* Prices may differ from that shown
As a brand, Miele are particularly chuffed with themselves for 2011 so far. "Which" consumer organization/magazine have pasted three awards on this brand; best award for "best retailer," best domestic brand and a couple of accolades for many of their vacuum cleaners, including my S4 Ecoline, a model that I didn't think cut the mustard and would test my doubts by breaking early a couple of months ago due to it being used to pick up grit following a night of snow - and the grit contained water that destroyed the motor. After a battle royale with Miele UK customer service (review pending), I was offered the S6 Eco at a reduced cost price (£128) - but the S6240 model is anything but technologically advanced...this is a long review.
Side by side when comparing the S4 against the S6, there isn't much that is particularly new. Miele has concentrated on the better aspects of the previous S4 design and wrapped the design in a slightly plastic raised shoulder design whilst retaining a soft and curvy look with a quality shine to the plastic and keeping metal inserts to a minimum since this model, the S6240 is an "eco-friendly" vacuum cleaner. If you were led to the impression judging by Miele's world wide advertising to boost the S6 and assume that all the models come with the novel cloth material that is supposed to cover the entire body of the vacuum to protect it from scrapes, as well as lend a tactile edge, then be prepared to be disappointed. None of the vacuums bar the top of the range "Velvet" (hence the name) comes with a fabric body to withstand scrapes - which is a bit less thought out given the amount of wear and tear vacuums would go through, daily banging off corners in the home, being dragged over carpet frames and general use scuffing walls - no less than any more wear if you buy the "Cat and Dog" model. What a missed marketing opportunity, and singling out buyers who can't afford to spend £250 to £285 cost price for the top flagship model. The Germans are masters of increasing prices per feature and Miele is no different - this is what you'll find as a buyer when you tap into the Miele brand.
At least "fitted as standard" aspects mean wider shaped pedal functions that are more welcomed for powering up and a soft touch "tap once" auto cord rewind pedal instantly rewinds the total amount of 5.5 metre cord back in, rather than doing an unbalancing act and keeping your foot on the pedal. Fear not if you think the mains cord sounds short - the longer hose and twin stainless steel suction tubes do give you extended reach - and the price you pay here is really for a cut down S6 with a low energy suction motor that is supposed to give the same power as a 2000 watt motor. Sad to say it, but we UK buyers are lucky that we don't really have to watch power bills increase when it comes to vacuum cleaner usage. The amount of power that a vacuum cleaner uses is minimal compared to the power of lifestyle essentials like a fridge freezer! Miele Marketing over power play here!
Just like my S571 cylinder, S381, S4210 and S5211, the new Miele S6/S6240 has a comforting feeling that it should ooze quality, particularly when everything moves quietly on the body of the vacuum including a rotary suction dial that has pre-selections of suction speeds available and typically Miele, the noise level between 65 to 68 decibels is much quieter than a Dyson or Hoover will ever hope to be, claiming figures like 71 and 75 decibels being quiet! Like the previous S4 Ecoline, the feat of Miele's design expertise suddenly goes kaput when aspects don't quite turn out the way Miele's men in white coats have ticked the boxes on their clip boards. For a start, the Miele S6 Eco is hampered somewhat by a new floor head design that gives owner added stress of pushing around. It may well have two pedals for added strength and durability, but they are very stiff to push down and to flip the brushes back up for carpet performance means you can actually tip the edge upwards thanks to the naturally thin tapering at the ends of the pedals - not that the user manual ever points this out due to different markets and an endless reminder that this vacuum is sold in many continents that don't always have the same features - and needs someone like me - a consumer to point this out in a heavily analysed review. If you try to push down on the pedals - they are very sore to the feet without the use of the tapering edge! Other aspects of the new "AirTeq" floor head:
1. The total weight is still 765 grams, so it is a heavy old thing compared to the 544 grams of Miele's standard suction only floor head.
