Mercedes-Benz: 2014 S 500 sedan

Mercedes-Benz: 2014 S 500 sedan

The luxury flagship of Mercedes-Benz has always introduced greater levels of comfort, safety and sophistication through each new generation, and the new S Class is no exception.

My first introduction to the S Class occurred when I was a spotty-faced teenager, my athletic coach Kevin Taylor owned a first-generation W116 series 280S sedan as his daily driver, and I was smitten by the build quality and design detail that this car offered.

Even though by todays standards it was relatively sparsely equipped, central locking, a factory stereo, electric steel sliding sunroof and power steering were about the few luxury items. It certainly didn’t have air conditioning or electric windows.

2014 S500 LH profileBut the 280S was still a very comfortable touring car, and once on the motorway it had a fair turn of speed from its six-cylinder engine and three-speed automatic transmission. Although not available at launch in 1972, the W116 series S-Class was one of the first production vehicles to offer a drivers airbag and then a side airbag, as well as anti-lock braking, and the long wheelbase 6.9-litre V8 models also offered hydro-pneumatic self levelling suspension.

2014 S500 right side profileSo, some thirty-years later as I slid behind the wheel of the new standard wheelbase S 500, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the dear old W116 series and how far the S Class has evolved since then.

Spec:

The new W222 series S-Class was launched to global markets in May 2013 and it offers every possible active and passive safety feature that is available 2014 S500 Interior lightson the market today.

Standard equipment includes a 360 degree camera, adaptive brake with hold function, hill start assist and a brake drying function in the wet, adaptive flashing LED brake lights, active blind spot assist, active bonnet, active lane keeping assist, attention assist, crosswind assist, BAS plus with cross traffic assist, and the Distronic Plus proximity control system with steer assist and stop and go pilot.

The new S-Class is also fitted with Pre-Safe Brake, Pre-Safe Impulse, and the Pre-Safe plus accident anticipatory protection system with pedestrian recognition, as well as MO extended run flat safety tyres with a tyre pressure 2014 S500 rear intloss warning system.

Keyless go with push button stop/start is also standard fare, and the S 500 is completely illuminated by LED lamps inside the cabin, as well as offering the exterior LED intelligent light system with adaptive high beam, the indicators, cornering lamps, daytime running lights, and tail lights are also LED powered, there is not a single analogue bulb in this car!

Optional equipment fitted to our test car included the front seat entertainment package ($2200), luxury rear seats ($2800) and electrically adjustable rear seats with memory function ($3425). The Burmester surround sound system offers 13 speakers, a 9 channel DSP amplifier, and produces a total output of 590 watts.

2014 S500 Burmester SpeakerRegardless of your musical taste, this has to be one of the best factory fitted automotive audio systems, had my eyes been closed, I could well imagine Johnny Cash was sitting in the back seat strumming his guitar and playing an acoustic rendition of Folsom Prison Blues.

Had he become bored with the musical abilities of the sound system, Johnny could also adjust his own individual rear seat, climate temperature control, and close the internal ceiling blind to protect him from light coming through the vast panoramic glass sunroof.

Power:

2014 S500 bootlidTo steal a line from Rolls-Royce who downplayed the power of their engines for many decades, the engine power and torque figure of the S 500 is adequate – actually its more than adequate.

Underneath that shapely bonnet is a 335 kilowatt direct-injection twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 engine that produces 700 Newton metres of torque, which is sent to the rear-wheels through a 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission will push the S500 from standstill to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz quotes a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.2L/100km. We got reasonably close, sitting in the 12 to 13L/100km range but most of our test period was spent in the urban environment.

But its the delivery thats just astonishing, its just so linear, smooth, and quiet. Almost too quiet, as you watch other vehicles trail in your wake

Inside:

As you would expect in a luxury sedan of this calibre, everything you look at and touch is of the highest quality, and there is very little plastic used apart from minor controls and switches, because lashings of leather, alloy and burr walnut wood trim are rightfully melded together to create a sumptuous and inviting cabin.

If it looks like leather, it is, if it looks like metal, it is, and if it looks like wood, it most certainly is!

2014 S500 front intThe luxury front seats are also equipped with luxury head restraints and are both ventilated and heated, so while madam may prefer a warm posterior, sir may have his cooled instead, and both can set their preferred climate temperatures thanks to the Thermotronic dual zone system

Even the two spoke wood and nappa leather trimmed steering wheel has decorative top stitching, 12 function keys, steering wheel shift paddles and a beautiful “Mercedes-Benz” embossed metal clasp.

The Comand infotainment system almost deserves a review on its own. For a start it has a 31cm diagonal screen offering a high resolution colour display.

Using the rotary controller to drive the Comand unit, the driver, or passenger 2014 S500 Clock in dashcan access all of the audio functions, climate control options, lumbar adjustment for the front seats, as well as the navigation system, digital television, owners manual, Bluetooth audio and telephony, WLAN hot spot, email and SMS functions, and so on and so forth.

If you want to store music, DVD video, even pictures of your loved ones, no problem! There are multiple USB slots, as well as a slot for a SDHC memory card, and theres also a bluetooth streaming function to boot.

You can also use Linguatronic voice control system button on the steering wheel to drive the audio, telephone, navigation, and music search.

Drive:

2014 S500 Steering wheel badge2014 S500 Lane controlsIt staggers me how Mercedes-Benz can engineer a large premium luxury car to perform and handle so well, but there is a great deal of technology as well as platform engineering, that has created an S Class which drives more the mid-size E Class.

The air-matic suspension has two settings, comfort and sport, which are completely self explanatory. One is for daily driving around the city, and the other for having a blast around a winding rural road.

One caveat though, even in Sport mode the air suspension can have a bit of a float-y feel to it, and those front seats, while extremely comfortable, are not of the variety that hug you in tight corners.

The other caveat is that those 20 inch alloy wheels shod with low profile run-flat tyres don’t like driving over manhole covers and other corrugations and will transmit some harshness into the cabin

The Benz S 500 is a cruiser and not a bruiser – you need to move up to the S 63 AMG if you want more sporting orientated machine with the new magic body control suspension system.

By setting the Distronic cruise control system on the S 500, you also engage the steer assist which is Mercedes-Benz’s semi autonomous steering system, which will guide the car around a corner if it thinks the driver isn’t applying enough pressure on the steering wheel.

Should you move too far left onto the hard shoulder or too far right onto the centre line, the car will issue a warning and steer you back on course. Its an eerie feeling discovering the car is somewhat more attuned to the immediate surroundings than the driver, but I can see such safety technology filtering down to mass market vehicles and preventing future accidents.

As you become more familiar with the S 500 by living with it day to day in urban traffic and on longer runs, it almost shrinks around you, and the 360 degree camera system also deserves a hymn of praise, it makes parking the car a breeze in tight spaces, and the camera will also help the driver to preserve the alloy wheels from kissing the curb-stones unnecessarily.

Verdict:

No other vehicle I’ve driven this year is as powerful, but as quiet as the S 500. On the motorway its just serenely quiet, even on our worst surfaced rural roads, the tyre noise is superbly muted.

It has every conceivable luxury item imaginable and its new safety features once again set the standard to which others will follow.

The new S Class continues to be the luxury car that meets the needs of property tycoons, IT company presidents, prime ministers, and potentates.

If you too, have the desire, and the wherewithal to purchase – do enjoy.

Price as tested: $248,425

Pros:

  • Too many superlatives to list but grace, space, pace almost covers it
  • Incredible technology and safety features

Cons:

  • Seats need more bolstering
  • Tyres don’t like being driven over manhole covers

 

Words:

Pictures: Robert Barry and Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific

 

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