T h e D a D D y O f L u x u r y

The 2016 Mercedes- Benz s400 L shares The at­tributes of a lux­ury liner and Tech- laden su­per mo­bile — and it’s here To make our jour­neys more lav­ish

WKND - - On The Road -

Not all cars are cre­ated equal. And for a hundred years, Mercedes- Benz has been spear­head­ing change even when the world seems to be mov­ing at its fastest. In that man­ner, they have per­suaded states­men, pro- ath­letes and even singer/ gang­ster types into pur­chas­ing their ul­ti­mate brand rep­re­sen­ta­tion — the S- Class. Let’s face it, when you dish out over Dh400,000 of those big bucks, you want style that speaks, tech­nol­ogy that over­whelms and con­ve­niences that sat­isfy. Does the cur­rent SClass mean all that, three years af­ter its launch? The an­swer may be a yes, but we had to put it to the test any­how. Here is how the story went.

DE­SIGN & AES­THET­ICS

It may be a short trip or a busi­ness ap­point­ment, but know­ing that you drive some­thing this good- look­ing means some­thing… no mat­ter how vain it may sound. And the S- Class de­liv­ers!

Since its orig­i­nal launch in 1972, the S- Class has been the most pres­ti­gious chauf­feur- driven ex­ec­u­tive sedan in the world. It has been clas­si­fied as a clas­sic of each era. And even with this W222 model, Mercedes has man­aged to mix old with new, sleek ( with a co­ef­fi­cient of drag at 0.24) with colos­sal.

When it comes to size, they make them big — we are talk­ing over five me­tres in length, 2,130mm wide and 1,494 mm tall. Yes, it’s an im­pos­ing size, but our eyes are so fa­mil­iar to th­ese lines that it doesn’t seem awk­ward — in fact, it be­fits the road­scapes of our city. Stylis­ti­cally, the cur­rent S- Class is just an evo­lu­tion of the

mod­els of yore, equipped with the lat­est in auto-

fash­ion and tech­nol­ogy. Take the il­lu­mi­na­tion, for in­stance — Mercedes has com­pletely aban­doned the use of halo­gen light bulbs and utilised some 500- odd LEDS in­stead; some 56 units go into the head­lamp alone; 35 for tail lights and al­most 300 LEDS for the cabin. There are so many on this car, it could com­pete with the LED stretch on the Burj Khal­ifa. More­over, the in­ten­sity of the brake lights is re­duced at night or while wait­ing at traf­fic lights, and the in­tel­li­gent front lamps ad­just reach and spread, de­pend­ing on the velocity and lo­cale.

Some of you may have no­ticed that the beau­ti­ful con­stel­la­tions set­ting of head­lamps and the red strip in the rear lamps have been en­dowed upon the baby- Merc, the C- Class. Which may take some prized sen­sa­tions away from the SClass. But the re­al­ity is, be­sides il­lu­mi­na­tion, they re­ally are two dif­fer­ent cars.

From the pro­file, you can view the “Drop­ping Line”, front to back, that goes along the belt line as in a Rolls- Royce Phan­tom. Whether this was a stroke of artis­tic ge­nius or just the nat­u­ral stroke of a pen­cil artist, it is not known, but it lends the S- Class a sense of mo­tion even when still.

About wheel de­sign, mus­cu­lar five- spoke de­signs are avail­able, as are multi- spoke tur­bine ones, with di­am­e­ters rang­ing from 17- inch to 19. The larger you choose, the smaller the ugly gap be­tween tyre and wheel arch, mak­ing the over­all de­sign of the car seem con­gru­ous to the eye. At the end of the day, when van­ity makes its big call, the S- Class reigns supreme, sec­ond to only a Rolls- Royce or Bent­ley.

Changes to the exter­ior may have been sub­tle, but the in­te­ri­ors are un­like any­thing you have seen be­fore. By mix­ing clas­sic and futuristic de­sign with acres of wood, al­most- sump­tu­ous leather and large spreads of satin- fin­ish trims, you get the feel­ing of be­ing in­side the cabin of a yacht or plane.

The quilted seats, with a plethora of stitch lines and the soft­est head­rests, make for the best loung­ing chairs. And, of couse, the multi- power ad­justa­bil­ity makes set­tling i n easy. Lav­ish amounts of that per­fo­rated leather can be found on the door pan­els and the dash­board. Now that is some­thing you don’t see in reg­u­lar lux­ury cars.

The tra­di­tional three- spoke steer­ing wheel is now a twospoke va­ri­ety, trimmed with the smoothest wood and leather wrap­pings. Yet, it pro­vides good grip for driv­abil­ity, the only com­plaint be­ing the cruise con­trol stalk be­ing hid­den be­hind the wheel. The two other el­e­ments that ren­der an ex­tra­or­di­nary am­bi­ence are the high- end Burmester speak­ers, fin­ished in per­fo­rated alu­minium, and the streaks of am­bi­ent light­ing that con­nect the var­i­ous ob­jects of the cabin. This could be the best in­te­rior we have seen in a long time.

Keep­ing you in the know of the tech in­dus­try are two 12.3inch high- res­o­lu­tion TFT colour dis­plays in 8: 3 for­mat. They pro­trude like ipads, with il­lu­mi­nated sur­rounds in a soft hue of blue. Even the new 7 Se­ries has one large screen — how­ever, Hefty base price; touch screen not too fancy; no in­ter­ac­tive key­fob

the smaller sec­ondary screen in the Beemer is touch sen­si­tive, giv­ing Beemer cus­tomers ad­van­tage in tac­til­ity.

