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Swift, safe and secure S-Class

2013-11-16 13:36

SIMPLY THE BEST? The Mercedes-Benz new S-Class range is simply stunning to look at and even better to drive. Image: Mercedes-Benz


Mercedes-Benz is hard at work on development of its S-Class Coupe, the car that will replace the CL-Class previewed as a concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.


It’s an age-old conundrum for petrol heads to argue over everywhere from morning to night, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year: perhaps at their favourite bar or maybe while enjoying a braai…

Which car company manufactures the world’s greatest car?

Well just this week, I may well have finally found a real contender while attending Mercedes-Benz’ S-Class launch right here in the Mother City, Cape Town.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class image gallery

It’s been a while since I have been so impressed at a car reveal – and subsequently smitten hook, line and sinker as it happens – as he was when one of the German triumvirate, Mercedes-Benz, invited the South African motoring media to drive their superlative, new-for-2014 S-Class flagship range … if only for a few short while.


It goes without saying that the S-Class is the car of choice for presidents, prime ministers, potentates, and in fact every type of high roller found globally; while international TV and film celebrities love being seen in them. This particular Mercedes-Benz model is particularly capable of cosseting them while swiftly and safely carrying them to and from their chosen destination, wherever that may be.

As with every generation before it, customers expect this latest model to set standards across the board to retain its accolade as arguably "the best automobile in the world".

Martin Zimmermann, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz SA, reckons: "Rather than being about safety or aesthetics, power or efficiency, comfort or dynamism, our goal was 'the best or nothing' in every respect. No other car stands for the Mercedes-Benz brand promise more than the S-Class."

Conundrum No.2 for me: is it better to drive a car of this stature or let your chauffeur have all the fun while you are pampered like no other Earthling in the rear of arguably the most luxurious car in the world?

Decisions… decisions. Gladly the opportunity became available to do both.


Let’s start behind the wheel, then, in any of the six models of S-Class, whether it be the S350 BlueTEC (R1 214 000), the S400 Hybrid (R1 227 100), S400 Hybrid Long (R1 248 200), the S500 BlueEFFICIENCY (R1 564 100) or the S500 BlueEFFICIENCY long (R1 766 100) or the eagerly-awaited halo car in the range, the utterly awesome S63 AMG (R2 174 000).

All models are similarly configured in refinement but the S63 is the most powerful and quickest (430kW/900Nm, 0-100 km/h in 4.4ssec), an extraordinary vehicle with its signed, hand-assembled engine manufactured at one of the world’s most celebrated motorsport tuning houses, AMG, in Affalterbach, Germany.

If saving the planet is uppermost in your mind then one of the Hybrid versions, standard or long-wheelbase, may well be your choice. The V6 BlueTEC turbodiesel grabbed my attention, mainly because of its potential frugality, huge torque (620Nm from 1600-2400rpm) and its seamlessly smooth engine output (190kW), driving through a 7G-Tronic Plus auto box.

While driving the car I kept coming back to the word ‘perfection’ found in everything touched, fiddled with or adjusted to suit in the sumptuous cabin: from the myriad seat adjustments to the mind-blowing entertainment/sound system, while adjusting the aircon to blow cold or colder, or warmer – intrigued in the knowledge that more than 100 electric motors are ready and in the car ready to configure your every whim.


It’s not possible to familiarise oneself with every advanced feature found in a car of this stature but perhaps that’s the rub: the three or so 2.5cm-thick manuals found in the glove compartment will surely take care of that while making a stimulating read over a couple of evenings – or maybe a week – sitting by the fireside smoking that Cuban cigar and sipping your French brandy….

Nevertheless, the prestigious S-Class does remain intuitive to drive. One can actually drive away from standstill with little hint of all the “intelligent stuff” going on around you to keep you safe on the road.  By way of example there are no conventional bulbs anywhere in the new S-Class range: the headlights now use 56 light-emitting diodes to illuminate the road, the tail-lights glow stylishly from their 36 diodes and there are more than 300 to take care of the interior lighting – somewhat reminiscent of a New York skyline at dusk.

Standard across the board are power-adjustable seats (climatised driver and front passenger), active park assist with Parktronic, 7G auto gearboxes, Thermotronic aircon, COMAND online (Bluetooth, etc), Pre-safe crash mitigation systems and a sun-protection package – and that’s just to give you some idea of the levels of perfection to be found in the latest S-Class range.


Naturally there’s a substantial options list available from the German marque. I’d even venture to say everyone will surely want to customise their wheels slightly in some way or other.

As an example, a panoramic sunroof costs R18 100; an AMG sports package (bodywork kit) will set you back R57 500; while an individual entertainment system in the rear costs R36 500… a must-have while doing The Times crossword or perusing the latest stocks and shares market prices!

S-Class prices: (including VAT, excluding CO2 emission tax)
S 350 BlueTEC (V6 190kW/620Nm) - R1 214 000
S 400 HYBRID (V6 225kW/370Nm) - R1 227 100
S 400 HYBRID (V6 225kW/370Nm) Long - R1 248 200
S 500 BlueEFFICIENCY (V8 335kW/700Nm) - R1 564 100
S 500 BlueEFFICIENCY (V8 335kW/700Nm) Long - R1 766 100
S 63 AMG (V8 430kW/900Nm) - R2 174 000

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