We were in Zürich for a first drive in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We drove three cars — the S 560 V8 petrol, S 400 d, and the AMG S 63. Here is what the ex­pe­ri­ence was like

Car India - - CONTENTS -

Wher­ever you may be in the world, peo­ple like to talk about cars and when the dis­cus­sion in­volves high-end lux­ury cars — the best au­to­mo­biles in the world — then the dis­cus­sion in­vari­ably veers to­wards the S-Class from Mercedes-Benz. Last month I was in­vited by Mercedes to Zürich for a first drive in the new S-Class. Since this was not a run-of-the-mill first drive and since the car was the S-Class, it was all about lux­ury and all that goes with it, start­ing with the ac­com­mo­da­tion at the Dolder Grand, one of the best golf re­sorts and spas in Zürich. From the de­sign per­spec­tive, the S-Class has not changed much — the finely drawn lines and salient de­tails en­hance the stance of the car. The new ra­di­a­tor grille comes with three double slats and ver­ti­cal rods in high-gloss black. The new LED head­lamps have three dis­tinc­tive torches of DRL (day­time run­ning lights) emit­ting from the multi-beam LED head­lamps that merge with the wide ra­di­a­tor grille, thus giv­ing the S-Class a dis­tinc­tive look from the front. The bumpers with their vo­lu­mi­nous air in­lets add a sporty flair to the car. The side pro­file of the car is equally im­pres­sive with the dome-shaped roof-line that cre­ates a sense of space and su­pe­ri­or­ity. The in­te­grated tail-pipe trims and rear LED tail-lamps make the car look classy from the rear.

The S-Class in­te­rior has al­ways set a bench­mark for lux­ury cars, and now that of the new S has raised the bar even fur­ther. The qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als such as open-pore wood, leather-clad door pan­els and belt lines along with the leather seats is top-class. Mercedes-Benz have pre­sented the new en­er­gis­ing com­fort con­trol as world-first. This con­sists of dif­fer­ent com­fort sys­tems be­ing net­worked in es­pe­cially co-or­di­nated pro­grams to en­hance the well-be­ing of all pas­sen­gers. The sys­tem utilises the cli­mate con­trol sys­tem (in­clud­ing fra­granc­ing), the seats (heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion, and mas­sage), the panel heat­ing, as well as the light and mu­sic set­tings.

The lux­ury is fur­ther en­hanced with 64 colours, 10 colour worlds, and three dif­fer­ent il­lu­mi­na­tion zones. One has to ex­pe­ri­ence the Burmester sur­round sound sys­tem to ap­pre­ci­ate the sound qual­ity. As ex­pected of Mercedes-Benz, they have taken the in­te­rior qual­ity, well-be­ing, and lux­ury in the new SClass to an­other level.

The sus­pen­sion setup both at the front and rear is multi-link with air sus­pen­sion. The Mercedes Magic Body Con­trol com­bines the ac­tive chas­sis sus­pen­sion, con­tin­u­ously ad­justable dampers, and Road Sur­face Scan. With the aid of a stereo video cam­era, the road sur­face ahead is scanned pre­cisely to al­low the damp­ing of each in­di­vid­ual wheel to be op­ti­mally ad­justed in

ad­vance to tackle the im­pend­ing bumps. The new curve in­cli­na­tion func­tion has the ef­fect of caus­ing the body of the ve­hi­cle to lean in­wards by up to 2.65 de­grees on turns. In this way the lat­eral forces ex­pe­ri­enced are sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced, thus no­tice­ably en­hanc­ing both dy­namic han­dling and com­fort.

The big­gest change comes un­der the hood with all-new straight-six petrol and diesel en­gines. It has been quite some time since Mercedes brought out all-new en­gines. With per cylin­der ca­pac­ity of 500 cc now Mercedes make a six-cylin­der 3.0-litre, a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der that is al­ready in In­dia in the EClass; in the fu­ture we may see a 1.5-litre three-cylin­der and a 1.0-litre twin-cylin­der unit to power a plug-in hy­brid. All these en­gines will have com­mon tech­nol­ogy and com­po­nent shar­ing and this will help the com­pany bring down the cost of man­u­fac­tur­ing con­sid­er­ably.

The new six-cylin­der mo­tor is belt-less for the wa­ter pump and the a-c com­pres­sor run on the new 48-volt elec­tric sys­tem. The camshaft drive chain has been moved to the rear of the en­gine to make the mo­tor as com­pact as pos­si­ble. A 48-volt in­te­grated starter gen­er­a­tor (ISG) is fit­ted be­tween the en­gine and the gear­box. An elec­tric turbo helps spool up the tur­bocharger and the ISG works in tandem to pro­pel the car from stand­still, ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing up to 250 Nm of torque. When the main turbo kicks in, the elec­tric turbo cuts off along with the mo­tor. The ISG is also used to charge the 48volt bat­tery. The only rea­son why this car can­not pass it­self off as a hy­brid is be­cause the en­gine does not dis­con­nect from the elec­tric mo­tor. To save fuel, the cylin­ders do not get de-ac­ti­vated, rather the whole en­gine is shut down while coast­ing. The tran­si­tion from power to coast­ing and back to power is ab­so­lutely seam­less.

The car started driv­ing it­self — go­ing round cor­ners and main­tain­ing dis­tance from the car in front even while slow­ing down to 80 km/h when the speed limit came down to that fig­ure

( Right) Greater lux­ury and even greater au­ton­o­mous ca­pa­bil­ity ( Far Right) Mak­ing the move from V6 to mod­u­lar in-lines

( In­te­rior once again sets the bench­mark in com­fort and lux­ury

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