Some say that the S- Class is more about the limou­sine ex­pe­ri­ence and they are not wrong. There is a choice of five dif­fer­ent rear seat vari­ants, in­clud­ing an ex­ec­u­tive seat with a back­rest an­gle ad­justable by up to 43.5 de­grees — quite un­like any­thing in its seg­ment. The rear out­board seats are proper in­di­vid­ual seats that get cli­mate con­trol and are equipped with the cushi­est de­tach­able pil­lows to rest your weary head. In the end, the fetch­ing qual­ity, ma­te­ri­als and in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture make this amongst the best back seats in the busi­ness.

POW­ER­TRAIN & PER­FOR­MANCE

The world may get the S400 Hy­brid and, sure, this mix of in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines and elec­tric mo­ti­va­tions are all the rage in the West, but the dis­cern­ing Gc­c­cus­tomers get only the reg­u­lar S400; and by that I mean, the re­cently de­vel­oped twin- turbo 3.0- litre V6.

Peak out­put fig­ures aren’t go­ing to rock the auto in­dus­try but what you should know, as a cus­tomer, is that there is po­tency for the gen­eral pur­pose. Rev up the tachome­ter to a 5,500 rpm and you get 328 healthy horses at your ser­vice, sup­ple­mented by 480 Nmof torque ob­tained at a lowly 1,700 rpm.

Three things make the S- Class greater than other cars in the crowd. The first be­ing the steer­ing feel — it is but­tery smooth! Mind you, I’ve not had but­ter this smooth. It’s an easy drive in the city and pro­vides the right heft and feed­back on the high­way. Se­condly, it’s as quiet as a li­brary. Even as you get rolling, the cabin is ut­terly silent, thanks to dou­bleglazed win­dows and some se­ri­ous in­su­la­tion sep­a­rat­ing the en­gine and the ca­sual pub­lic fo­rums. And, in that si­lence, be­sides the slight­est throbs from the en­gine, you can get from a 0 to 100 km/ h in 6.1 sec­onds, which jus­ti­fies its 300plus steed. Also, it’s got a gutsy midrange, help­ing you race along mo­tor­ways with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

Fi­nally… the pièce de ré­sis­tance is the wafta­bil­ity! While peo­ple are jostling away in traf­fic, you are rid­ing the prover­bial magic car­pet. It has a con­tin­u­ously op­er­at­ing Adap­tive Damp­ing Sys­tem PLUS and an en­hanced ver­sion of the AIRMATIC full air sus­pen­sion sys­tem that make it seem like the oc­cu­pant was the fo­cus of build­ing this car. Its ride qual­ity is ex­em­plary — it is softer than soft.

When you turn the heat on, the SClass, even with all its mass and soft sus­pen­sion, keeps up. Sure, body roll is per­ceiv­able around tighter cor­ners at speed, but it still is a fun ride.

FEA­TURES & FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

When you are ex­pected to mort­gage your dwelling for a car of this class, you ex­pect spe­cial treat­ment — a prom­ise of con­ve­niences that you didn’t know ex­isted and tech­nol­ogy that makes you feel dumb — and both may be true with the S400.

The head- up dis­play, although noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar, to­gether with the at­ten­tion alert sys­tem, helps you keep your fo­cus on the road and palms on the steer­ing wheel. When ac­ti­vated, the nicely in­te­grated ther­mal imag­ing tech­nol­ogy, called Night Vi­sion, pushes away the dig­i­tally ren­dered ana­log gauges on the left screen, mak­ing driv­ing in less- lit streets free of dan­ger… for the most part.

There are a few safety fea­tures worth men­tion­ing — like the belt­bag, an in­flat- able seat belt strap that re­duces the risk of in­jury to a rear pas­sen­ger’s ribcage. Fea­tures to as­sist you with your driv­ing du­ties in­clude the blind spot, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol and the 360 de­gree view cam­era.

Open the glove box and you will find an ac­tive per­fum­ing sys­tem as part of the AIR- BAL­ANCE pack­age that neu­tralises odours in the cabin and has a scent that dif­fuses quickly. They have many fra­grances to suit your mood, even a sporty one. Hope it doesn’t reek of sweat!

The THERMOTRONIC au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol keeps the cabin tem­per­a­tures well within the com­fort zone and, for those re­quir­ing warmth, there is the elec­tric heat­ing in the rear arm­rests and steer­ing wheel.

Tak­ing things up a notch is a new Speech Dia­log Sys­tem that al­lows com­plete ad­dresses to be spo­ken at a stretch. But it doesn’t al­ways get it right — Google maps still works best, we say! Ad­di­tion­ally, you can voice con­trol the tele­phone and au­dio sys­tems and have your text mes­sages or emails read out.

Just when we were feel­ing the tini­est bit knack­ered, we found a few but­tons to en­gage the six mas­sage pro­grammes, some of which com­bine seat heat­ing as well as mim­ick­ing some of the hot stone hos­pi­tal­ity you get in the Far East.

Choices of au­dio in­clude the Burmester ® Sur­round Sound and the very high- end 3D Sur­round Sound sys­tem, that has been noted to pro­duce all chan­nels of sound bril­liantly. If you want loud, try 24 spe­cially de­signed speak­ers and 1540 Watts. You also get plenty of USB ports and Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity to hear your new- found mu­si­cal favourites.

Do note that the boot is large, even for a cou­ple of suit­cases, but with the cool box — which fits two or three bot­tles — some space is com­pro­mised.

VER­DICT

The master craft of car- mak­ing has been per­fected with ev­ery gen­er­a­tion of the Mercedes- Benz S- Class. The new gen­er­a­tion 2016 model is a be­fit­ting legacy to their 100- year his­tory, grant­ing style, grace and over­whelm­ing tech­nol­ogy with­out for­sak­ing the ba­sic needs of com­mut­ing i. e com­fort and speed. Here’s to what is pos­si­bly the best car in the world!

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