2. The heavier weight ensures less usage of higher power for easier gliding as well as better pick up - when cleaning short pile carpets or floors - because, despite the low powered motor, the Miele S6 Eco has plenty of suction until the dust bag on board is beginning to fill up to full capacity - much better than the 100 watts more 1300 S4 Ecoline I had.
3. The AirTeq "double pedal" is very similar to that of the performance of the "single" pedal AirTeq featured on the S4 Ecoline. There are two large plastic wheels on the back that support movement, but on tiled floors, the wheels squeak since they are not rubber lined and whilst pick up is always excellent, the sound of the floor head on hard flooring is disconcerting and lacking quality - not the quality expectations Miele would have you believe.
4. The unnecessary and over elaborate design allows the wheels to lift up at the back when the floor head is pushed forwards, irritates carpet pile and when pulled backwards, the wheels lay on the floor for increased control and direction and then flatten the pile.
5. The height of the floor head is also taller than before, so it struggles to get under radiators or wall heaters.
6. Miele have also put a silly front plate on the sloping part of the new AirTeq suction floor head where the name is (though not a name plate) which sits above the central suction ribbed tube before leading to the suction channel. Because of the gap between the front sloping "hood" and the ribbed flexible suction channel tube, the mains cord can get stuck between the partitions causing the mains cord to constantly get tangled up. Not exactly what I expected from Miele's design team and not a fault that ever occurred on the old "single pedal" AirTeq floor head since it had a flusher design and no open areas.
Despite "some design" disasters with the standard floor head, the S6 is super smooth to use when used once you get used to the heavy floor head as the main body rolls quietly on its three rubberised castors. The bent handle has a speckled plastic coating that feels weird at first but is supposed to be "grippy" to the hand but my hand usually slides off. As usual, Miele have elevated the machine slightly higher off the ground so that it jumps over the power cord instead of dragging and snagging on the wheels with ease and a quick first impression is its ability to be very effective in the way it works with you. Pity however that it doesn't remain stable when pulling all of the power cord out next to the vacuum, it tips up to one side - a downside to its lighter overall weight and against the heavier 5.5kg SEBO K, the S6 doesn't inspire stability. It is fine on stairs because it can sit upright due to its compact shape, but the top frontal exhaust means you need to constantly keep the front of the machine looking outward to avoid steps being burnt. You still get twin stainless steel height adjustable extension tubes (extending to 103cm) plus the floor head that locks on with button releases. Even if the hose measures 1.8 metres, that and the extension pipes are a lot to contend with in a very small home. Unlike the S4 with its fixed hose at the body, the S6 also has an almost 360° hose that turns at the body of the vacuum from where it sprouts out but even my old S571 and S381 vacuums had a 360° rotational hose, so Miele are backtracking here on design value alone, even if the angle doesn't full rotate but again allows you to continue vacuuming when the removable tool storer locked onto the bottom of the hose moves at different angles instead of tools flying off in one fixed position.
The flat upholstery tool keeps coming off however - a fact that is positioned right behind hose - so whenever the hose moves left or right abruptly, the hose rubs against the flat tool and pushes it out of the position mount.
The top exhaust on the body of the vacuum is still an irritant. Miele have been producing this design since the 1960's and still doesn't give up on giving the owner a constant facial of hot air and the force in which this vacuum gives off is forceful - unlike Bosch where air thrust isn't as strong. It isn't helpful when bending down to change the suction setting through the 6 pre-selective suction speeds and at the spec level you only get a Super Air Clean filter which can deal with normal traffic dust - but if picking up after pets or smokers, you'll definitely need the more expensive Active Air Clean filter or HEPA filter for allergy sufferers - and if you don't fit one, you'll be reminded each time you hover over the exhaust of just how dank traffic dust can get when left in a bag for 2 months, or if you need to check the irritating hopelessly smaller bag indicator window (LED on SEBO), or if you just want to change the suction setting. Sorry, Miele I'm no longer convinced - it just isn't healthy to breathe in expelled air all the time; not when there's an unwashable standard filter on board that doesn't hide allergens. Filters and bags are thankfully easier to fit and take out - and a breeze compared to any bagless vacuum on the market even when filters have to be washed - they're always messy to do and you always have to wait 24 hours until they are dried - before putting them back in.
