START­ING ON A HIGH NOTE

MERCEDES-BENZ S450L AMG-LINE

Driven - - Driven - Re­port by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Im­ages © MERCEDES-BENZ SOUTH AFRICA

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.

LAST WORD

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.

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