Mercedes-Benz South Africa President & CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann, pulled no punches in this regard:
“Rather than being about safety or aesthetics, power or efficiency, comfort or dynamism, our goal was ‘the best or nothing’ in every respect. No other car stands for the Mercedes-Benz brand promise more than the S-Class.”
Indeed the S-Class is one very special vehicle, one would expect that in a range whose prices start well north of a R1-million. You have to pack a lot into a car to justify price tags like that and the S-Class is packed with technology aimed at keeping occupants comfortable and safe. For example we were told there are over 100 tiny electric motors in the S-class to adjust almost anything that can be moved to make your life more comfortable. But the S-class is much more than about mere technology which is in any event becoming more commonplace in all cars daily. It is about building a car from the ground up that encapsulates the best that is available. So, for example, the new S-Class is the first vehicle in the world whose interior and exterior do without a single conventional light bulb and bnenefits instead from approximately 500 LEDs which illuminate the road, the vehicle, the interior and the boot.
For the first time in the history of the S-Class, the development focus was on the long-wheelbase sedan. Unlike before, the short-wheelbase version was derived from this. This is because the S-Class is firmly positioned as a prestige sedan not only in the large overseas markets such as the USA, China or Japan. Whereas in Europe and North America the owner of an S-Class is frequently behind the wheel themself, the flagship model in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car portfolio is very definitely a chauffeur-driven vehicle in Asia. The logical consequence is the number of new features specifically related to comfort and safety in the rear – in the S-Class, there is no doubt that passengers in the rear are also seated in first class. Mercedes subjected us to a chauffer drive just to make sure we got the point. The rear is more spacious than before and the seats can individually be reclined to nearly 45 degrees.
Two high-resolution TFT colour displays in 8:3 format with a screen diagonal of 30.7 cm form the new information centre in the S-Class. They are truly enormous and offer exceptional clarity. The right-hand display performs the functions of the previous instrument cluster, providing the driver with all relevant information. The left-hand display allows the convenient control of infotainment and comfort functions. The telephone and audio systems can also be voice-controlled. The option of having text messages (SMS) read out is a new feature.
In its first year the new S-Class line-up features one hybrid versions, one petrol model and a diesel variant: S 400 HYBRID, S 500 and S 350 BlueTEC. All models boast class-leading efficiency and up to 20 percent lower fuel consumption than the outgoing model series. All the engines already meet the requirements of the Euro 6 emissions standard.
In addition to this, we also have the S 400 HYBRID and S 500 long-wheel-base variant. There is also an S63 AMG, and while I am a great fan of AMGs generally, it is a bit hard to see the point at this level of luxury. In fact I saw little point in having anything much more than a full spec S350 which offered ride comfort that was truly exceptional.
The AMG and the S 500 can be fitted with what is said to be the S-class’s ultimate party trick Magic Body Control. This is said to allow the new car to be able to detect bumps on the road ahead by means of Road Surface Scan, using a stereo camera. Magic Body Control instantaneously sets up the suspension to deal with the new situation. Unfortunately the cars on the launch were not fitted with the option so I have no idea of the extent to which it helps.
Mercerdes are determined to make your drive in the new S-class a sensory feast and as a new feature, the Air-Balance package comprises perfuming, ionisation and even more efficient filtration compared with the standard model. Thermotronic automatic climate control in the rear has two additional zones to improve comfort. Electric heating of the armrests is a completely new feature.
The “perfuming system” is switched on and off manually, with manual adjustment of the intensity. The perfume atomisation system individualises the smell of the vehicle interior. It neither changes the interior smell permanently, nor are perfume molecules deposited on fabric surfaces or clothing. The fragrance is discreet and mild, and dissipates rapidly. New leather has always smelt pretty cool to me anyway, but each to his own. Perhaps those who need to replace the smell of young secretary with that of lots of money, before taking the wife out to dinner will appreciate it.
A massage function for the seats is not in itself new, but on the hot-stone principle it is a first. The seat specialists at Mercedes-Benz have developed a unique massage function with 14 separately actuated air cushions in the backrest, as well as an integrated warming function. There is a choice of six massage programmes, two of them using the warming function. The function is also available for the rear seats.
If the “First-Class rear suite” is specified (with rear centre console), the front console on the transmission tunnel is visually continued to the rear. It is equipped with innovative thermo-cupholders which use Peltier technology to cool or warm drinks over a longer period of time.
The new Pre-Safe functions can help to prevent collisions with pedestrians and vehicles in front in city traffic, defuse dangerous situations caused by traffic behind and enhance the protection offered by the seat belts. Pre-Safe Brake can also detect pedestrians and initiate autonomous braking to avoid a collision at speeds up to 50 km/h.
Pre-Safe Plus can recognise an imminent rear-end collision and warn the following traffic by activating the rear hazard warning lights at a high frequency. If the danger of a collision persists, the system can also firmly apply the stationary vehicle’s brakes and thus minimise the risk of whiplash injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by the impact. This can additionally reduce the risk of secondary accidents.
Mercedes-Benz has extended the safety system for rear seat passengers further with the seat belt buckle extender, the beltbag and the cushionbag. With the illuminated seat belt buckle extender, an electric motor extends and retracts the belt buckle automatically. In this way, any belt slack in the area of the pelvis and thorax can be reduced so that passengers are secured more firmly in both the sideways and the lengthways direction.
The beltbag is an inflatable seat-belt strap that is able to reduce the risk of injury to passengers in the rear in a head-on collision by lessening the strain placed on the ribcage. The optional Executive seat is equipped with a cushionbag under the seat cushion upholstery as standard. When the seat is reclined, it prevents the occupant from sliding beneath the seat belt (so-called submarining) in an accident. This has enabled Mercedes-Benz to design a comfortable reclining seat which provides a higher level of accident safety than a seat with a trailing backrest.
The new S-Class comes standard with the PremiumDive 6-years/100 000 km maintenance plan with no customer contribution.
S 350 BlueTECR1 214 000
S 400 HYBRIDR1 227 100
S 400 HYBRID LongR1 248 200
S 500 BlueEFFICIENCYR1 564 100
S 500 BlueEFFICIENCY LongR1 766 100
S 63 AMG R2 174 000