For decades now for many across the world, the epitome of luxury on wheels has been the Mercedes S-Class. Even the company itself says that no other car in its portfolio represents the brand the way the S-Class does. In India too luxury car lovers swear by the brand as well as the car and a facelift of the saloon launched recently has once again brought the S-class back in focus. The new E-class set a new benchmark in luxury when it came last year, so the company had to go one better with the new S, and we were at the iconic Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, another epitome of luxury to see if that was the case.
First look of the updated S-class impresses. The front has changed where there is a bigger grille and a redesigned bumper. The former is now more similar to the Maybach brand of cars from the brand and the S-class owner will definitely like that. The radiator trim with three twin louvers and vertical bars in high-gloss black highlight the new look and the lower bumper with large air intakes gives a sporty appeal. Then there are the multibeam Led headlamps that are as much about safety as they are about practicality.
The strength of illumination is decided based upon an oncoming vehicle or the road ahead is empty. The three striking light torches in the headlamps are exclusive to the S-Class. The car also gets new 18-inch, 5-twin-spoke sporty look light-alloy wheels.
Let’s begin with the second row because that is where almost all S-class buyers will spend all their time. It will not be wrong to compare the rear seat with a business class seat of an airliner. At a press of a button the passenger side seat on the second row reclines and by a considerable angle. This is supported by the front seat relining forward, thigh support and foot board coming out and yours truly at six feet tall could spread his legs fully. And that’s not all the seat provides massage, heating and cooling functions, side and rear curtains and yes there’s panoramic sliding sunroof with an obstruction sensor as well. Personal entertainment screens are there as well but they’re not touch and can only be accessed via a remote. A 4-zone climate control and a wireless mobile charging in the centre arm rests just complete a luxurious rear seat experience. But the interior list doesn’t end there as some more highlights include a Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers and the infotainment screen that merges with the instrument cluster that is just so novel.
The biggest change on the updated S-class is of course the heart. The diesel variant of the new S-class is India’s first BS VI compliant car and the company says it can run on fuel that is BS-IV compliant. In fact at 286 bhp, the new inline-6, is the most powerful diesel engine ever produced by Mercedes-Benz India. At the same time the new engine consumes up to six percent less fuel. The S 450 petrol engine on the other hand is even more powerful at 367 bhp. This, thanks to twin turbocharging and intercooling on the 6 cylinder engine. Presence of driving modes ensures you get the desired ride and handling irrespective of whichever seat you’re spending time on.
With the introduction of radar-based driving assistance features on cars sold in India, the safety on the S-class has gone to a whole new level. Some of these features were demonstrated to us during the drive in Hyderabad and they do reduce the risk of accidents and enhance the protection. Primary amongst these is the Active Distance Assist or DISTRONIC that controls the distance to vehicles in front up to a speed of 210 km/h and if necessary brakes the vehicle with up to 50 percent of the maximum braking power. Also at speeds up to 210 km/h, Active Steering Assist helps the driver keep the vehicle in the center of its lane on straight stretches of road or slight bends. There are many more including the Active Braking Assist and Blind Spot Assist.
If there was any doubt whatsoever the S-Class is now a more complete car than it ever was. Many were calling the latest E-class the new S-class but this does stand apart. Even the BMW 7 series now has some serious competition. The luxury that comes inside this car will engulf you like never before and the drive is as comfortable as it ever was. So what’s left then? Well the price that starts at Rs. 1.33 crore (ex-showroom) for the Diesel variant and the petrol version that is priced at Rs. 1.37 crore (ex-showroom). These prices don’t exactly make the S-class affordable, but the tag of the best car in the world doesn’t come cheap.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars