STARTING ON A HIGH NOTE
MERCEDES-BENZ S450L AMG-LINE
WE ALL CRAVE OUR CREATURE COMFORTS; THE LUXURY OF EGYPTIAN COTTON LINEN, THE FIT OF A TAILORED SUIT, THE FEEL OF A LEATHERWRAPPED STEERING WHEEL. AND AT THE TOP END OF THE MOTORING MARKET, WE EXPECT ONLY THE BEST FROM ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST PROLIFIC PRODUCER OF HIGH-END LUXURY CARS. BERNIE HELLBERG JR SPENT SOME TIME IN THE MERCEDES-BENZ S450L AMG-LINE.
Whether you’re at the Saville Row end of the car buying market, or prefer to dwell down Country Road instead, you probably appreciate the finest things that your money can buy. The point being, that you’ve worked hard for your money, and when you choose to spend it on luxury wheels, you want to get as much grand for your Rand as possible.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is, as far as we’re concerned, the torchbearer in the luxury limousine class. Having been around for over six decades, the S-Class has been tuned and fettled, shaped and refined to suit every need of every potential luxe super sedan buyer out there.
Limited only by budget, there is an S-Class to suit every desire, from our recently-tested S450L, to the mighty, and meaty, MercedesAMG S65.
WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
If Mercedes-Benz has learned one thing from the South African market, it is that buyers in the upper echelons demand the highest levels of comfort and technology, even from cars considered to be at the entry point of a range. Thus, the S450L, albeit the S-Class ‘base’ model, enters the fray with some serious tech, and several standard luxury items baked in.
And being an S-Class, the overwhelming impression is one of comfort and luxury, especially at the back.
The rear seats can be electronically reclined, and both rear passengers can control the rear windows and privacy blinds on both sides of the car. Rear passengers also get their own vanity mirrors, and legroom, oh the legroom, is absolutely stratospheric, given that all new S-Class models for the South African market are now long-wheelbase versions.
Overall, the S-Class’ updated interior is delightful. Yes, it’s all very sleek and modern
“PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN AND THE TORQUE MAKES ITSELF FELT, WITH THE CAR ACCELERATING IN AN EFFORTLESS YET URGENT FASHION.”
and stylish, but at the same time, there is a playfulness and cheeriness about it. Take the ambient lighting system for example – you now have a choice of multi-colour animation, where the lights gradually morph through a spectrum of up to 64 available colours. It’s an entirely functionless feature, but it does inject more character and personality into the cabin.
Compared to pricier variants in the S-Class line-up, the S450L is still relatively well equipped with the aforementioned 64-colour ambient lighting system, heated seats at the front, and a top-end infotainment system operated using the Mercedes-Benz COMAND system.
There is also cruise control as standard, although active cruise control is available as an option if you add Distronic Plus to the mix. Everything else is available as a cost option, although our test car was fitted with the AMG-Line package with the fancier looking five-spoke rims and AMG-badged highlights around the cabin and the exterior.
POWER & DELIGHT
So, if even the entry-level S-Class comes with a reasonably high level of standard spec, what is the key differentiator between S-Class models? According to Mercedes, S-Class customers don’t want to be let down by levels of comfort in their cars, and will buy up, or down, by engine capacity, if money is indeed an issue. Which it likely is not.
The entry S, then, packs a 3.0-litre biturbo V6 engine producing 270 kW and 520 Nm of torque. That may sound a little on the insufficient side, but considering the car’s weight, it is enough power to send the 2,700 kg behemoth to 100 km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds.
The buttery smooth engine in this S450L emits a bare whisper when driven conservatively. Put your foot down and the torque makes itself felt, with the car accelerating in an effortless yet urgent fashion. It’s powerful, but in an entirely unintrusive and intensely civilised manner.
Speaking of civilised, the noise insulation in the cabin is remarkable. Even at highway speeds with the infotainment completely muted, we could barely detect any noise beyond some faint background tyre noise.
There are three driving modes available on the S450L, but just one that you need to know and care about – Comfort. In our opinion, if you have to consider putting the car into Sport mode – although it is entirely capable of being brisk – then you’ve bought the wrong car.
Trying to fault the Mercedes-Benz S-Class range is increasingly challenging to do, the car is just that good. And truth be told, buyers at this end of the market will likely not care about minor inconveniences such as paying a hundred thousand or two more for the options they want, even if the base price is in the region of R1.7 million. For that amount of cash the S450L is one of the most comfortable cars around, with a sumptuous interior and brilliant safety and driveability credentials. There will always be those who are willing to pay a little extra, those discerning individuals who can dream a little bigger and live a little better, and when the time is right, may even want to jump into the rear seats, kick back and just relax.