Mercedes S Class
Want to arrive in style? This latest S Class is as brilliant to be driven in as it is to drive
The S-Class has long been the default choice of luxury limousine for the rich and famous. Since it first arrived on our shores in the 2000s, Mercedes’ flagship sedan has gone home to over 8,000 owners. And now, there is a new seventh-gen model to carry forward the charge. This new, limousine has been made available initially as a CBU and is loaded to the gills with even more tech than its predecessor. So, does it deliver on the luxury like we expect an S-Class to?
As before, it is the long-wheelbase version that has come to India, and at 5.3m long and nearly 2m wide, it is a sizeable sedan, to say the least. The latest one is every bit as regal as you would expect an S to be and commands respect like few other sedans can. Adding in a tinge of sportiness to the look is the AMG Line styling pack, which includes stylised bumpers and larger 20-inch rims.
Among details of note on the outside are the ‘Digital Light’ headlamps that feature an ultra-range high beam, which can illuminate up to 650m ahead. The S-Class also gets soft-close doors, though the flush-fitting pop-out door handles is something we first saw on JLR models. At the rear, the on-off lighting sequence on the full-LED tail-lights makes for cool viewing too.
The boot lid gets hands-free operation and reveals an average-sized luggage compartment that is enough for an airport run but not particularly spacious for such a large car. Some of the usable space is taken up by the amplifier for the sound system and some by the space saver spare tyre that sits under the floor.
Open the doors and you are greeted by a cabin that looks more cutting edge than a blend of old-world style with new-age tech, that we have come to expect. The screen-heavy cabin, with touch sensitive controls and active ambient lighting, looks absolutely cutting edge.
The large rear doors offer easy ingress and egress (not as much as a high-riding luxury SUV though) and once inside, you will have little to fault. Legroom is immense, with genuine real estate between the front and rear seats. The seats themselves are upholstered in nappa leather, are sumptuous, with as many as 10 massage functions, ventilation, heating and power-adjust for the backrest angle and seat base angle.
Those sitting on the left can also stretch out at the press of a button, with the co-driver seat sliding all the way forward and the rear seat adjusting for full extension; that is the backrest reclined to 43.5 degrees, seat base lowered and a powered leg-rest folding out for max support. What is remarkable is that even six-footers can sprawl out on this seat.
There is a lot of tech back here as well to keep you entertained. The S-Class gets dual 11.6-inch touchscreens for your entertainment needs, there is a 7.0-inch tablet that can be used to control certain car functions and also access the internet, or if you want to lose yourself in the music, there is a 31-speaker Burmester sound system with ‘exciters’ (Mercedes’ term) in the seats that amplify the bass so you can actually ‘feel’ the music.
Dedicated climate control zones, a wireless phone charger and powered sunblinds are some of the other goodies at the back. If there is something to bring up, we are not fans of the capacitive touch controls for the seat adjust that lack the tactile feel of Merc’s traditional controls, and as luxurious as the seats are, they are not designed to accommodate seating three abreast.
Moving to the front, the throne-like front seats (they are heated, ventilated and feature massage too) are as comfy as they look, the dash looks fantastic and all-around quality is expectedly first rate.
The really big (literally so) talking point is the 12.8-inch touchscreen. The portrait-oriented unit is your go-to control for virtually all in-car functions. The OLED screen is brilliant, the graphics are top class, and the system works with the slickness of an iPad. However, incorporating simple functions, such as for temperature adjust, is not ideal and it does not help that the voice commands trip up on Indian accents. Cool features include fingerprint recognition for your settings profile.
The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, customisable for themes and colours, is also part of the package. Unique to the S-Class is a 3D feature that adds visual depth to the display.
The features list is also expansive. The S-Class packs in a panoramic sunroof, rear seat neck warmer, connected car tech, wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, auto park and the brilliantly done 64-colour Active Ambient Lighting. The LEDs on the dash and doors pulse to flash warnings and the display changes to climate control settings.There is also a handy suspension lift feature to navigate over speed-breakers.
The list of safety kit is long too. The S-Class gets 10 airbags, a whole array of electronic aids, as well as advanced driver assistance functions such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and emergency braking.
The S 400d 4Matic featured here comes powered by a 330hp and 700Nm, 3.0-litre, straight-six diesel engine. Power is channelled to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic gearbox.
This being an S-Class, it is more about how quiet it is than how quick it is. The cabin is serene, there is little outside noise to disturb occupants and even the engine comes across as very cultured. You will not hear much of the diesel unit in average driving, and even when you extend, it sounds very distant. Mercedes also offers the S 450 4Matic petrol, which promises to be quieter still.
The standard fit air suspension too does its job superbly, beautifully arresting up and down movements, and there is a softness at low speeds. However, overall ride comfort is down on the last-gen S-Class due to the AMG Line’s 255/40 R20 tyres. The relatively low-profile tyres cannot completely cushion sharper road imperfections and there is even a slightly stiff-kneed feel on concrete surfaces; very uncharacteristic of an S-Class. Assembled-in-India models could and should make the move to smaller rims with more sidewall protection.
Performance is also effortless for this big sedan and you do not have to weigh down too hard on the accelerator for the S to reveal its punchy side. The 9-speed gearbox also plays its supporting role well by fluidly working up and down the gears. Add with it the S-Class masking its speed, and your passenger will not really know how quick you are going.
We could not get the S 400d 4Matic to match Merc’s claimed 0-100kph time of 5.4sec. Even so, the 6.9sec time for the sprint to 100kph is brisk for a car so large.
The S-Class may be a big and heavy comfort-oriented limo, but it is rather nice to drive too. Body control, even with the suspension at its softest, is pleasant and there is even a good amount of connection at the steering.
But let us not get ahead of ourselves. The S-Class will spend the bulk of its life in the city where driving a car so large can be stressful. Helping greatly to this end is the S-Class’ rear-wheel steering. As on other applications, the rear wheels turn for improved agility and high-speed stability, but in the India scheme of things, the biggest benefit comes in low-speed manoeuvrability. On cars fitted with 20-inch rims, the rear wheels can turn by up to 4.5 degrees in the opposite direction to the one up front, effectively reducing the turning circle by nearly 1.9 metres. A slick 360-degree camera and auto parking are other features your chauffeur will be grateful for.
The suspension lift feature comes in handy too, though you have to be careful over large speed-breakers even at full height. The S-Class tends to scrape its belly if you are not careful.
The S-Class has gone on sale at ₹2.17 crore (ex-showroom) for the S 400d 4Matic, while the S 450 4Matic can be yours for ₹2.19 crore. The pricing is high even by luxury limousine segment standards, but the fact that the majority of cars in the first lot of S-Classes for India are already spoken for tells you about the model’s mass appeal, even in the rarified space it plays in.
The latest S-Class is brilliant be driven around in — that it is also nice to drive is just an added plus.
Sure, the S is not quite India-proof as a luxury SUV might be, but as a means to show the world you have arrived in life, few things say it better than an S-Class.
Crime Today News | AUTOMOBILE