The best car in the world gets an upgrade
The Mercedes S-class has been at the top of the heap when it comes to luxury production cars but that has not prevented the company from giving it a mid-life face-lift four years after it was first launched in India back in 2014. That of course was a huge leap forward for the model globally as it became the first car in the world to feature only LEDs both inside and outside, had an impressive array of driver and safety assistance systems, was more focussed on comfort and luxury than ever before and included the magic body control suspension besides for the first time featuring many autonomous driving features. However, in India most of these features that relied on radar systems were deactivated due to the restriction of radar frequencies and we could not experience the full range of possibilities of the S-class.
All that has now changed with radar systems being active on the car but that is not all that has changed. While the V8 engine has moved up in terms of power and designation to 560 instead of the 500 globally, Mercedes India has decided to launch the refurbished S-class in India with only 6-cylinder engines, a V6 petrol and as a Mercedes first, an inline six diesel. While the petrol is designated 450, a step down from the 500, the diesel retains its 350 badging.
The 2,996cc petrol is a twin turbo unit and
apart from the high 367bhp that it achieves at 5,500rpm and delivers up to 6,100rpm, thanks to twin turbocharging, it produces is peak 500Nm torque from 1,600rpm all the way up to 4,000rpm. To drive, the petrol engine is great for Indian roads. With max torque coming in at so low in the rev range, it makes quick getaways in stop and go traffic conditions. No wonder it gets up to 100kmph in just over five seconds. We especially loved driving the car in the city and but it was good out of it as not only is the engine smooth but it gets up the rev range pretty quickly as well.
The 350 diesel on the other hand is the first inline six from Mercedes that we have seen and is also the most powerful diesel engine put into production by the German car maker. The 2,925cc engine produces max power of 286bhp and peak torque of 600Nm that again is generated from a low 1,200rpm. The best part of this diesel engine seems to be its NVH as there is no way that the occupants in the car can feel the car. Besides it is comfortable to drive in the city as well though quick getaways are not as smooth in the city. But it does become the only diesel engine in the country to comply with Bharat Stage VI norms on Bharat Stage V fuel. This has been achieved with the addition of Ad-blue as well as a particulate filter. The Mercedes engineers say that the Ad-blue comes with its own 25-litre tank and will need to be topped up once annually when the car goes for its annual service.
The other big change is in the steering wheel which is all-new and now with touch button controls that are easier to use and look good. Even with the additional cruise control switches on it,
overall the switchgear and the systems are easier to use than before.
The cabin continues to be class leading with the ottoman seat still one of the main draws as with the touch of a button the front passenger seat can be folded over forward and deploy a foot rest while the rear left seat goes into a comfortable reclining position with a calf rest also coming up to support the legs.
The assistance systems will take some getting used to as the car responds frequently to things that are not even threats on Indian roads. The autonomous driving systems while working well in Europe still need to get up on speed on developing market road scenarios. So while emergency braking can be a nuisance, it can definitely save lives if the car was in a situation where a collision is imminent. Cross traffic alert and pre-safe systems (specially if there is a collision from the rear) are welcome features.
THE ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS WILL TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO
The cabin continues to be mega luxurious. The steering wheel is all-new and now comes with touch button
controls that are easier to use and look good as well
1. The scribble pad is user-friendly. 2. Passengers at the back get their own set of controls for the aircon. 3. The rear arm rest comes with cup holders. 4. The petrol engine offers ample torque at low revs allowing quick getaways
The diesel engine features an inline six configuration. It is also the most powerful diesel engine put into production by the German brand