Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC 4Matic
Base price $109,900; as-tested $128,100
When the votes were tallied, the Mercedes won by a comfortable margin.
The Mercedes S-class pretty much defines prestige. It seems every president, potentate and powerful person in the world is chauffeured around in one. The 2012 version is available for the first time with the new-generation diesel found elsewhere in the Mercedes lineup. The 3.0-litre BlueTec unit sends power to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic system.
Giving up anywhere from 160 to 310 horsepower, it comes as no surprise the big Merc lost out in the performance areas. But it handily beat the others when it came to fuel economy and almost all areas that count in a prestige vehicle, including driver position, ergonomics, visibility, roominess, comfort, access, conveniences and entertainment features. It also topped the class in both NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and ride comfort.
BMW 6-Series cabriolet
Base price $106,800; as-tested $125,400
This drop-top luxury cruiser was equipped with a 4.4-litre V-8 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. A more confined interior meant the BMW lagged behind the Mercedes in most interior rankings. It faired mid-pack in dynamics and quality ratings as well.
Base price $139,000; as-tested $141,600
The supercharged Jaguar was the hot rod of the event. This beast, with 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, produced a stupendous sound and huge smiles on both road and track. Its third-place finish can be attributed to lagging in things like roominess, comfort, access, NVH, cargo space, fuel economy and ride comfort.