The Mercedes-Benz S Class wants to be the Maybach of the 21st century.
By Nathaniel Stillman
Last year Daimler ended the historic run of the luxurious Maybach brand. The gap it left in the market as the most exclusive car from the German automotive group will have to be filled by the new S-class from Mercedes-Benz, recently unveiled in Europe.
It will be a new challenge for this model that has always tried to set new standards in refinement and comfort within the automotive world. One of the most important indications that the S-class wants to fill the gap left by Maybach is the fact that, for the first time in the history of this class, the focus has been the development of a sedan with a long wheelbase.
Contrary to previous generations, the short version or coupe is the derivation of a sedan with extra space. It is clear that Mercedes-Benz wants to boost its image as a vehicle of representation to be driven by a chauffeur. The logical consequence is that the new S-class has incorporated numerous innovations that increase the comfort and safety in the rear seats. The occupants benefit from the moderate increase in the dimensions of this new model, which offers what the brand calls "First Class". It allows us to customize the backspace to become, for example, a small office with a keyboard for the computer, additional compartments and small tables. In addition, you can choose between five different versions of backseats, including one where the backrest tilts up to 43.5 degrees.
The technology incorporated into this new Mercedes-Benz is also geared to improve driving comfort. The S-class is the first automobile in the world able to detect in advance any ripples on the road, and adapt the undercarriage to the new circumstances without inconveniencing the passengers. This is achieved by the use of a stereoscopic camera that detects any irregularity on the road.
Among the safety options included in this model, the security belts with integrated airbag are one of the main novelties. The belts have an inflatable tape that can reduce the risk of injury to occupants since it reduces the force of the impact in the area of the chest in the event of a frontal collision.
The range of models in the first year of the new S-Class includes the S 400 HYBRID, S 500, S 350 BlueTEC and the S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID; that is, two hybrid models, one diesel and one with a gasoline engine. The S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, with 204 Horsepower, offers a surprisingly low consumption: just 4.4 liters per 100 km (60 miles), a figure which only a few years ago would have been unthinkable for a sedan of this magnitude.
In terms of design, the outside line is an evolution of the previous version, but with a more stylized, rounded and elegant silhouette, in keeping with the design Mercedes-Benz has been promoting in its latest models. The headlights are now slightly larger and lobed, while its front grille hardly shows any changes and maintains its trapezoidal structure.
The new S-class has undergone major stylistic changes in its internal cockpit. Now it looks more classic and elegant, and at the same time more exclusive. The generous use of wood, as a decorative element in the dashboard and central console, is remarkable, as is the large screen next to the driver's seat. ■