The Sunday Mail
Stanley Makombe Motoring
MERCEDES Benz is among the world’s best cars and the S-Class is new again for the first time in a decade.
The good news is that the new S-350 was recently launched on the local market.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has just had a complete overhaul, from road to roof, incorporating breakthrough safety and comfort systems that classifies Benz in its own league in this segment.
Mercedes has used its flagship sedan to pioneer many modern technologies such as airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control.
Yet as the brand’s largest sedan, the S-Class has also offered the most room for rear-seat passengers, making it a favourite of the well-heeled among us.
Design and Styling
The S350 is a five-seater sedan with stately proportions and is armed with a V6 diesel 350Bluetec engine.
It has a distinctive look this time around with touches of Maybach ultra-limo about its flanks.
It retains a star motif on the bonnet (not the grille) like a gun sight and the roof-line is in the curving coupe idiom.
The rear end tapers in, giving a smaller-than-expected appearance from behind while the belt-line is high, punctuated with dynamic style lines.
Complex, high-tech LED headlights give the S-Class an earnest-looking front. Up to 95kg has been sliced from the S-Class hybrid alloy/steel body, but it still comes in close to two tonnes in the lightest variant.
Super low drag aerodynamics rate Cd 0.24, which contributes to the nearly silent interior.
Engines and Transmission
The S-Class has a seven-speed auto transmission and offers a superlative performance with relatively low fuel consumption.
The 350 has a 3-litre turbo diesel engine with 190kW/620Nm output and an incredible claimed 6 litres per 100km fuel economy.
Possibly one of the most interesting features is so-called Magic Body Control that scans the road ahead with a camera and adjusts the suspension according to the road conditions — in advance.
This feature will definitely come in handy on our local roads.
Safety equipment is vast and there is even a pedestrians’ warning through the night vision system that automatically flashes the headlights.
Getting into the S-Class is a whole new experience. The car has possibly the world’s biggest in-car wide-screen.
It also has virtual instruments with night vision and a new two-spoke, multi-function wheel.
There’s an integrated dash with door trims forming one unbroken sweep from side to side and a number of different fascia media are used.
The high-quality interior is lounge-like, classy and ultra luxurious, especially in the rear seats.
It’s a cavern of high-end components like Burmester audio, sumptuous leather upholstery, telematic control, on board WiFi hotspot for the Internet, seven ambient lighting choices, luxury head restraints. Forget business class.
With a few select options, this S-Class easily becomes more luxurious than a lot of first-class cabins.
While for most cars the focus is on the driver, in the S-Class the most important seat is at the back. It is like being whisked away in a comfy lounge chair. ‘S’ is clearly not for “small”.
Not only does the long wheelbase model provide acres of legroom, but models equipped with power-adjustable rear seats (standard on long wheelbase; a cost option on normal wheelbase) provide up to 37 degrees of backrest recline.
Options for backseaters include individual rear entertainment screens (which automatically adjust their angle when the front seats are moved), seat heating and ventilation, a fridge and individual rear seats with aircraft-style fold-out tables.
Outside there is a hands free boot (opening and closing), panoramic glass sunroof, adaptive high beam, 360 degree camera view from four cameras, active park assist and a swag of safety and driver assist features.
There are even climate control seats for added comfort. When you get into the S-Class you will be forgiven for not wanting to get out from the comfort because of the ambiance.
It has excellent performance across the range and is smooth and silent.
With a wide expanse of a bonnet in front, the S-Class is very big but can still deliver a somewhat sporty feel.
The basic package for the car is still the same – it’s a giant, cosseting lounge room on wheels – and you can take delivery of this beauty from US$180 000 to US$250 000 depending on the specs you chose.
The AMG kits are also available for a price of around US$8 500 to give the ride that irresistible look.
And the fact that a local maverick businessman paid for two such units on the day it was launched just goes to tell that the above figures are not anything to be concerned about as money should not be a problem to you when you chose the S-Class.
Stanley Makombe is managing director of Royal Auto Solutions and Radio Car Torque producer/presenter.
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