Mercedes Benz S Class, they are everywhere. And there is a very simple reason why they exist in abundance and get sold by the dozens. It is the name that is used as a synonym for the best things like I once used the phrase 'S Class of Movie Theatres' for PVR's Director's Cut Cinema. It had big lounging sofas, luxurious lighting and a butler to serve you gourmet food with choicest of spirits on demand. It is an expression of the highest quality lifestyle, and it has been so for the past three decades. The Mercedes S Class might not have been a poster car for many young entrepreneurs but at the back of their mind, that is what they were aiming at since inception. The thought of being chauffeured around lounging in the back seat with the three-pointed star moniker standing tall on the bonnet turning heads and making the neighbours envy of you. We all wanted to be there.
So it has been many years since the S Class has been tagged as the best car in the world and it is now its third generation, i.e. W222 has got a facelift and it comes with a lot of new updates including that BS6 compliant diesel engine that is about to save the animals from going extinct.
The S Class is recognizable from a mile away, the distinct body shape and that huge chrome grille gives an imposing impression, the facelift, however, gets more bling! A thicker chrome lining around the grille, a huge air dam with more chrome embellishments and those diamond jewellery like headlamps which have a zillion elements and looks gorgeous. I appreciate the way you can now easily differentiate between the C, E and the S class in one's rearview mirror by the number for LED Day time running lamps inside the headlamp cluster. The S Class has three and they glow blue before they turn white when turned on. Brilliant!
The side profile, however, is unchanged. But that doesn't mean it looks bad, the S Class looks grand and preposterous. You now get 18 inch alloy wheels as standard on the S 350d which look a bit smaller in comparison to the proportions of the car but they come with thicker tyre profile which helps in the ride quality hugely, considering the Indian roads have more potholes than on the moon, it is a boon to have these as a standard fitment. I cannot complain. Also, the chrome and metal inserts around the body panel look magnificent with this beautiful 'Ruby Black' shade. Under the sunlight, the body casts an impression of the precious stone, it looks ostentatious.
To the rear of the facelifted S Class, there is less which has changed, chrome embellishments are in abundance but what strikes me the most is the subtle addition of actual diamond-like crystals to rear tail lamps assembly. It looks like Designers at Mercedes Benz scooped a jackpot at the jewellery shops and installed all the precious stones inside the stop lamps. They look exquisite. I do not think any other manufacturer would have done anything like this before, as the rear of the car of this calibre is what you see the most and one cannot get their eyes away from them at all.
This is the cabin which is the most utopian amongst all luxury cars in the world. The moment you step inside you are welcomed by the beautifully architectured dashboard with big instruments and infotainment screens sitting in your face. The leather, the wood, millimetre perfect stitching on the leather-wrapped surfaces, the quilting on the seats is phenomenal. Even before starting the car's engine the S Class is a complete event. Everywhere you touch it exudes high-quality materials and surfaces. The Command system is pretty intuitive to use when you are behind the wheel, in the facelift version you now get touchpads on the steering to scroll through the menus on the Infotainments screen without putting your hands off the wheel. It now has bigger fonts and a much higher resolution display for the ease of viewing. The Navigation system which comes inbuilt works flawlessly and it also has speed warnings on almost every road that you drive on which pop up on the instrument's screen to protect you from overspeeding bills.
The front seats are plush and large and can swallow a human of any size. I made my 6 ft 4 inch, 133 kg cousin sit in the front seat and he was not complaining at all. It gets 14-way adjustments, heating function for those ultra-cold days in the northern part of the country. But the main concert area is the rear seat. It is the most dramatic place to be inside the S Class.
The seats in rear (read: throne ) of the S Class are the best in the business, and there is a reason why. The cushioning is top-grade to start with, the seats use latex foam inside which are known to give the best support for very long durations, the surface area of the lower and back support of the seat on which the body rests is expansive, probably best amongst all luxury cars in the market. I have spent hours in the back seat being chauffeured around the city and outside of it, the car wafted through some wonderfully smooth highways and some excessively broken roads and I did not break a sweat. I was enjoying watching my favourite NETFLIX shows mirroring my iPad's screen on the 10.2 inch rear entertainment screen which comes bundled with individual remote controls and noise cancellation headphones as standard. It is a private jet like experience in the rear seat situation, you cannot deny the fact that Rolls Royce and Bentleys make more exquisite cars than Mercedes Benz but the level of comfort and relaxation features the S Class has is unmatched. No wonder top executives are preferring S Class and Maybach cars over the formers brands.
If you think the S Class is not a car that you would wake up at 4 am to take on a long drive then you are terrible wrong. Yes, the size of the car is intimidating and the proportions of the vehicle suggest that is best being wafted around than to push it to its limits, but that is not the case at all. The codename OM 656 Inline-6 turbocharged diesel engine produces 282 bhp and 600 Nm of torque, these figures are enough to pull this planet of luxury and well being from zero to a 100 kmph in 5.8 seconds with 33 psi pressure in the tyres and favourable weather. It genuinely impresses the way it pulls away as the air suspension setup prevents the nose of the car to draft up too much so you don't spill your glass of champagne while you enjoy the world go by during that launch control. The S Class besides being the king of the straight line acceleration impresses on the cornering front as well, in sports mode the suspension helps in controlling the roll and pitch and helps grip the car more effortlessly at high speed turns. This grip situation is also amplified by the standard Michelin PS4s installed in our car and helps to provide grip to the max. It does feel alarming to play around with such a heavy car but it handles its demeanour exceptionally well.
It is at its best when you are wafting in it. The cabin is insulated like a nuclear bunker, not a streak of noise can you hear inside even when you are doing speeds to attract a jail term, the suspension in the comfort settings make sure that your BPM is well below a normal level. You feel absolutely relaxed doing hundreds of kilometres. I did a day's trip to Lucknow for an event and by late night I was back home, that is 1200 kilometres of driving within 24 hours, and I am not exaggerating but I felt fresh as a daisy and could have easily driven up for a weekend in Narkanda in the Himalayas to pluck some fresh apples of the season, or perhaps have a cup of tea with the royalty of Jaipur. If only we were friends. The 'Executive Seating Package' adds ottoman style sofas to the rear so you can sleep with absolute ease on these long eventful road trips between you points of interests. There are air fragrances built inside the car's airconditioning system to hit your senses as per your mood, it is an extremely over-done feature in a car but it works wonders.
I also love the way the Burmester surround sound stereo works inside the cabin, it is anything but standard, to be honest. The high and low notes of the most mastered songs in the world, sound like I am sitting in an Auditorium than inside a car. The best stereo in my opinion still remains the ones from Bowers and Wilkins but this comes really very close to it. You need a 7.1 channel source to enjoy the maximum potential of this system.
I feel honoured to be living with this car to start off with, it is a piece of engineering marvel which will be written down in history as the best the world has ever seen. Every piece of technology and refinement of the S Class is taken as a benchmark for other brands to follow and it has been the case for the last 2 decades and I have thoroughly understood why. The S Class has a league of its own, it competes with cars that are twice or thrice its price but out-does them all in terms of its level of engineering. It is the epitome of luxury and over-engineered details and nothing comes close to the extravagance this car has. It is the best and shall remain one for decades to come for the top executives and the people who desire to stand apart from the crowd. The Paramount of Automotive Excellence!
Photos : Aryan Juneja