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
It’s easy to forget that under all the gadgetry and luxury, there’s still a car down there. The oily bits are as impressive as ever; we tried the 455bhp, 4663cc V8-powered S500, which displayed the seamless, surging acceleration needed to outrun those pesky rebels, but with a refinement that ensures your phone call to the Swiss banker who’s hiding your funds isn’t interrupted. There will also be a 258bhp diesel from launch, and a 333bhp 3498cc petrol-electric hybrid that emits just 148g/km, on a par with cars two classes below. Higher-powered V12 and AMG-tuned versions will follow.
The ride is even more impressive: cloud-like air springs are standard, but the optional Magic Body Control system is new and frankly weird. It uses two “stereo” cameras to read the road ahead, spot obstacles such as speed bumps, and control the suspension to allow the S to glide over them as if they weren’t there. Rolls-Royces ride very well, but an S-class equipped with this system is just in a different league.
Airbags in seatbelts
And what of those safety systems? This car is so safe it now has airbags in the seatbelts. It can detect a car approaching too fast from behind, and prepare itself and you for a rear-end collision. It can see a child in the road ahead and stop itself. It can even spot, in the dark, a human or animal that seems to be moving across your path, and tell the difference between the two, flashing its headlights at the human, but not the animal, which might be startled and freeze. There are far too many other safety features to list here – you’d have to be remarkably foolhardy to have an accident in this car.
Apologies if this sounds a bit breathless and gushing. The majority of S-Classes will be finished in a sober black inside and out and won’t get more than a couple of these options. But it’s hard not to be impressed by a carmaker at the peak of its game making the very best car it can, and hard not to be excited by the preview it offers of features we’ll all soon enjoy.
OUR VERDICT It’s hard not to be impressed by a carmaker at the peak of its game making the very best car it can
The lowdown: Mercedes-Benz S500L
4663cc V8 putting out 455bhp at 5250rpm and 700Nm of torque at 1800-3500rpm