OUT OF OFFICE | CAR REVIEW
by Carl Wepener
Mercedes-Benz S Class - Poetry in Motion
The launch of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S Class in the Western Cape was the pinnacle of all the launches of all the manufacturers that took place during 2013.
This was not only a grand and spectacular launch replete with orchestra and the talented Chief Designer of the S Class, Gorden Wagner, informing us of how the S Class was designed and what influenced the design, but it was also the launch of probably the most luxurious premium vehicle available today. Mercedes-Benz has gone for ‘the best or nothing’ in the design and development of the new S Class. It has not been prepared to compromise on its core values – hence the new S Class is the totality of all that is possible and is the leader of the pack when it comes to luxury, safety, innovation and sophistication. In the short time since its launch in September in Frankfurt, there are already 30 000 units on order, and this
is a sure sign of the success of the new S Class.
The new S Class has exceeded all expectations with its modern looks, its numerous intelligent functions, and its comfort. Nothing has been left to chance, with every innovation serving as testimony to the excellent engineering and design efforts that have gone into raising the new S Class to new levels of achievement that surpass all expectations on the part of clients. As an example, there are 100 electrical motors throughout the car just to ensure comfort of the driver and passengers. Another first is the Magic Body Control that allows the S Class to keep you comfortable on any road surface as it anticipates the condition of the road ahead.
The comfort on offer is superb, with the interior and its multifunctional seats like a wellness Spa. The S Class is not only for the driver, but also for the passengers: the multimedia system can be controlled from any of the luxury four seats in the vehicle. There are two colour displays, one for entertainment and one specifically for the driver for information. As the S Class will be used for business purposes as well, there is a business package option available for the executive who wants an office on the move complete with wireless Internet, power ports and a desktop. Safety is never compromised and the S Class leads the field with safety equipment and intelligent drive that are the core of future developments to ensure even greater safety. In fact, autonomous driving technology is available in the S Class and is so advanced that the Mercedes S Class can drive itself. The only drawback is that legislation does not as yet make provision for such developments.
One can talk about the technology of the S Class for hours on end, but the ultimate test lies in actually driving the S Class and discovering how all the technological innovations perform when sitting behind the wheel or in the passenger seat. The Mercedes S Class looks smaller and more compact than it really is. It is superbly finished with the highest-quality materials, and attention to detail is excellent. The exterior is more rounded than that of the outgoing model and looks modern with classical touches. All the lights, both exterior and interior, are LED and contribute to a 75% saving on power requirements. The interior is again modern, well laid out and ergonomic. I have one gripe, which is one that I have with most of the German brands, and that is that the controls placed on the console between the front seats are for left-hand drive vehicles, thus placing the more frequently used or more important switches away from the driver of a right-hand drive vehicle.
Seating in the S Class is excellent and I have never before found such comfortable seats in any vehicle, although I have not used any of the massage functions which I know to be so soothing, especially when driving long distances. The S Class is built for comfort and enjoyment, whether you are a passenger or a driver. This was the first time ever that I wanted to be both at the same time. Mercedes-Benz promised us that the ride quality and lack of noise would be unsurpassed, and they are right. Except for tyre noise on rough roads, there are no other intruding sounds. With high speed comes a bit of wind noise from the mirrors, but it is never intrusive. Although we never pushed the cars very hard, we did go through Hels Hoogte with its winding roads. Here, the S Class stuck to the road and took every turn in its stride without ever losing its footing.
This is exactly where the leading technology comes into play and shows the intelligent systems in operation. I have never before found rough roads to be so smooth and quiet. We used the distance control for keeping our distance from vehicles in front of us. We also deliberately strayed over the centre line with the lane change warning system switched on, and the S Class immediately brought us back into the lane. Moreover, we tested the blind-spot mirror control, and this also gave us an audible warning when there was a vehicle in our blind spot.
I drove the S 400 Hybrid, which delivers 225kW + 20kW from its electric motor and produces 370Nm + 250Nm from the electric motor. I also drove the S350 BlueTECH, delivering 190kW and 620Nm. Both these vehicles are fast and their performance is great. Fuel consumption for the S 400 as tested was 10.1l/100km and for the S350 BlueTECH it was a respectable 6.7l/100km. Mercedes claims the S Class to be the quietest car in the world, and I agree – except, of course, when you are in the S63 AMG with the windows down. The S Class comes with a 6-year/100 000-km maintenance plan that can be extended.
Prices, as expected, range from R1.214-million for the S 350 BlueTECH up to R2.173-million for the S63 AMG. Our test vehicles were loaded with extras that easily added up to between R100 000 and R350 000 to the price of the car. I was given the assurance that, if you want to, you can order your vehicle ‘Standard’ and it will be available as such within a reasonable time. Driving the S Class is pure enjoyment and gives a sense of sensual purity mixed with tradition, glamour and emotion. At the launch, we had an orchestra with dancers and flowing violin music, which captured exactly what is experienced when driving the S Class. The S Class is going to be a bestseller in the super-luxury market and competitors will really have to work extremely hard to be able to come near this striking and technologically advanced chariot.
Well done Gorden and Mercedes-Benz!