Benz feels pull of grav­ity

Long and luxo S-Class fills the vac­uum left by May­bach

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

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.’’

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