S is for special features – and Mercedes class
Mercedes has used its know-how to create an S-Class with a range of amazing extras
Date Reviewed: July 1, 2013
A long, black Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been favoured by dictators – Robert Mugabe’s is reportedly so heavily armoured that it requires its own fuel truck to follow it on longer trips – and by bankers who want to slip quietly from airport to skyscraper to mansion. So, in tough times, should the rest of us care that an all-new S-Class has arrived?
Yes we should. As the pinnacle of the Mercedes-Benz range, the S-Class gets everything this storied carmaker knows about carmaking. Previous generations of S-Class have helped pioneer safety systems we now take for granted on humbler cars, such as anti-lock brakes and stability control.
When you read about the extraordinary safety features on this new S-Class, you might wonder why Mercedes is going to so much trouble to save the lives of rich folk. But keep in mind that many of these features are so expensive that they have to be cost options even on the pricey flagship model. Putting them into production here starts the process of getting that price down, and getting them into more cars.
But the S-Class is a luxury car first, so let’s see how Mercedes has done in that regard. Externally, the new car is handsome, well-resolved but subtle. Inside, the new S is simply beautiful, its cabin executed with a verve and wit that reflects the fact that China is now the biggest market for this car, and that the average age of its customers there is just 35. Highlights include the intricate filigree finish of the aluminium covers of the optional Burmester audio system, and the LED cabin lighting which seems to pour from every crevice in your choice of acid-trip purples and reds, or cooler tones if you prefer. In fact, the S-Class is the first car to switch wholly to LEDs for its lighting, inside and out: there isn’t a light-bulb to be found in it.
But the back seats are arguably the most important in an S-Class. Here, the accommodation has gone fully first-class, with the option of two individual rear chairs, the one behind the passenger seat stretching out airline-style with a calf-rest, the seat in front motoring out of your way. Optional screens can play movies, but also display the same kind of “in-flight” information about your journey as you find on a plane. Stretch out back here and you keep expecting a stewardess to appear at your shoulder with champagne and mini-pretzels.