New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

S-Class goes Blue to become green

2010-12-08 11:17

Lance Branquinho

BLUE IS GREEN: Drawing heavily on the company’s experience in heavy duty vehicles, the BLUETECH badge denotes the lowest possible emissions signature for diesel power.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Model S 350 BlueTEC
Engine 3l V6 turbodiesel
Power 190kW @ 3 800r/min
Torque 620Nm @ 1 800r/min
Transmission Seven-speed auto
Zero To Hundred 7.1 sec
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Tank 94l
Fuel Consumption 6.8l/100km (claimed)
Weight 1 955kg
Boot Size 560l
Tyres 255/45 R18
Front Suspension Four-link AirMatic
Rear Suspension Multi-link AirMatic
Service Intervals 20 000km
Warranty 2 year/unlimited km
Price R1 035 000
Rivals Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS
One of the issues with being a plutocrat is the incommensurable state of affairs that exists between what you desire in a car and what you would like to do for the environment.

When you're wealthy, limousine luxury motoring is one of those perks you simply cannot do without. Unfortunately, most premium luxury cars are quite heavy and hardly place a low emissions burden on the environment.

A bit of a conundrum then: you really want the air-suspension, gentleman’s-club cabin comfort and serene acoustic insulation of a limousine, but, the severe CO2 footprint is rather less desirable. Mercedes-Benz, purveyor of the seminal luxury car, has a solution - the S350 BlueTEC that, it says, brings to the local luxury market an array of emissions-reducing technologies.


Debuting Mercedes-Benz’s advanced clean-diesel engine technology locally, this new S-Class draws an additional 35kW and 80Nm from the three-litre V6 turbodiesel it shares with its S350 processor.

The improved engine output statistics are thanks primarily to a redesigned variable-vane turbocharger and more efficient charge-air regulating intercooler. With new peak outputs of 190kW and 620Nm, the S350 BlueTEC is a half-second quicker for the 0-100km/h sprint.

Beyond the welcome increase in performance, the fancy new moniker lowers emissions and improves efficiency. Emissions are from 197 to 177g/km of CO2 and Mercedes claims combined fuel consumption is now only 6.8 litres/100km, a remarkable figure for a two-ton car (when fuelled).

The mechanical improvements are not this S350’s party piece, though. Open the boot, remove the spare wheel and you’ll notice a nozzle opening. Strange? Indeed, but this is where Mercedes-Benz service technicians will drain a solution of aqueous urea (branded AdBlue, but essentially artificial mammal urine) into your S-Class at each 20 000km service to ensure it runs with less environmental impact than a C180 Kompressor BlueEFFICIENCY.

The 25-litre aqueous urea solution drips directly into the exhaust system to release ammonia which converts nearly 80% of the turbodiesel engine’s toxic nitrogen oxide waste gas into harmless nitrogen and water.

The car, geared to run a litre of the urea solution every 1000km, should never run out of the exhaust gas treatment fluid between service intervals, even when generously over-running service appointments. However the S350’s computer does start a pedantic countdown when down to 1600km-worth of aqueous urea reserve.

BOTTLED-UP: By adding 25 litres of AdBlue solution every 20 000km, Mercedes-Benz enables its S350 to undercut BMW’s 730d by one gram of CO2/km…

Top-ups are covered by the maintenance plan but, for who may keep their S350 BlueTEC way past its six-year MobiloDrive contract date, a 1.89-litre bottle of AdBlue solution retails for around R90.


What else is new on the S350 BlueTEC? Well, the package of driver assistance systems has been upgraded.

A three-metre radius radar now powers the blind-spot system, lane departure warning now uses rear-axle braking to correct wandering steering and the night-view camera gains bracketed pedestrian detection within the digital field of view. The night-view assist system is a veritable lifesaver on unlit rural roads at night, when pedestrians and animals haphazardly wander into the road

The S350 BlueTEC’s satnav also has an eco-route functionality which does pretty much what it says – plans your routes to minimise stop-start driving or long climbs (obviously within reason to distance and time considerations), thereby extracting maximum efficiency from a journey.

Mercedes-Benz afforded us a short opportunity to test the S350’s low-emissions credibility on a round trip from Pretoria to the Magaliesberg.

Suffice to say all the traditional S-Class virtues are still very much in place.

Order your S350 BlueTEC with the factory-standard 255/45/18 spec tyres (instead of inching-up for image appeal) and the ride quality is simply astounding. It really does glide instead of ride.

The cabin’s ergonomics are still intuitive instead of fussy (a weakness of some premium competitors) and comfort levels beyond reproach. An unbranded (it does not even have a three-pointed star background) centre-fascia analogue clock remains essentially the only irksome feature of the S-Class cabin design.

CLASS ACT: Elegantly styled, impeccably engineered and effortless to drive, Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class still remains the premium luxury car standard.

With Mercedes-Benz bellows geared air-suspension smoothing out the journey, I set about running the S350’s more powerful V6 turbodiesel with enthusiasm. The compression-ignition V6 is superbly sound-insulated and accelerates past coasting traffic around the highway limit with disdainful ease.

Whereas considering a turbodiesel limousine would once have been unconscionable for members of the Rand Club, in the contemporary market you would have to be extremely silly not to make use of its incredible range potential.

I averaged 8.5 litres/100km, which should mean quite an accurate real-world consumption figure.

Compute the tank-capacity multiplication equation and that equates to a range of 1100km; effectively negating those niggling fuel-stops, which are the bane of petrol powered limousines and rather an inconvenience when you need to rush to the coast (or an isolated rural location) to take care of a business matter personally.

On our way back to base after lunch I chose to extend the seat base and have a nap as my driving partner took us home. Able to enact a pseudo-lazyboy posture, and boasting the most comfortable head restraints in all of automobiledom, it was the most serene journey I have had in a car in quite some time.

So, if you're a financially (very) independent individual who simply has to be driven in limousine comfort yet have a few environmentally aware family members to appease, the new S350 BleuTEC is really very much a golden mean solution. Because sometimes, just sometimes, plutocrats care about the environment too.


R1 035 000 (CO2 tax included)

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