Since its birth in 1972 the Mercedes-Benz S Class has been the unabashed symbol of affluence. Over the decades, the S Class has been setting benchmarks and trends for its competition to follow. I spent two days with the range topping S500 in Mumbai and needless to say it was a stunner; cutting edge technology, and exciting driving dynamics, make it a smooth ride.
The 2014 S Class is big. It’s close to 17 feet long and is more than six feet wide. An imposing glossy grille dominates the front, where the automaker’s insignia, the three-point star, sits proudly. Fluidic reflections run from the headlights to the boot, highlighting the elegant flow of the C-pillar while converging with the slanting rear end. All outdoor panels, including the mammoth headlines and the roof are made of aluminium.
MAKE WAY FOR LED
The 2014 S Class is also the world’s first car (a term you will be reading a lot in this review) to get rid of bulbs — including incandescent and xenon, and replace them with LEDs. The “smart” headlights are connected to a stereo camera that triggers motorised masks to block a part of the beam that would blind oncoming traffic. The tail and brake lights also vary in intensity depending upon the distance of the drivers at the rear at a stop sign.
THE CABIN: TECH, COMFORT AND LUXURY
Step into the S Class and it systematically takes over all your senses. It is the most quiet car on the market, second to the Rolls Royce Phantom. As soon as you close the soft touch doors there is an eerie silence.
Illuminating the interiors, 300 strategically placed LEDs that can be altered in seven ambient colours and five levels of brightness, give the cabin an ultra-futuristic look. The cabin feels plush with high quality leather cleverly used alongside aluminium and wood. It is a visual treat — on the dashboard, two 12.3-inch high resolution displays have replaced all dials in the cabin, excluding the elegant watch in the centre of the dashboard that is still analogue. The dashboard has a wraparound shape with ambient lighting that glows from beneath it. The centre display uses Mercedes Splitview: a clever LCD screen that allows the driver to view navigation information while the co-passenger enjoys a movie.
The rear passengers can access two 10.2-inch displays with a resolution of 960 pixels by 540 pixels that are fitted at the back of the front seats. The cabin is cooled by a four-zone climate control system with charcoal filtration.
THE ₹1.73 CRORE APPEAL
Every element in the rear of the S500 has just one purpose — comfort. Our test car came with the “executive seating package”, which replaces the three-seater bench with two individual seats. Clad in fine leather, the seats are controlled through buttons, and can recline up to 43.5 degrees. Being the S Class, its seats also offer massages with 14 air cushions delivering six massage options including a hot stone massage.
The executive seat (diagonally behind the driver’s seat) comes with self-cooling technology. For the first four minutes the seat fans ventilate the space to suck out moisture and then reverse the flow to blow out cool air. The back seat reclines almost flat, while the front seat reclines enough to become a leg-rest for the rear passenger. LED-lit cup-holders cool or warm beverages while tray tables fold up from the centre console in true aircraft style. To keep the cabin silent, more than 150 insulation components have been integrated to reduce engine, road and ambient noise.
After a long day at work there is nothing like some Mozart, a massage, while watching city-lights through the panoramic sunroof of this beauty.
Speaking of Mozart, the sound is channelled through a 1,540-watt, 24-speaker sound system, manufactured by the Berlin-based bespoke audio company — Burmeister. To deliver a 3D sound experience, they have placed three speakers in the headliner. Entertainment is crucial inside the S Class; media can be played from a DVD/SD card slot, streamed from the internet, USB devices, via Bluetooth, or the on board 250GB hard drive. In fact, each passenger can watch or listen to different media using the screen and headphone socket available for each seat. Like the earlier S Class, the 2014 model comes with remote controls that passengers can use to regulate almost every aspect of the car. New in this model is an app that can convert your Apple
or Android smartphone into a remote control. The company’s signature Comand interface has also been updated. It is even more intuitive and makes it easy to control a plethora of options and menus.
When I first drove the S Class I could not help but notice how quiet it was; it is silent beyond any car I had driven before. Powering the car is a 4.7-litre twin turbocharged V8 petrol engine that churns out 453 bhp, 700 nM of torque and can propel this 2.2-tonne chariot from standstill to 100kmph in under 4.9 seconds. The supremely refined engine has a 7G Tronic transmission that delivers barely noticeable gearshifts. The engine makes the drive luxuriously smooth: press on the long accelerator pedal and speed out of the traffic.
At slow speeds it cruises without any turbulence, with predictable throttle blips and negligible turbo lag. Despite its size and weight, the 2014 S Class chugs out 4.52km and 5.5km to a litre in the city and the highway respectively.
There are no configurable driving dynamics but just Comfort and Sport modes to tame the engine. The latter makes the engine peppier and the
suspension a bit stiffer. The adaptive air suspension is so brilliantly configured that even in Sport’s mode the car drives better than most of the other luxury sedans in Comfort mode. In Comfort mode, it’s like sitting on a fluffed ostrich-feather pillow – even on Mumbai’s roads.
Despite its sheer size, the car is easy to manoeuvre in city traffic. The wood and leather steering gives it a classic feel. Parking is a breeze too, a 360-degree camera system uses feeds from four cameras and represents the surrounding in a bird’s-eye view. It’s a bit confusing in the start but once you get a hang of it, you can even parallel park this 17 feet behemoth with utmost ease.
SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
All luxury saloons in this segment have powerful engines, fine wood, hand-sewn leather, premium entertainment systems, signature technologies and more; but when it comes to blending all these together it is Mercedes-Benz that hits the sweet spot with the S Class. It is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable cars in its segment.