FOR something that will impress without shredding your wallet, it’s still hard to beat the sheer presence of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The 7th generation of this dominant German car model continues with the soft lines of its predecessors, but is loaded to more than impress with sharp features galore.
The long wheel base version available here rolls in at close to 5.3 metres, and is longer wider and taller than its predecessor. A 3-litre turbocharged 6-cylinder engine whips out 270kW of power, and with peak torque at 500Nm, it carries the S-Class well for a big fella: the 0-100kmh dash takes just over 5 seconds. And it achieves everything quietly and smoothly; the 9G-TRONIC transmission going through the gears seamlessly.
New Manufacturing Facility
Produced at the future-focused Factory 56, in Sindelfingen, which emphasises maximum flexibility in rolling out various models, the S-Class benefits from state-of-the-art facilities.
The result is a remarkable piece of engineering. Dripping with excesses, many of the stops have been pulled out to ensure the Mercedes-Benz standard bearer still stays top-of-mind when it comes to motoring that is plush and fit for owners who like it in the front and rear seats.
While the exterior is not remarkable in terms of its design, it’s the interior that knocks it out of the park. The quilted seats are welcoming, soft, accommodating and the driver’s seat has 19 motors to ensure you find your ideal sitting position. You may want a set at home if you’re into quilted stitching and soft leather.
The driver’s seat is not created just for comfort, it’s also got safety features worked into the design. Turn on one of the 10 massage functions and the seat kneads the desired spot, and occasionally lifts gently during the ride to work your back and remind you to stay alert.
Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) lends digital intelligence to the cabin. From the comfort of the driver’s seat you have a good view of the displays and dials (you could have up to 5 in the car including those for the backseat passengers).
A massive touchscreen rises from the centre console, ready to be poked and explored. The volume control for the sound system is located nearest the driver, while the drive mode selector is placed near the passenger. Presumably, you’ll opt for Comfort as your driving setting since that seems to be the general intent of the cabin.
The screens can be a bit distracting, and it might be safer to include a head up display so the driver can keep his/her eyes on the road. Hope it’s not missing due to an oversight since almost everything you want is onboard.
The ride in the S-Class is hugely comfortable. The S 450 L 4MATIC tested here does a good job of riding the bumps and floating — in a nice way — along long stretches. For its length, it handles U-turns reasonably well. And you could reduce that by 2m just by adding the optional rear-axle steering with up to 10° steering angle adjustment, for S$6,200.
While comfort may seem paramount, it’s no slouch in the various sport modes. The S-Class S 450 L 4MATIC is responsive for something this large, and with a drag coefficient of 0.22 it is aerodynamic.
It’s proven itself to be quick, but even when pushed hard, the quiet of the cabin and those comfortable seats just make you want to take things easy.
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And creature comforts add to the heightened levers of service on offer. Say “Hey Mercedes” and you can have the system respond to your requests. And it’s a feature that works to commands from the backseat, too.
The mix of wood, leather, metal, ambient lighting and the sheer expanse of space makes for a relaxing experience. One thing that could be improved is the placement of the central air-con vents. Mounted high on the dash, they have metal trims that cause a reflective dazzle on the windscreen, especially in the tropical sun.
The S-Class takes a further step along the road towards autonomous motoring. The range of active safety features and designed to keep occupants safe, but for now, it’s also trying to keep the drive relatively easy and enjoyable.
For a car its length, you now have automatic parking, which, when combined with the 360° camera view, provides a clear picture of obstacles.
As it eats up the road, gently rocking and rolling along, you can enjoy the multitude of features, appreciate the quietness of the cabin as the sound system tries to fill the empty spaces with rich Burmester sound.
There will be other options of the S-Class rolling off the assembly line in Factory 56, including a plug-in hybrid variant with a range of up to 100km.
With its eye on the future, the S-Class, with a sticker price of *$516,888 continues to set the tone for premium comfort motoring. Okay, so it is still a wallet shredder, but you’ll enjoy supreme comfort in exchange.
MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS S 450 L 4MATIC RATING
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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