2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

  • 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S430 Sedan

    S430 Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      4.3L V8
    • MSRP
  • 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S500 Sedan

    S500 Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      5.0L V8
    • MSRP
  • 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S55 AMG Sedan

    S55 AMG Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      5.4L V8
    • MSRP
  • 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S600 Sedan

    S600 Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      5.5L V12
    • MSRP
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  • Review

2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review

A somewhat sporty, extremely luxurious line.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Mercedes-Benz S-Class screams status more than anything else. The powerful engines range from a 4.3-liter 275-horsepower V-8 to a 5.8-liter V-12 that puts out close to 500 horsepower. There is certainly no lack of power in these high-end sedans. They also handle well, almost like a sports car, thanks to the active body control and adaptive damping system. In addition, the lower two models, the S430 and S500, optionally come with 4MATIC four-wheel drive that provides impressive traction on any surface. The most exciting new feature for 2003 is the ?Pre-Safe? system that senses an unavoidable crash and prepares the seats and seatbelts for impact to protect the driver as much as possible.

The Range

Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 4.3-liter V-8, five-liter V-8, 5.5 supercharged V-8, and 5.8-liter V-12
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz S430, Mercedes-Benz S430 4MATIC, Mercedes-Benz S500, Mercedes-Benz S500 4MATIC, Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz S600

What's New

The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class gets a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system option on the S430 and S500. Both the S55 AMG and S600 have additional horsepower, putting out nearly 500 hp each. It also introduces the “Pre-Safe? a system that senses an impact before it happens and adjusts the seats and the seatbelts to be better positioned for a crash.


The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is designed to be sporty with a low coefficient of drag, sleek lines, 18-inch tires, and alloy wheels. With the coupe inspired curved top and sport transmission, there is a definite sportiness to the S-Class, despite its four-doors. All models have a moon roof that adds to the luxury.


The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is luxurious, ergonomically designed, and very comfortable. All models have standard extras like power windows and doors and cruise control. It includes Bose premium stereos and a navigation system as standard, while all models have dual power leather seats, leather dash, and door panels. There is also Alcantara suede on the pillars and headliner and wood trim on the steering wheel, shifter, grab handles, center stack, and door panels in the higher models. Unfortunately, there is still some plastic trim that seems a little cheap on such high-end models. The S55 adds premium wheels and a sport package.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class engines range from powerful to extremely powerful. Both S430 models have a 4.3-liter V-8, while the S500 and S500 4matic both have a five-liter V-8. The S55 AMG has a 5.5-liter supercharged V-8, and the S600 has a monstrous 5.8-liter V-12. The horsepower ranges from an impressive 275 in the lower models to a boastful 493 in the top two. Meanwhile, it also gets a 4MATIC system, which means a sedan with a well-designed all-wheel-drive system uses a mechanical center differential to split torque 40/60 front to rear under any condition. If grip is ever lost, the system uses four-wheel traction control to distribute torque to individual wheels using the brakes and the front and rear open differentials.

The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class' higher-end models also offer dystonic cruise control, which uses the brakes and the throttle to keep speed while maintaining a default following distance that can be set by the driver. Handling on the models is excellent thanks to the active body control and adaptive damping system.


The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has the ?Pre-Safe? system that prepares the car for impact when it senses an unavoidable crash. It also has dual front and rear airbags, and ABS. Some models have dystonic cruise control, which maintains a safe following distance when cruise control is turned on.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mercedes-Benz S430: 15/22 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S430 4MATIC: 15/20 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S500: 14/20 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S500 4MATIC: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG: 13/20 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz S600: 12/17 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • The powerful engines
  • ?Pre-Safe? system
  • 4Matic all-wheel drive

You Won't Like

  • Fuel economy
  • Cheap plastic parts in the interior

Sum Up

A somewhat sporty, extremely luxurious line.

If You Like This Vehicle

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See the New 2017 S-Class.

Front & Driver Side View

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