Motors with Tony Conlon: If I were a rich man…
There is hardly a chauffeur in the world who has not carried a VIP in one, nor many countries’ embassies that don’t have one for their ambassadors.
I speak, of course, of Mercedes-Benz’s flagship model, the S-Class - the motoring personification of the world’s rich and famous.
The new generation S-Class has now arrived in Ireland in standard and long wheelbase versions. Showcasing technology that, in time, will likely appear in future Mercedes models – previous examples being ABS (1978), the airbag (1981) and ESP (1995) – its introduction prefaces the arrival of a veritable chorus line of new models, including electric and hybrid units scheduled throughout the year.
Designed with what Mercedes calls ‘a high-status grille’ highlighting its larger front, the car’s classically elegant and more contoured body shape has been given a subtle dash of sportiness evident in its imposing presence and posture.
Two petrols and three diesels are available initially. A plug-in hybrid will follow. All have V8, six-cylinder in-line engines and 9G-Tronic automatic transmissions.
Petrol models are an S450 and S500, both with 2,999cc engines, 4-Matic all-wheel-drive, a top speed of 250km/h and 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.1 secs and 4.9 seconds and torque of 500 and 520Nm, respectively.
Diesels are a S350d, S350d 4Matic and S400d 4Matic with top speeds of 250km/h, 0-100km/h acceleration from 6.4 to 5.4 seconds and torque of 600, 600 and 700Nm, respectively.
Ciaran Allen, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz in Ireland, believes demand can be expected to focus on the standard wheelbase 350d, launching at €121,865. “Beyond that, most models are likely to be bought by special order, fitted with features according to individual preference,” he said.
The latest S-Class comes with an even higher level of standard specifications with standard items that include AMG Design Line, rear thermatronic climate control, Nappa leather upholstery and trim, heated rear seats, metallic paint and OLED touchscreen with augmented reality.
The emphasis on interior spaciousness and comfort sees driver and rear passenger elbow room increased by 38mm and 23mm, respectively, with 16mm higher rear headroom. The car’s 550-litres boot has increased by 20 litres.
Interior ambiance is altogether quieter and more comfortable thanks to improved acoustics and additional air and hydraulic features that adjust suspension and dampen body movement to enhance ride comfort.
The second-generation Mercedes-Benz MBUX User Experience with 3D display comes with 50% better computing power. Features include eye-tracking spatial perception using cameras and algorithms that anticipate occupant wishes and interpret body language, head and hand movements to manage functions.
Door handles that retract flush with the body when not in use or travelling extend automatically when the driver approaches or touches their outer surface.
Other enhancements include measures to protect the vehicle against vandalism, improved driver assistance packages, an active body control feature which raises the vehicle up to 8cm when a side impact threatens, and a new headlamp technology which projects warning symbols onto the road ahead.
Optional extras include supplementary ambient lighting, rear airbags, and driver assist tech developed to reduce the turning circle on long wheelbase models.
The start/stop function works almost imperceptibly without turbo lag thanks to a powerful electric booster and integrated starter generator.