Mercedes’ range leader is best in class

I have a female friend who, when I had the fantastic E-Class Mercedes Coupe earlier this year, was completely captivated by the ambient lighting which adorned the car’s interior.

She was completely smitten by the fact that you could adjust the available colours — to suit your mood, or the time of day, or whatever.

I also have a male friend and long-time Merc-head. He too was completely infatuated with the same car — and rightly so. It’s so damn good-looking. Although, he was not particularly interested in the lighting.

Two very different people captivated by the same car for completely differing reasons. Strange.

But — and very surprisingly to me, neither of them got the same shivers when it came to the daddy-of-them-all, the S-Class, when it arrived at chez Colley, especially as such class has now pretty much shed its post-crash inhibition and is now nearly socially acceptable again.

It mattered little though to my lady friend that the S-Class itself was a sublime looking machine which drove every bit as good as it looked or that it was a technological master-class in executive motoring. No, it was the colours you could generate inside the car that caught the imagination.

Thus, when the same lady came across the wonderful new S-Class in my driveway, she immediately wanted to inspect the inside to see if it had the same cosmic — indeed if not psychedelic — characteristics which adorned the lesser E-Class model.

In truth, I was so flustered by this query that I was unable to activate the 64-colour ambient lighting system on the S-Class — much to my friend’s disappointment.

When I got the car it was set to the most basic interior lighting setting and, to be honest, I was so engaged by the magnificence of the S-Class as a technical and design masterpiece, the interior lighting was the last thing on my mind.

But folks differ about lots of things and the disappointment of my lady friend that I was unable — or even a little unwilling, to be frank — to charge her automotive fantasies by setting off a kaleidoscope of wonderment thanks to the marvels that the LED system can create. I was more in awe of the rest of the thing.

Now, while this latest S-Class incarnation is actually only a face-lifted version of the 2014 and sixth generation of the model.

I use the word ‘only’ with some caution because Mercedes has, in the face of increasing competition from such as the new A8 from Audi, a forthcoming new Lexus LS and the latest 7 Series from BMW, pretty much thrown the kitchen sink at this revamp.

There are new engines, a fresh cabin and a whole raft of assistance and tech kit and a couple of styling revisions to keep the S-Class the special thing it is.

That it is so special is quantifiable by the fact that even in what is a relatively restricted market, Mercedes have managed to sell 300,000 of them since the current model was launched in 2013.

But with some 1,600 new components, a new range of petrol and diesel in-line sixes and V8 and V12 options as well, it might seem churlish to label this car a mere facelift.

It does seem much more than that and the result is pretty spectacular.

It may be that some of the tech upgrades on offer here are already on the E-Class (and we already know how good that is), but Mercedes has certainly ramped things up — as should be the case for a car intended to be as awesome as the S-Class is.

Indeed, some of the stuff on the car offer here is taking the technological possibilities pretty much as far as is legal right now.

Even things like the parking package is massively impressive — it will do anything asked of it with seriously nail-biting accuracy. Truly it will do things you’d be reluctant to tackle yourself.

Of course, it is worth noting too that many of the new technologies seen here for the first time will eventually filter down to lesser Mercedes models and that single fact will give you a good idea just how sophisticated and smart this car is and why it has always been — and continues to be — the car to which everyone else aspires.

And then there is the vast leather-clad interior in which you and your passengers can bask in the sort of luxury you’d be hard-pressed to find in the Burj Al Arab.

There’s enough space in there to host a rock concert and the tester even came with an optional (€2,043) TV receiver which can keep the passengers occupied while you waft them around the place. The boot would swallow a small Irish county whole.

The ride, as you might expect is sensational.

Air suspension is standard and the disdainful manner which the car treats bad surfaces is a source of wonder. So too is the handling which is ridiculously good and almost too good for a car of this size.

Something this big should never be as nimble as it is, but it corners like a Mini while all the time demonstrating the sort of reserved savoir faire that you expect from a luxobarge.

The tester was fitted with the very pleasing in-line six turbodiesel, which is both cleaner and more powerful than previous iterations. Allied to a new nine-speed auto ’box — which is
terribly intuitive and very poised — the engine outputs some 286 bhp and a massive 600 Nm of torque.

This in turn results in a 6.0 second 0-100 km/h time, a limited top speed of 250 kph, while returning a consumption figure of 5.1 l/100 km (nearly 55 mpg) and emitting just 139 g/km for an annual tax bill of just €280.

Good and all as those figures are, they do not convey the sheer ‘specialness’ of the S-Class.

Merely sitting in it will wilt most people’s resistance immediately and I can tell you that even the most hardened naysayer will find it difficult to pick holes in any aspect of this car’s character.

That is, of course, unless you’re fixated about the interior lighting. But the truth is that this thing is about so much more than a fancy-dan interior lighting system.

It is about being the best in class. It is about being an exceptional motor car. It is about being an innovator. It is about luxury. And it is about re-defining motoring elegance like no other.

The S-Class ticks all those boxes — and then some.



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