Drive Away 2Day

2014 Mercedes S-Class : Current Models

The last word in luxury limos hasn't been spoken until Mercedes-Benz has had the floor. Herr Dr. Benz’s firm was making the preferred shipping containers for the mostly unelected elite when Audi was merely a business plan, when BMW was in the bubble-car business, and when the word “lexus” was just badly butchered Latin. No company in this market has more experience catering to finicky buyers.

Thus does Mercedes now deliver its latest take on the executive-level sedan after just about everybody else, from Hyundai to Hongqi, has taken a shot. Over the years, Benz and its closest competitors have reduced power, handling, and comfort to commodities. Supplying them in overabundance is the table ante now, so the strategy with the new S, code-named W222 and initially available in the U.S. as the S550 and S550 4MATIC, has been to think of what else the rich desire even before the rich think of it themselves.

For example, absolutely nobody knows he needs two reverse gear ratios or stereo-speaker mood lights in seven driver-selectable colors. At least, not yet. Or seat coolers that suck (air) for four minutes before they blow, which does indeed chill your sweaty backside more quickly. The “hot-stone massage” feature, also optional, feels as if somebody were poking you with warm snooker balls. And the softer pillows on the headrests of the two optional, electrically reclining “executive” rear chairs are like dunking your head into clotted cream. Americans even get special maxi air conditioning that can channel a nor’easter at your chest, something Europeans hate, apparently.

There’s more, with Mad Men–marketing names such as Magic Vision Control for wiper blades that incorporate tiny washer nozzles so your vision isn’t momentarily obstructed by the usual splurge of water. The Air-Balance system perfumes the cabin with your choice of atomized scents, “a world first,” trumpets the 154-page press kit. A fully outfitted W222 has more than 100 electric motors onboard.

However, the S class’s most byzantine feature must be Magic Body Control, supplied with the optional hydraulic active body control (ABC) suspension. It employs the car’s stereoscopic, or twin, cameras to “see” bumps in the road ahead and then relaxes the suspension to the consistency of overcooked macaroni in time to float the body over the obstacle. It is a truly bizarre feeling to expect to be tossed into the roof at 30 mph over a speed bump, only to feel…nothing. How Europe’s crowned heads would have treasured this feature a few centuries ago as ruts and diseased peasants lay in the path of their chaise-and-fours!

Magic Body Control is a bit of a one-trick pony, though, as it works best at low speed and on the kind of long, flat-topped speed bumps that are common in Europe. The cameras, which basically scan for shadows or scene contrast, can’t see pavement fissures and everyday wheel bouncers such as manhole depressions, which arrive too suddenly for the system to react. And bad weather blinds its eyes.

Although it’s tempting to dismiss the new S as a collection of supernumeraries on what is still just a car for going from hither to yon, such exhaustive gadgeting is what automakers at this level need to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.

Besides, the W222 sees more tangible improvements, including a stiffer structure and a claimed better balance that places just 52 percent of the weight on the front axle. It’s made possible partly by building about half the car, including all the closure panels and the structure forward of the firewall, out of aluminum, as well as trimming mass from the brakes, suspension, and wiring. The result is a 455-hp S550 (up by 26, despite the carry-over of the twin-turbo 4.7-liter V-8) that accelerates and handles better than many former AMGs.

Given the engineering brief—to totally isolate the cabin from noise and vibration—we won’t fault steering that doesn’t transmit every texture. The smiling two-spoke steering wheel, with “Mercedes-Benz” engraved on it in the elegant old-fashioned script, might look a bit fogyish, but its heft and directness along with the firm brakes let you cover ground rapidly and with competent ease.

Even with its magical enhancements, the firmly tuned suspension can thump into a pothole, and every so often the seven-speed automatic duffs a shift with a slight jerk. Perhaps total isolation from internal combustion machinery isn’t possible, but the interior roar at autobahn speed is so muted that you can whisper directions to your driver as needed.

Returning somewhat to form after its busy, overly styled W221 predecessor, the S-class offers its full—nay, its presidential—suite of electronic do-something-or-others packaged in a comparatively simple and scrupulously conservative set of lines. The cabin appears to slide aft onto the haunches to accentuate a long, flat hood that’s capped by a large, bodaciously Benz grille now tilted more vertically. Down the side, a single rearward-descending tendon in the sheetmetal steals the same visual trick as the CLA’s designers were after: a car that looks defiantly nose-high but tush-tucked by the best cutter in Beverly Hills.

The soft goods indoors have been elevated to help the S stand in for the demise of Maybach and fend off  brands such as Bentley and Maserati, which are moving down to Mercedes’ turf. Perforated by the small, round air vents that launch a new in­teri­or design theme, a broad wood band rings the driver and passenger low on the dash to leave space for the IMAX-size nav-and-information display. Brushed aluminum and carbon won’t be available until the later S63, but you can have ash trim that is dyed silver. The high-res screen, a cinematic 12.3 inches diagonally, is the central feature of an imposing all-digital dash and center console intended by the designers to make the driver and passenger feel ensconced behind fortress ramparts.

Mercedes will build a total of six versions of the W222, we’re told: a short, a long, an extra-long, a coupe, a convertible, and a majestic Pullman to make you forget the Maybach, if you haven’t already. The U.S. receives only the S550 long version at launch, although the S63 AMG will arrive early next year with others to follow. Benz will offer the most choices by far in this segment, but as you can see, the 2014 S-class is all about options.

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Sources : 2014 Mercedes S-Class Photo | 2014 Mercedes S-Class Article | 2014 Mercedes S-Class Interior Photo | 2014 Mercedes S-Class Photo 2 | 2014 Mercedes S-Class Rear Photo


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