Prestige (Malaysia) - - Contents -

Why the new S-Class may just be the best car in

the world

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class con­tin­ues to set bench­mark

for lux­ury, writes ru­bin khoo

The per­cep­tion is that the beauty of the S-Class is best ap­pre­ci­ated when one is com­fort­ably seated at the back, chauf­feured from door to door. How­ever, on a re­cent trip to Switzer­land, it was dis­cov­ered that de­spite its lav­ish ex­te­rior, the S-Class is pretty adept around the windy, nar­row lanes that are typ­i­cal of pic­turesque Europe. I came to the re­al­i­sa­tion of this last year when I was given the op­por­tu­nity, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, to be chauf­feured around in the S-Class for a week­end. To be hon­est, that felt a lit­tle bit “over” for some­one like me who is pretty spon­ta­neous over my ac­tiv­i­ties.

I thus de­cided to take the car, sans the driver. That was the first thing that struck me when I got be­hind the wheel. That de­spite the lux­u­ri­ous size of the car, it was sur­pris­ingly easy to han­dle. This was re­in­forced when I got the chance to try the facelifted S-Class.

It is easy to un­der­stand why the S-Class, the flag­ship model of Mercedes-Benz, has the dis­tinc­tion of be­com­ing the world’s fore­most lux­ury saloon, hav­ing sold more than 300,000 units since 2013.

With the lat­est facelifted ver­sion, the S-Class is poised to re­main in pole po­si­tion. Driv­ing in Europe al­ways poses a bit of a con­cern for novice driv­ers who have to nav­i­gate their way through un­known ter­ri­tory while con­stantly hav­ing to re­mem­ber to stay on the right.

But those wor­ries proved to be quite un­founded, par­tic­u­larly since “in­tel­li­gent driv­ing” has been a key fo­cus for MERCEDESBENZ in re­cent years. The lat­est edi­tion of the S-Class features a range of driv­ing as­sis­tance and safety sys­tems that in­clude Ac­tive Brak­ing As­sist, Cross­wind As­sist, At­ten­tion As­sist, Traf­fic Sign As­sist and also t he Oc­cu­pant Pro­tec­tion Sys­tem.

With these ad­di­tional features, it means that one could fo­cus on bask­ing in the lux­ury of the S-Class. The Ac­tive Dis­tance Control Distronic and Ac­tive Steer­ing As­sist en­sure that the driver keeps a safe dis­tance and steer. Speed is also au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justed ahead of bends or junc­tions, com­ple­mented by im­proved Ac­tive Lane Chang­ing As­sist and ad­di­tional func­tions of the Ac­tive Emer­gency Stop As­sist. This proved to be par­tic­u­larly use­ful as there were some mo­ments the car veered into the other lane.

The new S-Class raises Mercedes-Benz In­tel­li­gent Drive to the next level.

We are ap­proach­ing the

goal of au­to­mated driv­ing more pur­pose­fully and faster than many peo­ple sus­pect. From the au­tumn, the new S-Class will be able to sup­port its

driver con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than all sys­tems which

have been avail­able to date

The new S-Class also comes equipped with an en­hanced cam­era and radar that al­lows for a bet­ter view of sur­round­ing traf­fic. It also makes use of map and nav­i­ga­tion data to cal­cu­late driv­ing be­hav­iour. With the Distronic Ac­tive Prox­im­ity As­sist, the driver can ad­just the ve­hi­cle speed eas­ily, re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion, based on the route.

Adding to t he con­ve­nience is the “As­sis­tance Graphics” menu of the in­stru­ment panel that shows the driver at a sin­gle glance, the as­sis­tance func­tions that have been se­lected as well as sit­u­a­tions the sys­tems are re­spond­ing to. The icons are pretty dis­tinc­tive so as to make it clear to the driver.

“The new S-Class raises Mercedes-Benz In­tel­li­gent Drive to the next level,” says Dr Michael Hafner, Head of Au­to­mated Driv­ing and Ac­tive Safety at Mercedes-Benz. “We a re ap­proach­ing the goal of au­to­mated driv­ing more pur­pose­fully and faster than many peo­ple sus­pect. From the au­tumn, the new S-Class will be able to sup­port its driver con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than all sys­tems which have been avail­able to date.”

The S-Class has al­ways been a leader in tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion. It is the first car that is able to de­tect road bumps in ad­vance. The Road Sur­face Scan, us­ing the stereo cam­era, is able to un­du­late while t he Magic Body Control will ad­just the sus­pen­sion in ad­vance to ac­com­mo­date the sit­u­a­tion.

The lat­est model ex­udes lux­ury but com­bines the idea of sta­tus with tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion. A new ra­di­a­tor grille gives t he S-Class a sleeker look but com­bines it with multi­beam LED head­lamps. The S-Class was ac­tu­ally the world’s first series pro­duc­tion car to use only LEDs as light sources. There are over 500 LEDs re­spon­si­ble for cast­ing light on the road, the ve­hi­cle, the in­te­rior and the boot.

Mercedes-Benz of­fers a new op­tional fea­ture that sup­pos­edly helps take com­fort level up by sev­eral notches. Known as the En­er­giz­ing Control, this well­ness func­tion makes use of avail­able sys­tems such as cli­mate control, am­bi­ence light­ing, mas­sage seats and a fragrance dis­penser to cre­ate the right mood.

It’s not just for the driver; the ex­pe­ri­ence – which has six pro­grammes, in­clud­ing Fresh­ness, Joy and Com­fort – can be en­joyed in all seats. So you can get to that ma­jor busi­ness meet­ing feel­ing much more re­vi­talised.

More ev­i­dence of Mercedes-Benz’s at­ten­tion to de­tail can be seen in the new high-res­o­lu­tion dis­plays and touch-sen­si­tive con­trols of the steer­ing wheel. Like pre­vi­ous models, the two 12.3-inch screens blend into a widescreen cock­pit that is in the di­rect field of vi­sion of the driver. But with the makeover, con­trols on the wheel now re­spond to swip­ing mo­tions (like with a smart­phone), so you can eas­ily op­er­ate the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with­out tak­ing your hands off the wheel.

“The de­vel­op­ment of the new S-Class was ex­tremely ex­ten­sive,” Ola Käl­le­nius, who is re­spon­si­ble for group re­search and MERCEDESBENZ car de­vel­op­ment on the board of Daim­ler AG, was quoted as say­ing. Dur­ing its 2013 de­but, the of­fer­ings in­cluded the diesel-pow­ered S 350d, S 400 Hy­brid and a V6-pow­ered S 400. Hav­ing un­der­gone a facelift for 2017, the car now pre­sents six dif­fer­ent body vari­ants — in­clud­ing the en­try-level S 320 L and the more ro­bust S 450 L, which I put to the test.

“With a whole series of new features and func­tions, the S-Class re­mains the tech­no­log­i­cal pi­o­neer,” Käl­le­nius says.

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