It’s been just over a month since the new 7th generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class was launched in India, and most of the first batch of cars have sold out, indicating the appeal of this sleek and powerful vehicle that attracted more than 8,000 customers when it launched in 2000.
At 5.3m long and 2m wide, the long-wheelbase S combines luxury, technology and performance. A few months ago, at the World Car Awards, it was voted World Luxury Car 2021, an endorsement that each iteration of the S-Class – the S stands for Sonderklasse or specially designed – is better built than the last. The first batch of cars in India get the AMG line styling kit, which adds a touch of sportiness with the eye-catching 20-inch rims, blue-detailed digital lamps that can illuminate up to 650m and LED taillights distinctive with a unique lighting sequence. The doors close smoothly as always, while the flush handles pop out as you approach. The hands-free trunk opens to reveal a luggage compartment big enough for airport errands, but it doesn’t quite match the size of this car with the space-saving tire and amplifier for the system audio taking up space.
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The S-Class cabin has always been a refined affair; while the New S still feels as plush as ever, it’s more avant-garde in its layout. Large screens and touch controls, active ambient lights that flash warnings or create atmosphere, and capacitive seat controls make it very modern. From the moment you open the large rear door and settle into the plush Nappa leather rear seat, it’s a world of luxury and opulence. You can choose from a range of programs that adjust cabin conditions for a comfortable ride. The “Chauffeur Package”, for example, allows full stretch for first-class cabin comfort in the rear seats at the push of a button, even accommodating six-footers with ease. However, the front passenger seat in its most forward position obstructs the driver’s view of the exterior mirror, so it is advisable not to push the seat forward to the final position.
At 5.3m long and 2m wide, the long-wheelbase S combines luxury, technology and performance.
Once relaxed and settled, the silence in the cabin is soothing. You can choose the “energizing comfort” program which recreates the feeling of being in the forest or by the sea, among other things, to relax. It combines lights, sounds, aromas and massage functions to provide a spa-like experience for passengers. I found it so calming, I would say you could probably do your daily meditation on the way to work or use the more upbeat options after a hard day, on the way home, switch to different program settings to energize yourself and rejuvenate yourself. Sound comes from the 31-speaker Burmester system with an option to switch to 4D sound where built-in actuators in the back of the seat allow you to feel the beats as a truly immersive experience. Although it was quite fascinating at first, it felt intrusive after a while – it’s probably best to take advantage of the wide variety of other sound settings.
There’s more to pamper rear-seat passengers: a 7-inch tablet allows you to surf the net or access car functions. The rear screens have HDMI ports that support a dongle or Firestick. Dedicated air conditioning for the rear seats, a wireless charger and sun blinds allow you to move around in luxury. The throne-like ventilated front seats also offer massage functions, so your driver benefits from the experience as well.
The dash that wraps around the doors in a big, shiny panel looks decadent, but it’s the little details like the illuminated seatbelt clasps that make you feel like no expense has been spared to s ensure the customer gets the best. The huge, vertically oriented 12.8-inch touchscreen is an eye-catcher on which you can access all of your car’s controls by getting rid of 27 physical buttons. The OLED display is brilliant, the graphics top-notch, and the haptic feedback superb. However, it’s not perfect as accessing simple functions like adjusting the temperature requires a few steps. One can overcome this by using voice commands. Just say “Hey Mercedes” and ask. Fingerprint recognition allows you to personalize your profile on the MBUX system.
The dashboard not only displays a wealth of information, but also has a unique 3D display option. The S-Class is also equipped with a panoramic sunroof, rear neck warmer, integrated fragrance dispenser, connected car technology, wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and automatic parking.
Owners should know that parking this massive car is super easy with a new trick the 7th Gen S has up its sleeve: rear wheel steering allows up to 4.5 degrees of movement in the opposite direction to the wheels before.
The list of security features is just as long. The S-Class gets 10 airbags, including two forward-facing for rear-seat occupants. There’s also the full range of electronic aids, plus advanced driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and emergency braking.
The new S-Class also has air suspension that gives passengers a cloud-like ride at low speeds, but it’s not as balanced as the previous model when you pick up the pace. This is due to the low profile 255/40-R tires on the first batch of cars in the AMG lineup. Indian-assembled cars that will come later should have a better ride with more sidewall protection. The air suspension is also handy for raising height on high-speed breakers, especially with that long wheelbase.
The S 400d 4Matic I drove comes with a 3.0-litre diesel inline-six producing 330PS and 700NM of torque; power is transmitted to all four wheels. The engine is so refined it’s hard to believe it’s a diesel car. The way he builds speed in a distilled way speaks to his pedigree. The power is delivered so strongly and effortlessly that you never feel like you’re driving a massive car. The 9-speed gearbox shifts smoothly, shifting up or down, letting you make the most of the power. Step on the throttle and the needle goes past 100 in just 5.4 seconds, which is incredibly fast. More impressive is how it hides speed. Rear-seat passengers would never know it’s going so fast if they didn’t see the scenery rolling by through the large glass windows and massive panoramic sunroof.
What’s surprising, however, is how this big, heavy limo handles. The steering gives you a great feel, and owners can really enjoy out-of-town driving with the poise and confidence the S delivers around the corners. But more than that, owners should know that parking this massive car is super easy with a new trick the 7th Gen S has up its sleeve: rear wheel steering allows up to 4.5 degrees of movement in the opposite direction to the front wheels, dramatically improving handling and providing the feeling of downsizing the car when you drive it.
At Rs2.17 crore for the S400d 4Matic and Rs2.19 crore for the S450 4Matic, the S-Class is expensive even by luxury limo standards, but it’s a true luxury limo in every way – and that makes let the world know that you have arrived.
The writer is Editor-in-Chief, Autocar Show
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