Benz takes the long limo view

There will be a hand­ful of lux­ury vari­ants, in­clud­ing an ar­moured job

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER

THE demise of the $1 mil­lion­plus May­bach has opened the door for a wide range of new S-Class lux­ury Ben­zes.

The all-new S-Class due in Aus­tralia late this year is now the start­ing point for ev­ery­thing from a con­vert­ible to a fully ar­moured flag­ship and a six-door Pull­man.

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 Los Angeles and Palm Springs.

The first of the new­com­ers ex­pected in show­rooms is an ex­tra long-wheel­base S-Class that moves di­rectly into May­bach ter­ri­tory, prob­a­bly with sim­i­lar equip­ment and a price tag less than half of the failed flag­ship.

There were two May­bach mod­els, the 57 and 62 (their lengths in me­tres, mi­nus the dec­i­mal point) but they failed to fire against the hulk­ing Roll­sRoyce Phan­tom and were also shunned by shop­pers who also pre­ferred the idea of a Pull­man with a Benz badge.

“We are flat-out now work­ing on the derivates. We have a full or­der book for the next four years,” says test­ing boss Uwe Hornig. “Yes, there is a con­vert­ible and a Pull­man.”

The ex­tra-long S-Class never re­ally went away but was put into the back­ground be­hind the May­bach and mainly sup­plied with a full “ar­mour” pack­age.

A bul­let­proof S-Class is ready for ac­tion as Benz be­gins a roll­out that in­cludes a range of hy­brids. Un­der de­vel­op­ment is a self-driv­ing car that uses sen­sors to en­sure the car will stay in­side its lane on well­marked 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 Dr Uwe Ern­st­berger, vice-pres­i­dent of the S-Class de­vel­op­ment pro­gram.

“The S500 plug-in hy­brid will be the first lux­ury sedan in the world to emit less than 75 grams of CO2 per kilo­me­tre.

“Plus, we al­ready have pro­to­types that can drive far more au­tonomously than is cur­rently per­mit­ted on pub­lic roads.”

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