Top-end luxury cars are regularly put forward as potential candidates for best car in the world honors and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon is definitely a frontrunner for the coveted crown.
After all, Mercedes did set itself the lofty target of making the best car in the world when it went about producing a new S-Class. And like many of its predecessors, the S-Class – while being impressively suave, supremely comfortable and an excellent drive – is also a pioneer, bringing Mercedes groundbreaking technologies to the fore.
It’s in the S-Class – the flagship of industry flagship models – that Mercedes debuts its most advanced technologies. The 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission, for example, is the technical highlight of the German carmaker’s transmission range. The seven forward gears are designed to ensure smaller shifts in engine speed and an optimal engine speed range for the S-Class Saloon.
The AIRMATIC suspension with continuously variable damping system, meanwhile, aims for the smoothest ride with springs and dampers which automatically change to softer or harder settings according to the Comfort or Sport mode chosen. The vehicle can also be raised on bad road surfaces, while it automatically lowers at high speeds for greater driving stability.
The S-Class Saloon exudes stylish superiority and sporty elegance, its exterior design suggestive of power and dynamism even when the car is at a standstill. The highly-charged feature line, three-dimensional radiator grille and innovative LED headlamps and bi colour tail lamps reflect the high-tech nature of this class-leading vehicle.
Among rival models in the luxury saloon segment, the Audi A8 has always traded on its understated looks and while handsome and well proportioned, it doesn’t turn heads like the S-Class. The BMW 7 Series has always struggled to match the imposing styling of its Mercedes counterpart and that of the beautifully-designed Jaguar XJ, considered by some to be the most stylish in the class.
The atmosphere of the S-Class Saloon’s more-spacious-than-ever interior, Mercedes-Benz says, is all about making the occupants feel good, comfortably relaxed and, should they choose, able to work in their mobile executive office. The rear seat can include a folding table, a cup holder and 230 volt socket.
The exclusive-looking interior boasts craftsmanship and materials reflective of Mercedes-Benz quality, like controls made from aluminium and with metallised switch surfaces in pearl-effect finishes. Warm, white interior lighting and optional ambient lighting with seven colour moods to choose from add to the ambience. And the interior air is not just filtered, it’s ionized too.
In addition to standard comfort features like THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control, heated front seats and panoramic sliding sunroof, a host of optional features is available for the S-Class Saloon – including the AIR-BALANCE package, climatised front seats and the Seat Comfort package for the front seats.
The Audi A8 boasts a spacious interior that features top quality materials and an opulent feel and, as to be expected, its own fair share of optional equipment as well as an array of leathers, veneers and inlays to add even more opulence. Interior is not the BMW 7 Series strongest point, but a 2012 facelift did result in more efficient engines and a whole host of new cutting-edge technology.
The big luxury limo that it is, the Jaguar XJ’s interior is distinctive, beautiful and luxurious all at once. And it’s more than just a pretty face, also offering power and sporty performance. The XJ may not be quite as good to drive as the 7 Series nor as comfortable as the S-Class but it edges both rivals when it comes to charm and personality.
On the road, the S-Class serves up precision, poise and balance and while it’s no sports car, this saloon can still belt along with haste. Tire roar is well suppressed for the all-important rear passengers and the ride nicely rounded off. The Mercedes blend of steely body control and almost endlessly compliant bump absorption is hard to best.
The A8, famed for its sharp dynamics and quattro all-wheel-drive composure, boasts plenty of grip and taut body control with reassuring stability at speed.
The 7 Series is remarkably agile for a car of its size and can challenge much smaller models when it comes to driving thrills, while the XJ delivers a powerful, firm and quiet ride even at speed thanks to the interior being so well insulated. Made from lightweight aluminium, the Jaguar also feels more agile than its size would suggest.
Mercedes-Benz prides itself on its safety technologies and the S-Class Saloon employs intelligently networked driver assistance and safety systems. Standard in the luxury saloon are Active Parking Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST, Brake Assist, the LED Intelligent Light System, a reversing camera, anti-lock braking (ABS), acceleration skid control (ASR), airbags and sidebags in the front, sidebags in the rear and windowbags, among other features, and there are various optional features which can be added.
The LED Intelligent Light System comprises LED dipped beams, high beams, turn indicators, daytime running lamps, position markers and cornering light, variable light distribution for country roads, motorways and dense fog, active light function, dynamic headlamp range adjustment and cornering light function.
The S-Class Saloon is available in the Hong Kong market as the V6-powered S 400 HYBRID or the V8-powered S 500 model, the S 400 HYBRID running on an alternative drive system in line with Mercedes efforts toward emission-free driving in the future.