The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been the pinnacle of luxurious motoring and the latest incarnation is no different. This car has leapt forward and completely redefined the future of motoring.
The S-Class is an engineering masterpiece loaded with technology that is so well infused into the design of the car that it seems completely natural. The beauty of great tech is that one doesn’t think it is necessary until it is presented to you.
The contours of the S-Class strike the perfect balance of elegance and subtle sportiness. It certainly looks like an S-Class but the 5.24-metre length is suitably disguised to make it seem like a smaller car from the outside. Step inside and you will be completely blown away.
The cabin is a state-of-the-art master class in interior design. There is nothing I have had the pleasure of driving that brings together top-quality metal, leather and wood in such a perfect blend of comfort, luxury and ease of use. Every function is performed by a button, switch or swivel that has been crafted to the highest level of quality. All driver information is displayed with two 31.2-inch TFT screens which present incredible graphic layouts.
From the pilot seat you will experience redefined refinement. It exudes comfort beyond what you thought possible through the car’s Magic Body Control. This system constantly scans the roads ahead and adjusts the damping systems to best deal with the road surfaces. The cabin has been impeccably insulated thanks to double glazed windows and enhanced door seals. It’s a cabin in which you could conduct business meetings without any interruptions from the outside world flashing by.
From the driver’s seat one can also experience the pleasures of being able to afford an S-Class: seat heating and cooling; seven massage functions, including hot-stone treatments; seat support that can be tailored to suit any shaped body, including active side support that hugs you when cornering; an impressive Burmester sound system; an easy to use COMAND online system that includes the operating manual in electronic form, something that is absolutely necessary in a car that is as complex as this.
At this level and price, safety need not be mentioned, but in the S-Class these features have shifted the paradigms of what I thought was possibly another 10 years away. The latest generation Mercedes Intelligent Drive system ensures the safest way to travel. The Distronic Plus cruise control reduces the need for driver inputs by braking and accelerating to maintain a pre-determined speed and distance from the car in front. It will even go as far stopping the vehicle if the car in front of you comes to a halt.
The Night View Assist system is another intelligent safety feature that alerts the driver of any animals or pedestrians before they can be seen with the naked eye. The beauty of this system is that it will automatically warn the driver of impending danger which could not always be said with some of the previous systems like this. An incredible array of parking assistance systems is also included. Part of this is the 360-degree camera that superimposes the car graphically into the surroundings by employing the views of the various cameras around the car. The result is an accurate bird’s eye view of the car as you manoeuvre in tight spaces.
The S-Class will be bought by distinguished gentleman, even presidents, and as such the rear passenger compartment is just as important, if not more important, than the front seats. In this area, the magic continues. The rear seats are soft, supple and comfortable, which have electrical adjustment to find the perfect position. As optional extras, rear passengers can also enjoy an electrically operated footrest as well as a business console that includes two AUX and USB ports, two 12V sockets and heated/cooled cup holders, folding tables as well as fridges and phones. You can also enjoy all forms of media on the screens. Thankfully, these screens can be operated from either the occupants themselves or by the driver, which when traveling with children can become a necessity.
The entry-level S-Class is the diesel powered S350 BlueTEC that is powered by a 190kW engine. The petrol powered cars are the S400 Hybrid, the S500 that is powered by a V8 4.7-liter bi-turbo motor, and the range-topping S63 AMG and S65 AMG derivatives. All these motors are amply suited to provide the thrust for this spectacular car and ultimately, the choice will most probably be swayed by a budget rather than a preference.
If looking at an executive, luxurious grand saloon, then you also have the option of the recently face-lifted Audi A8. Having spent some time in this car as well, I can vouch for the fact that it is superbly built, very comfortable and amply spaced in its long wheelbase guise. The 4.2-liter TDI Quattro is the pick of the bunch in my opinion but at the end of the day, it is still an older car with cosmetic and aesthetic revisions. The most talked about new feature of the Audi A8 is the introduction of Matrix LED headlights. Composed of 50 individual LEDs, the lighting system sets new standards in night time driving. The system works automatically and dims the light that shines on oncoming vehicles, while still keeping a full beam on the areas next to the car. So, as a driver you are able to see more of the road without fellow drivers being blinded. This fascinating technology extends to the indicator lights by allowing them to flash in the direction you are turning.
That said, the Audi A8 L 4.2 TDI Quattro is the same price as the Mercedes-Benz S500. Although the Audi is a good car, it is nowhere near the S-Class in terms of safety, comfort, innovation, technology and most importantly desirability. At this price, the S-Class is, dare I say it, fantastic value for money.
The Mercedes Benz S-Class has not just redefined its segment, it has redefined the future. Nothing else comes close.