Mercedes-Benz S450L

Mercedes-Benz S450L RM699,888 (with­out SST)

Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents -

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

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