What gets confusing early on when changing suction speed is Miele's daft approach to a "silence suction setting," matched by the decal of an ear and which by noise level proves to be poorly engineered. In the lowest and second suction setting from the off, the S6 is powerful enough without selecting the silent setting which is strangely higher up in the dial selections. This is thanks in part to the heavy floor head. The silent setting then provides more noise and more hot air flooding out the top - again, another ill thought Miele design detail here that just doesn't make any sense for all that Miele have gone to the bother of adding little decals to suggest which suction setting is ideal for the specific cleaning need. Select the "silent" setting and you'll find the floor head is impossible to shift along a carpet unless the manual air outlet is opened at the top of the handle and then have to put up with more noise. So much for silence!
Then, there are the reasons to wonder whether Miele has really thought about how compact a vacuum cleaner is supposed to be. This is simply because it isn't as compact to store away as the Sebo K series or the Bosch models that are currently on the market. This is because;
1. Miele made a mistake here in not offering the compact "Dyson Telescopic copied" tube that locks around the stored pipes on one side of the vacuum and the XXL handle that can be locked to the other side. This means that when the pipes are compacted down, the S6 isn't really smaller than the S4 it replaces when it comes to storage and Miele's persistence of putting the park position to the left hand or right hand side of the vacuum (where the XXL handle would lock if Miele had actually kitted this out with UK models) means the hose doesn't have much of an option other than winding it over the handle and let it flop around the body of the cleaner, taking up too much space than the hose really should. Then the floor head either doesn't sit flush or turns to the left or right, making it difficult to store in a very limited space.
2. By now and with Miele's so-called engineering expertise, the suction pipes should have better compactness given that this style of Miele suction tube has been on the market for more than twenty years! SEBO's K and the Bosch compact cylinders do it better with easier pipes that compact down in a smaller size and floor heads that can be mounted centrally at the rear whilst offering better-designed hoses and pipes fit for the justification of being compact and more space efficient. The Miele S6 is, after all, according to Miele, the "baby compact" vacuum cleaner.
As with all Miele cylinder vacuums you get three obligatory smaller cleaning tools such as short crevice tool, 360° rotational dusting brush and a T shaped lint strip upholstery brush that is also good for bed mattresses. They are all well made and bar the crevice pipe, the other two or three are largely noise free until you max the suction level. At least they are easy to use!
The thin plastic storer (flexible for a reason) however can also be unlocked and swapped over so that it sits behind the top of the hose behind the handle, preventing the owner from having to bend down to get access to tools, or if you prefer, the tool storer can be unlocked from that position and returned to the bottom of the hose if you don't like the tool storer directly behind the handle. It didn't take me long to tire of having the tools at the top of the hose, because unless you move your hand further down the handle, thus causing slight strain to an angled hand rather than flatter and not at the farthest top where it is the most comfortable to guide the floor head and pipe for maximum control and steerage, you'll find that the crevice pipe or upholstery tool constantly juts into the back of your hand or even if the tool storer from the rear looking outwards. Doh, Miele - ANOTHER DESIGN DISASTER! The Miele S6 may well have a rotational ring which effectively allows the tools storer to tuck under the handle, but in use, the ring seems to turn itself around constantly making the handling compromised by the tools being too close to the hand.
Don't get me wrong - the Miele always has lots of power - it is the design format of the body and some strange functions that let it down. The S6 does pick up lots of dirt in one go and for most buyers; this is the info they need to know. However, having been disappointed recently by a model that malfunctioned after it had picked up wet grit by a front door mat, the much-lauded "quality" that Miele has built up is beginning to wane with me. Miele fans will inevitably enjoy the new S6 just because it is new and just because it has a slightly edgier design to it. But for deep down thread and hair pick up, the larger turbo brush is a must even though the heavy suction only floor head on the S6 copes well with most dirt, it doesn't get hairs up very well from thick carpeting and it is a toil having to move the heavier floor head backwards and forwards until the deep down dirt gets picked up - not my idea of cleaning efficiency.
