If you've followed our BMW 740iL series of videos on our YouTube Channel, you'll know that I bought my 2001 BMW 740iL in September of 2015. Since then we've been filming videos and growing TestDrive into a regular show. One of our Must Have cars to feature was the W220 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It's hard to plan an episode like this, and it starts from the development phase; deciding which cars to feature.
The W220 hit the European market in 1998 and North America in 2000, a strange way to launch the flagship of one of the world's largest luxury car manufacturer considering buyer's in the US and Canada were excited for a replacement to the W140 but had to wait an additional 2 years. Because of this, buyers here had the option between the new W220 S-Class and the outgoing E38 7 Series for 2 model years, 2000 and 2001. Which is exactly what we have for our TestDrive Showdown.
Many people have commented on YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, etc., that the W140 would be the ideal candidate for the E38's Showdown, and I agree that a video on those two need to happen. However both these cars were for sale at the same time. An executive or doctor in 2000 would have seriously considered either one of these, and with the E65 launch most people ran for the outgoing model over the radical new design language BMW was selling.
The other complaint we've received was that the S-Class we featured was a base model, and the 7 Series was fully loaded. This is true, but many don't understand why. The S500 LWB without options was the same MSRP as a 740iL with navigation, parking sensors, and rear seating goodies. Had someone bought an S430 LWB with similar options, we'd have the same original price. However most S430s for sale in the Greater Toronto Area are short wheelbase, and the few that are long tend to be barebones base model. Same went for the S500s available.
Out of 6 W220s for sale around the time of filming this video, only 2 cars had rear heated seats, and 1 had rear climate control. The rest had no rear seat options, which is what we ended up reviewing.
We'd love the opportunity to feature the absolute best of each vehicle we do, a 2006 S600 and a 2006 760Li, both with ever possible option. The reality is when reviewing older cars we rely on owners instead of the manufacturer. Press vehicles are almost fully loaded with every option to woo journalists. Consumers tend to select what's the most economical which leads to many low-option vehicles in the market.
If you want to view our entire episode of TestDrive Showdown on the 2001 BMW 740iL vs. the 2000 Mercedes-Benz S500 head on over to our YouTube Channel and see what all the controversy is about!