Merc S Class a dig­i­tal de­light

Stately, ooz­ing with fi­nesse and gad­gets, this is the car of the rich and fa­mous, kit­ted with best in tech­nol­ogy

The New Age (Free State) - - BUSINESS - ED­WIN NAIDU

It was called the Pon­ton, a bulky mover, like in the gang­ster movies fea­tur­ing the no­to­ri­ous big mob­ster Al Capone, who did time in the in­fa­mous Al­ca­traz in San Fran­cisco, from which one has a prison view from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

That was in 1954. Two years be­fore the new model, Buddy Holly rocked the charts with the That’ll Be The Day (That I Die). He per­ished in a plane crash on Fe­bru­ary 3, 1959 – 59 years ago.

Alive, the world cried about the re­place­ment of the Pon­ton. It was ugly and chris­tened the Fin­tail. Al Capone would not have been caught in this ugly duck­ling.

I won­der what he was driv­ing when he went out in a blaze of gory dur­ing a killing spree in the US, the St Valen­tine’s Day Mas­sacre.

In the mod­ern era, it took the blade run­ner Os­car Pis­to­rius to re­mind us that there is no love lost on Valen­tine’s Day. May Reeva Steenkamp rest in peace while Pis­to­rius con­tin­ues fight­ing be­hind bars. The flacid Fin­tail gave way in 1965 to the S badge.

Sim­ply dead! It was meant to tell the world that it was a high-per­for­mance sedan. San­ity pre­vailed in 1972 when the Mercedes Benz S-Class chose re­birth in the era of Elvis Pres­ley’s de­cline and the rise of David Bowie. My late par­ent’s old poster books fea­tured the likes of Holly and Pres­ley.

They never liked Bowie. The Mercedes Benz S-Class is a youth­ful 46.

But its hum­ble be­gin­nings served to whet the global ap­petite for a badge that has evolved into a gem. Since its in­glo­ri­ous das­tardly cre­ations of the ’50s and ’60s, the Mercedes Benz S-Class has botoxed into a stun­ner.

Then too it had the best tech­nol­ogy avail­able. You won­der what the fuss was about. Now, you only marvel in awe.

The car was for­merly known as the Son­derk­lasse which trans­lates into “spe­cial class” in Ger­man. De­spite vis­it­ing Mu­nich, Frankfurt and Leipzig once when BMW en­ter­tained al­ter­na­tive voices at its South African cor­po­rate garage in Midrand, I never learnt the lan­guage.

Blame it on the beer at the Mu­nich Fes­ti­val and their fab­u­lous for­mer ra­dioman and jour­nal­ist, the savvy Bene­dict Maaga, who was a de­light­ful host.

That’s when BMW com­mu­ni­ca­tors did their job. In the spirit of Valen­tine’s, let sleep­ing Beemers re­main in their voice­less pit.

This is about class, the stun­ning Mercedes Benz S-Class, some­thing the Beemer would never match.

Stately, ooz­ing with fi­nesse, and gad­gets, this is the car of the rich and fa­mous. Bol­ly­wood stars, heads of states, busi­ness fig­ures, they clamour to be first in the lat­est model.

This in­cludes ac­tor Hrithik Roshan, flam­boy­ant Force In­dia For­mula One team boss Vi­jay Mallya, now in a spot of bother with the law over fi­nan­cial crimes, and the for­mer pres­i­dent of In­dia Pranab Mukher­jee ap­par­ently drove in a Mercedes Benz S600.

Un­like our beau­ti­ful land where we vow to pick up the econ­omy, this politi­cian merely picked up the same wheels of his pre­de­ces­sor. Alas, no­bil­ity is not en­demic to the world.

Since 1972, the Mercedes Benz S-Class has evolved into the world’s top sell­ing sedan. Six models have come in the past 46 years – if you count the three be­fore they hit gold with the name.

Does the Mercedes Benz S-Class have nine lives? The lat­est ver­sion is a dig­i­tal de­light kit­ted with the best in tech­nol­ogy avail­able.

More pow­er­ful and gor­geous than in its his­tory. But it is only for those with deep pock­ets.

The S 350d L starts at R1.6m, the S 400 d L is close to R1,7m , the S 450 L and S 560 L both for a few rand over R2m and the S 600 L, is a cool R2.6m.

From an ugly duck­ling into a swan princess, this Mercedes Benz S-Class is a Valen­tine to drool over. No PR re­quired but at least Mercedes’s ex­tremely help­ful and im­pres­sively proac­tive new broom Ni­co­lette For­tuin does not drive jour­nal­ists around the Benz. She cour­te­ously lets the fab­u­lous Mercedes Benz S-Class do her bid­ding.

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