Where the S6 fights back over the older SEBO K series is bag capacity - on spec list alone. The FJM bags hold 3.5 litres against the smaller 3-litre dust bag in the SEBO. But, unless you're happy to go with the simpler and less filtration based Super Air Clean filter (one must be replaced every four bags) even with a free filter in each box of 4 bags (each bag is designed to last three months, thus a box of bags lasts a year in Miele's eyes) for the same UK price, you get double the amount of dust bags with the SEBO K and the hospital grade system in the K range is better value and healthier. You also get a 2.1 metre hose, 5 years guarantee and 8 metres of cord in 2011 SEBO K series compared to what you get with Miele. When it comes to cost savings, the Miele S6 regardless of the "Eco" tag and regardless of the fact that the bags have self seals built into them and 7 layers of additional filtration against SEBO's 4 layer bag, it still means more cost to the owner because of the amount of bags you get per box and the dust bags are hardly cheap at £9-95 for 4 bags each time - especially when SEBO's box of bags contain double the amount for a similar price. Talking of price, how much are we talking here for a low powered version of Miele's S6? £178. That's all. Nothing smaller although you may be able to get it for £20 cheaper online - but in both cases you only get a 2-year warranty. Spend an extra £30 and you'll get a 10-year guarantee bringing the price up to £208. Economical? Not by price alone!
Unless you treat your Miele with kindness and never pick up things like grit or wet stones, wet type dog foods or anything that has the tinniest bit of moisture, you'll be getting a machine that is well built externally but has a precious motor. Once water gets inside a Miele vacuum cleaner by any form of dirt, you won't get a replacement motor or any sympathy from Miele.
Sadly I don't recommend paying out £180 for this vacuum cleaner. Too expensive to buy and with quite a few design faults that are unbelievably ill thought out, Miele need to rethink their strategy when other brands like SEBO and Bosch have been making vacuums with better design details that Miele have simply chosen to ignore. For a baby cylinder vacuum cleaner, Miele just haven't moved on with their sizing choices and building in sensitive motors that are clearly not sealed enough, it isn't worth taking the chance of the extended guarantee. If you must buy Miele, seek out the bigger bagged S5211. It is heavier, but has a larger dust bag and is a bargain at the current price of £168. It is also far more established and thankfully, doesn't suffer from the S6's lack of design input. For the more compact cylinder vacuum, it has to be a Bosch or a SEBO K series vacuums - also helped by the fact that "Which" have made many of their models from each brand "best buy" products too. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2011
My quick video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd824IXa1I4
PS Video on You Tube (in German) Showing an S5 Ecoline versus S6 Ecoline:
Note when the tester taps the S6 with a pen - it isn't as well made as the S5.
In a trendy Pistachio Green finish, the lightweight Miele S6240 Ecoline Vacuum Cleaner focuses on tranquillity / This vacuum has a silence setting and a specially designed silence motor, providing you with a vacuum that cleans efficiently with minimum noise / The Miele S6240 Ecoline Vacuum Cleaner is equipped with an indicator to warn you when the 3.5L bags are full, so you can replace them without any loss of suction / Other useful features include a one-touch cable rewind, which reels in the cable so you don't have to, and the AIRTEQ floor-head, which is designed to produce maximum cleaning power when using less energy, improving energy efficiency / When quiet cleaning is important, the Miele S240 Ecoline Vacuum Cleaner is designed for the job! Characteristics Type Compact cylinder vacuum cleaner Power (Watts) 1200W Bag volume or reservoir (litre) 3.5 L Filter type Sealed system for filtration, clean air filter, motor protection filter Indicator for bag content Yes Ergonomy Telescopic tube Yes Cable length 6.5m Others Colours Pistachio Green Included accessories AIRTEQ Low Wattage head, upholstery nozzle, dusting brush, crevice nozzle 15cm Bag reference FJM Weight (Kg) 5.8kg / Short name: Miele S6240