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Review: Mercedes S-class

Driven January 2014

Review: Mercedes S-class

They call the Mercedes S-class the best car in the world. I’d raise my hand if that one’s up for debate. But I wouldn’t debate one thing. It’s the harbinger of future technology. Tech that’s standard in today’s cars – ABS, ESP, monocoque construction, airbags… they all first came in an S. Or its predecessors.

For now, here’s the all new S-class. And straight away it comes with killer tech – Magic Body Control. It detects variations on the road surface via radar and prepares the suspension in such a way that it remains flat irrespective of the undulations on the road. Including speed bumps. However, thanks to the Indian government’s rules on radar, the S will not get Magic Body Control in India.

However, what the all new S gets is a lot of other toys for rich boys to play with. There’s a 360-degree camera, cameras under the side mirrors to give you that helicopter view when negotiating tight spaces and a night vision camera. Speaking about tight spaces, the S has an extremely compact turning radius for what’s a massively long car. However, the car’s massiveness is evident when you push it around corners. The two-tonne car will get to a 100kph in under six seconds. But it doesn’t enjoy being hurried into corners and S-bends. Rather, it gets the job done. But if you are driving the car through those corners and bends, you won’t enjoy it much.

What you will enjoy, though, are the rear seats. They come with everything – coolers, heaters, recliners, massagers, foot-rests, TV screens and cup-holders that keep your drink chilled or warm. However, such comforts is not worth all those crores Mercedes asks for this car. What makes this car worth the money is the way in which it cuts out all sensations of motion. You can’t hear much of the outside. Wind and tyre noise needs a lot of effort to get in through those double-glass windows. And how much ever violently your chauffeur brakes, accelerates or turns, you at the back will not feel any dives or jerks from the chassis. Your part of the car remains magically flat and stable. However, owning to the lack of Magic Body Control, you will know when you go over deep potholes and massive speed-bumps.

The S-class isn’t a great driver’s car, but the only car that’s as good as keeping rear passengers comfortable is one that reads Rolls-Royce on the label. The new S continues with the difficult job of providing more innovation, more comfort and more performance and offering the best pair of rear seats in the business. Mercedes is in talks with the Indian government in trying to ensure the radar-enabled Magic Body Control can be made available in the future. Till then, all you need to do is open the rear door, lounge in the rear seat and shut out the world. Of course, you’d have to pay for it.

The numbers
4663cc V8 turbopetrol, 449bhp, 700Nm, 7A, RWD, 2015kgs, Fuel capacity: 80 Litres, 0-100kph: 5.78secs, 80-0kph: 2.23secs, 24.66 mtrs, 30-50kph: 1.22secs, 50-70kph: 1.42secs, Mileage: Highway kpl: 5.9, City kpl: 5.3, Average kpl: 5.6, Rs 1.5 crore (estimated)

The verdict
The best car right now to get driven around in.

Sriram Narayanan

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