A flying carpet

K SHIVRAJ
Saturday, 28 April 2018

With a highly impressive diesel engine at the centre, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class builds on its traditional strengths of quality, comfort, ride and refinement.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class may not look very different from the model it replaces, but packs in a lot of new features. The grille, bumpers and lights are new. Changes under the skin are even more extensive. Powering the luxury sedan is a state-of-the-art diesel engine. There’s semi-autonomous tech with a suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) tagging along. Termed as ‘Triple Torch’ design, the new head lamps of the car get a single daylight running light strip made of LEDs. It also presents hierarchy to the Mercedes-Benz range and establishes the S-class as the top offering with three light strips.

The main beam is claimed to be powerful enough to light objects 650m away. While the grille gets new louvres and a high-gloss-black finish for the vertical slats, the portion at the centre serves as a location for all the advanced driving aid sensors. The redesigned bumper has a sportier look to it. 

A modern infotainment system
Viewed from an angle, the overall profile of the S-Class hasn’t changed much. But the five-spoke 18-inch dia alloys are new. They look small and not as impressive. At the rear, the lamps produce an impressive crystal effect. The ‘coming home’ function has the lights fading from blue to white. Past the hefty doors using a key fob finished in proprietary white, the cabin of the S-Class looks familiar and isn’t as modern as the BMW 7-Series or as high tech as the Audi A8. Dotting the cabin are the retro-looking circular vents, chrome bits and wood inserts.

However, the infotainment system is modern and includes two big 12.3-inch displays with stunningly sharp and clear graphics. They have been integrated into a one-piece glass panel and offer a myriad of customisable display options. The system also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Occupant’s phone can be wirelessly charged in the front and back. However, it works with high-end phones only with wireless charging capability. 

Unparalleled seat comfort 
Wrapped in Nappa leather, the steering wheel is all-new. The number of buttons on it is a bit of an overkill however. There’s no stalk behind the wheel, and all the functions, including the cruise control, have been moved to the wheel. The good part is how easy the buttons are to operate. Offering 64 colour ambient lighting, the new S-Class continues to offer unparalleled rear seat comfort in its category.

The seats are just perfect, they electrically recline and have a retractable footrest. The 286bhp, 3-litre OM656 diesel engine is an engineering masterstroke, and comes with ‘stepped bowl’ pistons, low-friction ‘Nanoslide’ coating on cylinder walls, common rail injection system with a high 2500bar injection pressure, and a bigger catalytic converter. The in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel motor is equipped with a particulate filter and a Selective Catalytic Converter (SCR) with an Adblue dosing tank. Mated to an all-new nine-speed automatic gearbox driven by a multi-clutch setup rather than a torque converter, the engine results in a brilliant performance.  

A refined diesel sedan 
Weighing a touch less than two-tonnes, the S 350d could do 0 to 100kmph in under seven seconds. Quite refined for a diesel, the new S-Class, even under acceleration feels quiet and refined. The active steering of the S-Class offers good feedback. It, however, is not as direct or as spot-on as that of the 7-Series, despite being a part of ADAS and driver assistance features.

A useful feature of the ADAS and driver assistance technology is Distronic adaptive cruise control, which checks the distance between this and the car in front. If the car in front is slowing down, the Distronic brakes help  the S-Class to slow down and if the car ahead stops, Distronic brakes brings the S-Class to a stop. With no car in front, it maintains selected speed. The S-Class also uses a camera, as part of its Magic Body control to scan the road ahead and set up the active suspension in advance to deal with bumps, potholes, and other imperfections. 

Verdict
The ride is like a flying carpet. Irregularities are tackled as if they don’t exist. The best part is the suspension. Except in the softest Eco and Comfort mode, the S-Class handles quite well. The active braking assist and active blind spot assist, again a part of ADAS and driver assistance system, prove to be useful. With a highly impressive diesel engine at the centre, the new S-Class builds on its traditional strengths of quality, comfort, ride and refinement. In terms of technology, it may not be the most outstanding, but the way it packages technology or integrates it is worthy of appreciation. At Rs 1.33 crore ex-showroom, the S-Class still is the big sedan that defines luxury. 

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