S-Class driving into the future

BOBBY CHEETHAM

WHAT is the best car in the world? Well, we may have just driven it! Last week Mercedes-Benz South Africa launched the S-Class range in the Western Cape and, boy, what a car it is. Bristling with technology, the new Merc is one hell of a way of getting from A to B.

While we are talking about launches, this one was arguably the best (read most expensive) one we have ever attended in South Africa.

Merc must have spent millions on it, but let it be said, the S-Class is the way cars of the future will be built and the launch was worth every penny spent.

They have set a new benchmark for the motoring industry.

What is it?

The new S-Class range is the most technologically advanced passenger car ever built by the company, or any other manufacturer for that matter.

Available in either long- or short-wheelbase, powered by either petrol or diesel motors, or a hybrid model, the vehicle is the epitome of luxurious motoring and technology.

There are six models in the lineup:

S350 BlueTEC

S400 Hybrid

S400 Hybrid Long

S500 BlueEFFICIENCY

S500 BlueEFFICIENCY Long

S63 AMG

How does it look?

To tell the truth, not much different from the model it replaces.

There are many subtle changes but the overall appearance remains the same. More streamlined perhaps and with a lower drag co-efficiency, it’s under the bonnet, specifically the electronics, where the major changes have taken place.

Inside, one is bewildered by the vast array of controls and buttons and switches.

Although it will take a considerable amount of time to get to know your new Merc, a lot of it is pleasingly intuitive.

What’s it like to drive?

Absolutely superb, there is nothing else on the road at the moment to touch it for sheer driving pleasure.

From the sublime 350 to the utterly awesome S63 AMG, the new range of S-Class Mercs are untouchable.

Perhaps one word can describe it. Nirvana.

Oh, and something else about the driving experience, it is very quiet. The aeroacoustic specialists took specific measures to counter wind noise.

To reduce high-frequency wind noise, the sealing systems around the windows and door handles were improved considerably.

The roof structure and automatic tilting/sliding roof module were also subjected to further aeroacoustic development.

The combined effect of these measures allows the new S-Class to achieve the desired aim of being the quietest vehicle in its segment, claim Merc.

Any special features?

How long is a piece of string, one may ask. There are just too many to mention! We liked the pre-safe brake with pedestrian recognition and city braking function and the radio, which is a Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound system.

At the launch, only the two S63 AMGs were equipped with the so-called “Magic Body Control” system which continuously scans the road ahead for potholes and other obstacles and dampens down the ride. This allows for an almost impossibly smooth drive to be achieved.

We also like the fact that the new Merc is the first car in the world to use only LED illumination and not have any lightbulbs.

Should you buy one?

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of the best cars in the world – there nothing else on the road today that comes close to it.

However, that said, the S-Class is so technologically advanced that I wonder if dealers’ service departments will be able to handle the advanced complexities of these vastly superior luxury cars?

350 BLUETEC Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan

Engine: 2987cc

Power: 190kW at 3600rpm

Torque: 620Nm at 1600-2400rpm

0-100km/h: 6.8 seconds

Top speed: 250km/h

Fuel consumption: 5.9/100km (claimed combined)

CO²: 155g/km

Price: R1217591

S 400 HYBRID Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan

(SWB and LWB)

Engine: 3 498cc

Power: 225kW at 6500rpm, electric motor: 20kW

Torque: 370Nm at 3500-5200rpm

0-100km/h: 6.8seconds

Top speed: 250km/h

Fuel consumption: 6.8/100km (claimed combined)

CO²: 159g/km

Price: R1231101 (SWB) R1252201 (LWB)

S 500 (SWB and LWB) Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan

Engine: 4663cc

Power: 335kW at 5250-5500rpm

Torque: 700Nm at 1800-3500rpm

0-100km/h: 4.8 seconds

Top speed: 250km/h

Fuel consumption: 9.1/100km (claimed combined)

CO²: 213g/km

Price: R1573642 (SWB) R1775642 (LWB)

S 63 AMG Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan

Engine: V8 5461cc

Power: 430kW at 5500rpm

Torque: 900Nm at 2250-3750rpm

0-100km/h: 4.4 seconds

Top speed: 250km/h (plus)

Fuel consumption: 10.1/100km (claimed combined)

CO²: 237g/km

Price: R2186004

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