The moment has arrived for Mercedes Benz to reveal what is basically the fascia of future models in the company which prompts how technologically advanced the upcoming cars will be. The S-Class is the flagship model, so it debuts most of the new innovative technologies which are improvements done on safety features, interior equipment and drivetrain. It is known as a competitor of the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 but the way it is set up and what it represents, to me it sits on a thin line between the German three-way battle and the niche category of the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. That is why most delegates appreciate it so much and why it is the best-selling luxury sedan in the world.
The W223 plaque has a lot to live up to in order to have the perfect fusion of luxury and tech fest. As a car of “many firsts”, we can date back to the 1970s when the alpha W116 S-Class was the first production car to have ABS and a turbodiesel engine and the W220 introduced the Airmatic air suspension, active ventilated seats and Pre-Safe tech which is now more advanced than ever. The Infrared Night View Assist, in simple terms night vision, was something people never thought was needed in a car but it featured on the W221 S-Class. The W222 S-Class was released in 2014 and it was a standpoint for other car manufacturers to see how a luxury car is refined. The new one should do the same thing because the specifications and new features are out of this world.
The body seems to be much lower and sleeker than the predecessor but according to the dimensions it is taller, longer and wider which means that the inside space has improved. It is even lighter, shedding 60 kilograms off its weight by the use of material that is a combination of steel and aluminium. The body structure comes off lightweight and rigid plus the reconstruction of the joints and body panels means improved safety for the passengers. Then the engineers handed the job to the styling department to make this look lavish.
The bonnet has been stretched out and the front has a big galloping radiator grille, not as protruding as you know who, just sized well to fit the look. The side profile is smooth with flush automatically retractable door handles, the wheels range from 18 to 21 inches in size and rear end has a chrome bar on the boot with chrome twin-exhaust pipes. The drag coefficient is 0.22 which makes it as aerodynamic as the A-Class. I haven’t talked about the light design because it is one of the most outlandish facets about this car.
The front and rear light design is much slimmer but that is to be expected as it is the trend on most cars today but what’s not common is the light technology this car features. It is called Digital Lights and it is a first of its kind. The light component is refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors which results in a resolution of 2.6 million pixels per vehicle. That can only mean that it is brighter but what is fascinating is that it can project images onto the road surface, kind of like a projector. It can project an excavator symbol when it recognizes road work ahead, it also projects spotlights leading to a pedestrian on the roadside to warn the driver, it projects guidelines on the road surface and points out road signs ahead. It is a truly amazing feature and it should be useful to the driver, it’s definitely not a gimmick.
There is one petrol engine and one diesel engine that vary on 4 different model variants. All of these models come with a 9-Speed 9G Tronic automatic transmission. The S350d comes with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive whilst the rest of the models come with all-wheel drive only, and all have a limited top speed of 250 km/h. The 48-volt onboard electrical system has been integrated to help with power boost of 22 hp (16 kW) & 250 Nm of torque for a short period only on the petrol engines. The other advantage of this system is that it acts as an energy recovery system and it provides a smooth transition of the start/stop function which will hardly be noticed by the driver.
The engine displacement is a 3.0-litre turbocharged 6-cylinder for both petrol and diesel. In the petrol S450 4Matic it produces 367 hp (270 kW) and 500 Nm, sprints from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. The petrol S500 4Matic which is the most powerful of the bunch produces 435 hp (320 kW) and 520 Nm, sprints from 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds.
The S350d and S400d are the diesel variants. The S350d produces 286 hp (210 kW) and 600 Nm whilst the S400d makes do with 330 hp (243 kW) and 700 Nm, sprint times are achieved at 6.4 seconds (rear-wheel drive S350d), 6.2 seconds (4Matic S350d) and 5.4 seconds (4Matic S400d) respectively.
The V8 engine has been announced that it will come later on to join the pack and it will be placed in the S560 but there isn’t any word on the S650 V12 engine on the horizon. However, an AMG S63 will follow after, presumably mid-2021.
The other aspect where the S-Class excelled is the suspension and it has always been superior over the competition. We had to applaud the Airmatic suspension for providing the plush ride but now you can option it with the E-Active Body Control which is the works of witchcraft. In correlation with the air suspension and Road Surface Scan, which has 20 sensors and a stereo camera, it reads the road ahead and adjusts the suspension accordingly to iron out the bumps and provide a comfortable ride.
