used in Japan. Some buttons and menus in the navigation/radio screen are in Japanese though.
What put me off the most was the acceleration when pushing the throttle just to get up to normal speed. Not a slow one in the traffic!! With that in mind you can drive this like any other car just easing off the pedal more and especially if you have a cake in the back seat unsecured. Driving in the city the car is very comfortable and fast out of intersections, the only problem is narrow roads and parallel parking, but there are parking sensors to help out.
Everything with this car is electric, all the seats including the back seats, electric mirrors, electric windows, electric headrests front and back, electric curtains for the back window, electric servos for closing the doors (yeah you never have to slam the doors, just push the door to the end and they will close the last inch automatically), electric adjustable steering wheel, electric sunroof, electric etc…. and the list goes on.
The S600 has every accessory as standard equipment which is cool and why it was so damned expensive when it came out. The W140 is the biggest and most expensive S-Class model ever made and it didn’t sell well after the legendary W126. It was over-engineered, too pricey compared to the competitors, somewhat dull design and maybe just a little too big even for these kind of cars. After the W140 Mercedes went on a more safe approach with the next model with more success.
So how is the M120 engine? Well it is the most quiet beast of all time. Not sounding like a V12 as you might expect, only a slight orchestral V12 rumble when provoked. Oh God it is willing to drag you along, and the fun does not even stop, it just pulls more and more, I felt the most violent acceleration was when you pass 140km/h. This is truly an engine for high Autobahn speeds, which has very comfortable low RPM when cruising in the mid 100s. It is very easy to loose the license in this car since speed is this car can only be percieved when looking at the speedometer. Speed is unnoticeable, you really have to look twice at the speedometer and double check every time.
Even though this might seem like a sports car, it is not. It’s huge and heavy, even with adaptive damping system and stability things like electronic ESPs of all sorts it feels big. My mind keeps me from going crazy fast since I know this car is big, I don’t even want to go fast, just cruise along at a comfortable pace, arriving in style and not exhausted from overtaking a million times. Even though overtaking cars in this thing is so easy it’s not even fun in the end. Saying this, the handling of the car is amazing and it can be used as a sports car down curvy roads, but it just feels wrong. Keep an eye on that fuel consumption though, it is not insignificant and the 100L tank is for sure needed.
Could I live with this car? Sure! Could I live with the fuel consumption on a daily basis? No. Could I parallel park this every day in the city? Maybe if I had the patience. Could I take all my family and my house for an epic vacation/road trip with this car? Definitely!
I took some family members on a ride with this thing, they were quite impressed. Especially the back seat with the champagne fridge and so many electric play buttons and all sorts of fun stuff are amusing. Not often a car is more fun in the back seat, that really sums it up for the S600, even though it is so cool and drives like a charm, the backseat is in face a better place to hang out. Being in this car is like sitting in a cloud drinking champagne with your legs stretched fully with the AC blowing chilly on a hot summers day while you raise the rear blinds by the flick of a button to conceal your luxury from the dreadful world outside.
I would recommend this car for comfort seekers and for presidents that don’t mind sitting in the back seat. Driving can be done by more professionals that knows how to drive economically so they don’t use up all the petrol in one night. And that means driving efficiently, comfortable for the passengers and utterly boring.
Cheers, Robs out