Benz feels pull of gravity
Long and luxo S-Class fills the vacuum left by Maybach
THE demise of the $1 millionplus Maybach has opened the door for a wide range of new S-Class based luxury Benzes.
The all-new S-Class that hits Australia late this year is now the starting point for everything from a new-style S-Class coupe to a fully armoured flagship and a sixdoor Pullman model.
Some of the cars have already been caught testing in Europe and will soon be put through a sign-off drive in the US, led by Daimler chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche, around the upscale Los Angles and Palm Springs regions.
The first of the newcomers expected in showrooms is a very long-wheelbase S-Class that moves directly into Maybach territory, but likely with similar equipment and a pricetag less than half of the failed flagship.
There were two Maybach models, the 57 and 62 (the names referring to their length) but they failed to fire against the hulking Rolls-Royce Phantom and were also shunned by shoppers who also preferred the idea of a Pullman with a three-pointed star.
At the preview drive of the S-Class in Canada, head test engineer Uwe Hornig tells Carsguide: ‘‘ We are flat-out now working on the derivatives. We have a full order book for the next four years,. Yes, there is a coupe and a Pullman.’’
The extra-long S-Class never really went away but was put into the background with the advent of the Maybach and was mostly supplied with a full ‘‘ armour’’ protection package. A bulletproof S-Class is ready for action as Benz begins a rollout that includes a range of hybrids and development on a self-driving car that keeps within its lane on well-marked freeways.
The flagship hybrid will be presented in September at the Frankfurt motor show, with a plug-in package that drops fuel consumption to little more than 3.0L/100km.
‘‘ The S-Class is also an important pacesetter on the road to local zero-emissions driving,’’ says S-Class development program vicepresident Dr Uwe Ernstberger.
‘‘ The S500 plug-in hybrid will be the first luxury sedan in the world to emit less than 75 grams of CO per kilometre.
2 We already have prototypes that can drive far more autonomously than is currently permitted on public roads.’’