Launched: Mercedes-Benz S-Class [2013]

The phenomenal change

The best car in the world. Although Mercedes-Benz South Africa preferred to use the phrase “This changes everything” for their flagship model, the S-Class has long been the leader for pioneering technology. Most of what you discover here will trickle down to other cars in a few years.

This range is so successful that the outgoing model maintained its market leader position in 2012 and 2013, racking up an impressive 500,000 sales worldwide. Even more unbelievable is the fact that Mercedes-Benz has already taken 30,000 orders of the new S-Class, most without the customer even seeing the car.

While some may dismiss that as madness, S-Class customers know exactly what to expect – the best levels of comfort, convenience, luxury, technology, design and efficiency.  On paper, Mercedes-Benz has built exactly that into their new sedan and the only questionable aspect is the new car’s appearance.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse, (W 222), 2012

The internally-known W222 range isn’t quite as striking as its newest siblings; the daring trend started by A-Class has gracefully passed by the S-Class and left it looking conservative and elegant. My personal opinion is that this gamble will definitely pay off – the huge Merc looks stately and proper in the flesh; like an S-Class should.

Its interior is also a completely new design but was infused with excellent ergonomics and intuitive details. Over 100 electric motors assist in running the cabin, you may choose from multiple massages (including hot stone) or air fragrances which were specially designed for this car.

Optional executive (split) rear seats can recline up to 44 degrees and obviously there’s the option of controlling all media settings from each chair. Sound comes courtesy of a Burmeister concert hall-grade system with front bass, which uses parts of the car’s frame for low frequency reflex.

Surround and 3D functions are optional upgrades on lesser models but all W222’s get to brag with maximum screen size. There are two (yes, 2) 30.7cm TFT monitors in the newcomer’s dashboard; one for instrumentation and trip info, the other for all multimedia and infotainment systems.

Further options include text message read-outs and wireless internet via Bluetooth cellular connectivity. NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) advances pair up with weight savings of up to 100kg, 50% more torsional rigidity and class-leading 0.24cd aerodynamics for even more driving comfort.

There’s not a single filament (old-fashioned) light bulb in this car, even the adaptive headlights are LED and thus save up to 75% on energy consumption. The high-beam assistant will even carve a path in its rays for oncoming traffic, leaving the high beams on elsewhere for you to see well.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse, (W 222), 2012

360-degree stereoscopic cameras monitor everything around the S-Class and can better detect pedestrians and animals, also in the dark, even taking evasive action. Coupled to the latest Distronic autonomous cruise control, stop & go pilot and steering assistance, this Mercedes is almost capable of driving itself.

Engineers in Germany fiddled with a few systems and managed just that – an S-Class drove itself from Mannheim to Pforzheim along the route Bertha Benz took over a century ago. Over 20 driver assistance systems now make up Intelligent Drive, and thus make a further step towards accident-free driving.

Another big innovation is Magic Body Control, a system which uses the cameras to scan the road surface ahead and adjust the suspension accordingly. You read that correctly. The S-Class can detect potholes, bumps and other nasties up ahead and will make sure that they don’t bother you too much.

Currently there are four engines available, the S350 BlueTEC turbo-Diesel V6 (N$1,214,000), S400 petrol V6 Hybrid (N$1,227,100), S500 Bi-Turbo petrol V8 (N$1,564,100) and its naughty S63 AMG cousin (N$2,174,000). Most are also available as long wheelbase models while the V12’s are expected next year.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse, (W 222), 2012

It goes without saying that every model shows improved efficiency and performance while complying with Euro 6 emissions standards. The list of standard and optional features is just as impressive as the colour and trim combinations, plus each car is sold with Mercedes-Benz’ full six-year/100,000km maintenance plan.

I could tell you all sorts of details about our chauffeur and self-drives at the car’s launch but it would only boil down to one thing: it’s phenomenal and it does change everything. The new Range Rover comes close but that’s an SUV so what you’re looking at now is the best car in the world.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse, (W 222), 2012

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