The standard suspension still works wonders as well because it lowers itself by 10 mm when speeds of 120 km/h are reached and lowers further by another 10 mm at 160 km/h and that helps the car to cut through air and make it more aerodynamic and relaxing. To deal with the headache of manoeuvring such a big vehicle, Mercedes Benz has incorporated rear-axle steering which allows a steering angle of up to 10-degrees on the rear wheels bringing the turning circle to just 11 metres which is almost the same as a Volkswagen Polo hatchback and that is a small car. Parking should be easy as it works along with the Steering Assist system.
Now we step into the most prominent part about the S-Class which is the interior and they have absolutely nailed it. Well, that’s according to me because some people are not happy with the portrait-style infotainment screen, saying it’s a copy of a Tesla screen but it is that way for good measure. The 11.9-inch touchscreen enables for more content and functions to be displayed on the screen and when you option a larger 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen, it becomes a swell user experience as the screen has a better black level, higher contrast level and has a lower energy consumption.
It features the latest MBUX 2 infotainment system that is said to be 50% more responsive and the voice assistant now recognizes 27 different languages. It has been improved to communicate better in a natural way and can respond to common commands like if you say, “I’m feeling a bit tense” and it will turn on the massaging function. The driver display is 12.3-inches featuring a 3D mode which uses eye-tracking technology to create the illusion that the contents on the screen seem three-dimensional. That doesn’t end there because the head-up display also features a 3D effect called Augmented reality and that projects 3D navigations arrows to better guide the driver on the route.
The upper part of the screen sights four rectangular air vents with horizontal nacelles and the dash attracts open-pored wood venner, metal weave and brushed aluminium, depends on the trim you go for but be sure to expect the cabin covered in leather on most parts. The choice of leather varies with options such as Nappa and Lugano for the seats as well. The centre console is covered in Piano black and there is no site of any control buttons or touchpad. The three-spoke steering wheel debuted on the E-Class and now it’s in this interior and it matches the theme perfectly.
As standard, it has 9 speakers but can be optioned for the 3D Burmester system with 13 speakers or step it up much further with 4D Burmester surround sound system which has a total of 31 speakers with 1750 watts. The immersive sound experience tricks the driver to thinking that the sound is too powerful but it sends a vibration through the seats. Then there is the MBUX Interior Assist which absolutely works wonders and I mean impressive things. What happens is that the system detects body movements such as hand gestures, head movement and body language to operate various functions in the cabin. The wizardry starts if the driver looks over his shoulder to look out the rear passenger window and it will detect that movement and open the sun blind. The same goes with the sunroof if you wave your hand backwards to open it. The system can be personalized with special gestures for different functions in the interior.
The rear passengers are now safer than ever because there are dedicated rear airbags which is a first on any production car. The comfort of safety is instilled with the luxurious atmosphere when the Rear Seat Comfort Package is optioned and that comes with massaging function, two 11.6-inch screens or two 7.0-inch MBUX tablets, foldable trays, 4 USB-2 connection and wireless charging.
There is a feature called Energizing comfort with 6 different programmes for different moods and that adjusts the seat, sound, active ambient lighting with 250 integrated LEDs and the aircon to match the selected mood. The Air-Balance package has two air fragrances which are a Bamboo mood and Cotton mood and in addition there is an ioniser to ionise the air in the duct that will enter the interior making it clean and refreshing for the occupants.
The priority for every car manufacturer is to make their cars as safe as possible and with the Mercedes Benz S-Class, there is no exception in that and every precaution has been taken to make it as shielded as possible. The system Pre-Safe which existed before has been redeveloped to include an impulse side function that uses E-Active Body Control to raise the body of the car by 8 cm at the moment of a side impact and all of this happens in a few tenths of seconds. That enables the lower and stronger part of the body to absorb the impact and prevent any occupant injuries.
The Drive Pilot feature is an autonomous system that accelerates, steers and brake without the driver input at speeds of up to 60 km/h and it is usually enabled in traffic. There is the Active Distance Assist Distronic that maintains distance at speeds of up to 130 km/h and Active Steering Assist which keeps the car in the lane at speed of up to 210 km/h.
The rest of the safety assist features include Active Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, Active Lane Changing Assist, Active Emergency Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function and Active Blind Spot Assist with exit warning function. The Attention Assist detects the driver’s drowsiness and attempts to wake up the driver. If the driver cannot respond due to some reason, the car will stop on the side of the road and call for emergency help.
The new S-Class is absolutely amazing and it is simply hits and no misses at all. It has set a benchmark for its competitors to work upon because with all of this luxury and tech, it’s safe to say that it is way ahead. Prices have not been announced and we shall wait to hear which models are coming to SA shores.
Source: The New Mercedes Benz S-Class Press Information