Mercedes-Benz S450L RM699,888 (without SST)
WE SAY: HYBRID POWERTRAIN MAKES WAY FOR SMALLER, AMG-APPROVED ENGINE. THERE’S A PRICE HIKE TOO…
The argument of the month is about the Sales & Services Tax (SST), and whether those who purchased a car before it was reintroduced recently truly came out as winners. You’d imagine the wealthy need not burden themselves with such menial mathematics. But in truth, business moguls who can afford to splash RM600k on a limousine have bigger numbers to crunch. Especially when what they thought they could purchase for RM600k is now a full RM100k pricier.
We’re talking about the recently updated W222 (V222 for long-wheelbase models) S-Class, and how the line-up has changed now that the hot selling S400h is out of the picture. In its place as the breadwinner of the S-Class range is the S450L, which reverts to a completely petrol dependent powertrain, a smaller one at that, costing RM699,888 before SST. But downsizing to something AMG approves of doesn’t necessarily constitute a downgrade.
Replacing the S400h’s 3.5-litre engine is the three-litre bi-turbo V6 we’ve come to love in AMG’s 43-series models. A growly little thing with the bite to match in the likes of the locally assembled C43 and GLC43, the 367bhp mill imbues a sense of lightness in the two-tonne saloon’s step, with 0-100kph rated at an impressive 5.4 seconds. That’s hot hatch agility to go with the refinement in its mobility, which is far more important trait than outright performance in a car like this.
It may have taken awhile, but the
S-Class has finally followed in the footsteps of its more affordable siblings by having its gear count bumped up from seven to nine. The 9G-Tronic transmission curbs the AMG-spec engine’s enthusiasm pretty well when needed, and allows a 115kph cruise at 1,500rpm in near silence for when the VIP seated at the back isn’t in a hurry.
Speaking of which, the rear quarters remain the place to be in the S-Class. Plush and spacious as ever, the seats now have a wireless charger wedged between them. And while the S450L is equipped with a Burmester surround sound system as standard, occupants can choose to indulge in their media of choice using one of two wireless headsets for extra privacy. The tech up front has been upgraded too, with the two-screen infotainment updated to mimic the fancier layout that debuted in the W213 E-Class, meaning it’s now compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Comfort-wise, the S-Class’s Airmatic suspension is hard to fault. But dive into potholes too fast and the 20-inch alloys will send some reverberations up the base of your seat. Part of an AMG Line exterior package that’s also standard, the wheels complement the new Multibeam LED headlights in giving the facelifted exterior a bit more distinction from the outgoing car, visually at least. They still don’t tell the full story of how 6,500 components have been replaced in the process.
As a passenger, it’s almost impossible to ascertain the magnitude of these changes simply because the S-Class has always been incredibly adept at lavishing its occupants with oodles of luxury and comfort on the move. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and the change in powertrain is a positive one for owners who fancy driving their limo occasionally. The smaller engine means you’ll save a bit on road tax costs too. It will take ages for these savings to negate the S450L’s premium, but your conscience can be eased by the simple fact that the V222’s latest base model is a better all-rounder than its predecessor. DARYL LOY