Getting the VVIP treatment in the plush Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Bucket list: being chauffeur-driven in a Mercedes Benz S-class: Ticked. I recently had the privilege of being driven by a gentleman from the AMG Driving Academy, Muhammad Hoosain. I call it a privilege because this R1.6m S-class, in “entry-level” trim, is the byword of luxury.
As I sat there with my legs comfortably stretched at the back of the car, I imagined myself concluding multibillionrand deals hidden behind blacked-out privacy windows that came with retractable blinds that made it impossible for anyone outside to see me.
The S-class has always been regarded as a jewel in the Mercedes Benz crown and with the S450L the company hasn’t done too badly either.
My late dad used to own a silver 1980s Mercedes Benz 380SE (W126), with beige interiors and a sunroof. He swore by the brand as he saw it as the epitome of luxury and excellence. I wonder what he would say now if he were sitting with me at the back of this “limousine” from Stuttgart?
This car has been a firm favourite of business executives, presidents (elected or despots), VIPs of any sort and more recently oligarchs in most likely bulletproof versions.
The S-class is refined, exudes success and money without being blingy. The profile is that of understated luxury and a highachiever who doesn’t want to shout out loud about his/her achievements.
The model I drove came with a 3.0l V6 twin-turbo charged engine, despite the 450-naming convention, which produces outputs of 286kW at 500Nm. As it covers 0-100km in 5.1 seconds and tops out at a governed 250kms, the 450L is no slouch despite its bulky two tons.
The car is long, measuring 5.2m, which proved to be a bit of a challenge when parked in my standard garage of 6m with little room to manoeuvre around the car.
That length though made it possible for the generous interiors that make it a dream to sit at the back and work another person drives..
The air suspension easily absorbed the bumps on the uneven tarmac while I continued to work uninterrupted.
The almost 2m width also gave enough space to comfortably sit three adults at the back without elbowing each other out of the way.
Electric blinds for total privacy, while a skyroof at the back and vanity mirrors with lights at the back are some of the features that made being a passenger at the back of this car enjoyable.
I enjoy driving cars and I absolutely loved driving the S-class, but for a change it felt great to be driven around in total comfort and relative silence.
One of the things I like that showed attention to detail in this car was the soft fabric inside the door storage space. Few people pay attention to this as most just throw keys and cellphones in there, or even water bottles. But Mercedes decided to put a soft fabric so that if you happen to put your hand in there it doesn’t feel any horrible plastic. Nice touch, Mercedes.
When it was my turn to drive the car, I got a lot of stares, gasps and outright acknowledgement. It felt great and made me wonder what it must be like to own this R1.6m German behemoth.
I got to experience the Glide mode. What basically happens is that the engine and transmission disengage, allowing the car to “glide” silently.
The nine-gear transmission is smooth as would be expected in this class.
I especially love the generous infotainment that has all the electronic gizmos at the touch of the centrally-located rotating knob, touchpad or the small steering located touchpads.
The S-class cockpit felt like I was sitting in the control centre of the Starship Enterprise with giant LED screens and an array of almost overwhelming technology at my disposal.
The screens are crisp and easy to navigate.
ABS, EBD, brake assist, hillstart, traction control, stability control, air suspension, multiple airbags, multifunction steering wheel, digital instrument cluster, fatigue detect, head-up display, cruise control, voice control, massage in front seats, and wireless charging are some of the standard features.
There is aluminium and leather everywhere and the interiors are plush and seats very comfortable.
The competition will continue to nibble at the heels of this venerable car from Stuttgart and I am sure in some cases will be ahead depending on the preference of the owner of the car.
I seriously enjoyed this model of the S-class. This car remains classic and timeless in terms of design and refinement, but is moving with the times as is evident in the gadgetry that is in the car.
My father would have been definitely happy that he had chosen the precursor to the S450L as a mode of transportation when he had to attend what he called “important meetings.” He always said it made him feel like a VVIP.
And yeah, dad, after driving and experiencing the S450L, I share your sentiment.
The Sonderklasse (German for special class) really is a special car.
THE S-CLASS COCKPIT FELT LIKE I WAS SITTING IN THE
The Mercedes S-class has been a firm favourite of business executives, presidents and VIPs. Below: Massaging front seats and wireless charging are standard features.