2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Tech-filled S is what a flagship should be
Mercedes' luxury sedan is loaded with features for safety and comfort.
GRAVENHURST, OnT.?The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a study in big thinking.
From its physical dimensions and stunning list of amenities to the sheer breadth and complexity of its technology, this car is the embodiment of what a flagship sedan should be.
After spending a day in the Muskoka region with one, there’s enough what’s next in this car to warrant a three-part series.
The S-Class offers an exceedingly quiet, comfortable and luxurious ride. If near isolation from the noise and disruptive chaos of the outside world is important to you, you’ll love this car.
The testers I drove were finished in rich wood grain, brushed metal and quilted leather that gave the impression of being nestled in a cocoon of tranquility.
The controls, switches and various implements to operate the seats, climate settings and a complex infotainment system were blessedly straightforward.
Luxury brands sometimes have a hard time deciding when enough is enough with interior bells and whistles, but the S-Class doesn’t overwhelm.
Although it is helpful if you’re somewhat tech-savvy, you don’t have to be an aficionado in order to feel comfortable.
This sedan is no slouch on the road, either. Paired with a slick seven-speed G-Tronic automatic transmission, the 4.6-litre V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque.
Despite a 2,015-kilogram curb weight and a 3,165-mm wheelbase, the long-wheelbase model I drove needs just 4.8 seconds to go from 0-100 km/h and has a top speed of 250 km/h. All of this oomph makes passing a breeze.
As I mentioned earlier, Mercedes has packaged the car with a wide array of impressive technologies.
Chief among them is the optional Intelligent Drive, the name given to the accident-mitigation measures that work off of a sensor system comprised of radar sensors and a windshield-mounted stereoscopic camera.
Essentially, all of the systems are designed with safety in mind. From audible, visual and tactile warnings to automatically applying the brakes in order to avoid an accident (or lessen its severity), these systems serve as driver backup.
Although the car’s adaptive cruise control brakes and accelerates to follow along in slow traffic (up to 60 km/h), we’re still a long way from being able to sit back and take a nap while it delivers us to our intended destination.
But my brief periods of hands-free driving in the S-Class did move the ball forward in the autopilot department, as does the lane-keeping assist. It can detect when the adjacent lane is occupied and then apply the brakes on one side if the car begins to leave its lane unintentionally.
I left my lane intentionally a few times and the system worked exceedingly well in yanking me back on course.
The corrective action is sharper and more violent than I was expecting, but should prove effective at getting a distracted driver’s attention.
Another big highlight for the S-Class is Magic Body Control. Using the stereoscopic camera, the system adjusts the suspension settings based on a continuous scan of the upcoming road surface, up to 15 metres ahead.
The damping of each wheel is then adjusted to a harder or softer setting in anticipation of changing road conditions.
The system can work at speeds up to 130 km/h, but only in the day during good visibility for the camera.
Sadly, because the system is only available on rear-wheel-drive models, cars bound for Canada will not have this innovative feature, since we’re only getting all-wheel drive models.
A Mercedes engineer explained this is due to a lack of space with the all-wheel drive, something he expects to be resolved in the future.
The S-Class is loaded with innovative technology, possesses vault-like build quality, a timeless design and a pleasing level of sophistication.
Does it rise to the level of best car in the world, the lofty goal Mercedes set for it?
That’s for buyers to decide, but any car that can deliver six different massages to its occupants is surely worthy of consideration.
Transportation for freelance writer Lee Bailie was provided by the manu- facturer. firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Price: $106,600 base, $115,200 (long wheelbase)
Engine: 4.6-L V8
Power/Torque: 455 hp/516 lb.-ft.
Fuel Consumption L/100 km: 8.6 (base), 9.1 (long) combined, premium fuel
Competition: Lexus LS 460, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8
What’s Best: Dazzling technological package, sumptuous interior, potent and refined powertrain
What’s Worst: Some features are not available on Canadian models.
What’s Interesting: The price for both versions is significantly lower than the models they replace (more than $12,000 each).