Benz takes the long limo view
There will be a handful of luxury variants, including an armoured job
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.”