So how do you set about becoming a byword for automotive excellence? Focusing on achieving acknowledged leadership in the fields of design, engineering, safety and performance is probably a good start. Cutting-edge technologies that very nearly – but not quite – drive the car for you could be a distinct advantage. Peerless luxury and refinement are the icing on the cake. And it can’t hurt to have a pedigree stretching back to the dawn of motoring as we know it.
If you’re Mercedes-Benz, well, you have all of the above. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the company doesn’t have too many dissenting voices when it proclaims its flagship S-Class the best car in the world.
Launched to local motoring media as 2013 drew to a close, the new S-Class is so packed with innovative systems that it would take an entire issue of PM to run through them all.
In brief, the new car is based on three engineering priorities: Intelligent Drive, Efficient Technology and Essence of Luxury. The luxury part of it came through quite nicely, thank you, as the media contingent was chauffeured to and from dinner. Personal video monitors, mood lighting, multi-adjustable seats (“hot stone” massage function, would you believe?) with pillow-soft head restraints… the rear seats are a good place to be.
But so is the driver’s seat. Bristling with driver aids that include the ability to “read” the road ahead and adjust the suspension accordingly on the fly, the S-Class makes driving both as safe as can be and superbly relaxing.
The third cornerstone of the car’s design, efficiency, is no better illustrated than by its drag coefficient of 0,24 and its doing away with conventional lightbulbs throughout the car in favour of LEDs.
|ENGINE||hybrid V6 3,5||V8 4,7||V6 diesel 3,0|
|ECONOMY (L/100 km)||6,3||8,6||5,5|
|PERFORMANCE (0-100)||6,8 s||4,8 s||6,8 s|
|PRICE||From R1,214 million|