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Mercedes-Benz S-Class

First-class transportation on land is ready for embarkation. Just bring caviar and champers.

When the president speaks, the room turns silent. Everyone listens. Perhaps it’s a vision that you have or a goal that you’ve set, nobody questions it. You may even get gawkers. And the competitors wish they were in your position: “Why didn’t I think of that before?”

Like you, this is exactly what the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is about.

Since the very first Mercedes Simplex 60bhp – the then flagship model – back at the start of the 20th century, the three-pointed star has been setting the benchmark for luxury automobiles. Over the decades, the company’s flagship limousines have always stayed ahead of the game – be it being the first to offer state-of-the-art technologies or setting the luxury bar higher.

After 15 generations, the new S-Class still has that vision in mind. Among some of the technological advancements seen on this new iteration is the Magic Body Control feature. The car scans the road ahead and pre-empts any undulations, by cleverly adjusting its suspension to cancel out any unevenness for an ultra-smooth ride. This feature can be found only on the range-topping S 500 L. It wasn’t available on our S 400 L Hybrid test car, which nevertheless has an air- suspension system that was more than adequate to smooth the ride.

Mercedes-Benz is also proud of the lighting system on the new S-Class. There isn’t a single light bulb in this car, the company says, and it’s the first one at that. Instead, the engineers use light-emitting diodes, more commonly known as LEDs, extensively – and exclusively. Even the headlights employ the use of the low-energy, high-luminosity lighting. To be exact, 56 of them in each of its lamps. Inside, an armada of 300 LEDs bathe the interior in seven selectable hues to suit the mood. In the rear are another 70 in red and amber, making it about 500 LEDs throughout the car.

Apart from increasing visibility over regular bulbs, LED also reduces energy consumption and heat emission. Speaking of being more environmentally friendly, the initial S-Class line-up includes the diesel-powered S 350 L and the hybrid S 400 L, which have fuel consumption of 5.6 litres/100km and 6.6 litres/100km, respectively.

The S 400 L seen here is equipped with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that is mated with an electric motor to deliver 306bhp and 370Nm of torque to the ground. Despite its frugality, it is able to sprint to 100kmh in a respectable 6.8 seconds, just in case you are in a hurry to get to the board meeting.

The car's body was built to be long from the start to cater to Asian customers, as most are said to spend their time in the back seat, rather than at the wheel.
The car’s body was built to be long from the start to cater to Asian customers, as most are said to spend their time in the back seat, rather than at the wheel.

But, if you want to take things slow, the cabin is the perfect place to unwind before your next appearance. When the doors seals shut, you are cocooned in the luxury that the S-Class is famous for. Re-energise with the “hot stone” massage on the plush, contoured seats. Pressure too little? Just up the intensity. Lay your head back on the plush headrest, close your eyes and relax. This is so comfortable that even insomniacs will struggle to keep awake. Oh, did we mention that the rear seats also recline up to 43.5 degrees – the equivalent of a lay-flat seat in the first-class cabin in the air.

To keep things in the mood, you can pipe your favourite relaxing tunes into the Burmester audio system. High-fidelity enthusiasts would know the brand for its outstanding sound reproduction.

You can also increase the intensity of the scent emanating from the air-conditioning, which is part of the Air Balance system developed by the olfactory experts at Mercedes-Benz. There are four fragrances: Sports, Downtown, Nightlife and Freeside moods, each with a unique and distinct aroma. Each comes in a canister that is placed in a receptacle in the glove compartment. Nightlife Mood, for example, is supposed to evoke the sense that you are in front of the fireplace, with a Scotch in hand. But don’t worry, you will not smell like you’ve just come from the club, because the fragrances are supposed to be subtle and disperse quickly without clinging to your clothes.

Unlike earlier models where the standard car was stretched to develop a long wheelbase model, this new iteration was developed as an extended version right from the start, and offered as a shortened version in some markets. This is perhaps a clear shift of focus to Mercedes-Benz’s Asian customers, because it says most Asian owners spend their time in the back seat rather than behind the steering wheel. That said, this luxo-cruiser is still a good drive for those who prefer to take the helm themselves, despite the larger dimensions.

In fact, the S 400 L Hybrid never feels as big as it really is, when it’s on the go. Turn-ins are crisp and handling is spot on, as you rush through a corner.
With so many innovations and interesting features, we may soon find them trickling – in typical fashion – down the range of Mercedes cars and into its competitors’ offerings. But, for now, the president has spoken and it’s time to just listen.

THE NUMBERS
Engine: 3.5-litre, V6 hybrid
Power: 306bhp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 3,500-5,250rpm
0-100KMH: 6.8 seconds