Daimler’s new Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan was unveiled to the world at a dramatic ceremony in Hamburg, Germany. We come away impressed with what is certainly a car that will rank among the technological spearheads of contemporary automotive development.
How very appropriate that the ceremonial fireworks, welcoming the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan, should be accompanied by nature’s own brilliant show of flashes of lightening!
The car deserved every bit of the thunderous illuminated welcome, with nature joining in with its own applause, as the new top-of-the-line model was driven across the tarmac, flanked by twenty current Mercedes-Benz models to the accompaniment of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. Dramatic, indeed!
We are here in Hamburg, along with around 750 international guests – at the delivery centre for the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft – for the world launch of Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The luxury saloon was flown in from the plant in Stuttgart on a new Airbus A300-600 DHL cargo plane – two machines, each at the pinnacle of its development.
Before the launch, we had been taken for a factory tour of Airbus A320 and A380 assembly plant. Just as the A380 is setting new benchmarks in air travel, the new S-Class is slated to rank among the technological spearheads of automotive development.
In a dazzling display, the S-Class is driven onto the stage with its first passenger, the global superstar, American R&B singer Alicia Keys, to be greeted by Dr.Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Alicia Keys emerges on stage to entertain us with some of her favourite numbers.
With its long bonnet, the flowing, domed roof-line and the gently slanting rear-end, the car has classic saloon proportions. The distinctly three-dimensional radiator grille is larger and upright. The size and shape have been fashioned in such a way that the S-Class appears prestigious, with the powerful roof-line enhancing its sporty coupé-style. The positively exaggerated surfaces and lines of the side walls too flow smoothly rearwards. The elegant slightly slanting form has obvious aerodynamic advantages.
The S-Class line-up includes petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrids, ranging from the 204hp 4-in-line engine of the S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid to the 455hp V8 of the S 500.
The specifications show trend-setting values of fuel-consumption and emissions that would have appeared utopian just a few years ago, even for a mid-size car. For example, the S 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is said to consume just 4.4 litres of diesel per 100kms. This will soon be followed by the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid, which will likely become the first S-Class to boast fuel consumption below the 4 litres level, thanks to additional aerodynamic optimisation. The performance of the car is something that I look forward to check during some future test-drive.
Looking within, the S-Class proves to be an embodiment of what a modern luxury saloon should be – an exclusive first-class mobile office, akin to a business jet, apart from being a luxurious centre of comfort. While the interiors are done up in high-grade materials, I am impressed with the innovative ‘Energizing’ massage function, based on the hot stone principle, and the executive rear seat, with its revolutionary fully-reclined position. Then, there is the active seat ventilation with innovative reversing fans and individually adjustable fragrancing.
Equally remarkable is the musical experience, featuring Mercedes-Benz’s front bass system and the new Burmester 3D surround sound system. All passengers can individually access the entertainment system from their seats – said to be another world first.
Riding comfort is assured, with the S-Class being the world’s first car able to detect bumps on the road ahead. Whenever the stereo camera of the ‘Road Surface Scan’ detects unevenness, the ‘Magic Body Control’ instantaneously sets up the suspension to deal with it.
Standards for automotive safety equipment rise to new levels, with a host of innovative and intelligently interlinked safety and assistance systems. Thanks to the 360-degree all-round vision of the stereo camera and multistage radar sensors of the ‘Intelligent Drive,’ the systems detect potential dangers, warn the driver and sometimes even intervene to correct the situation.
The new ‘Pre-Safe’ function can help prevent collisions with pedestrians and vehicles in front in city traffic, defuse hazards of traffic behind and enhance seat-belt protection.
Something that I look forward to trying out in future is the new ‘Distronic Plus’ with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot that sounds like driving on ‘auto-pilot’ to me. At speeds up to 60kph, the Stop&Go Pilot intelligently decides whether to use the vehicle in front or the road markings as a reference, enabling semi-autonomous following in traffic jams, even when there are no clear lane markings visible. Now, the system is able to brake at a rate of up to 5m/s² without the driver’s intervention.
Lighting technology in the new S-Class takes the distinction as the first in the world to completely dispense with conventional electric bulbs, making exclusive use of energy-saving LED technology, both inside and outside.
Two high-resolution 30.7cm (12.3in) TFT colour displays in 8:3 format form the new information centre in the S-Class. One displays the functions of the classical instrument cluster, while the other controls the infotainment and comfort functions.
The uniqueness and leadership aspirations of the new S-Class are expressed at this world premiere, not just through the vehicle itself, but also by a varied range of sensory experiences – the fireworks, the spectacular ceremonial drive to the stage, the wonderful music and the ambience. And, now the crowning touch to the evening is a ‘flying menu’ for dinner.
Mercedes-Benz throws open a unique ‘Ten Star Restaurant’ – gourmet creations are served at live cooking stations by Michelin-starred Chefs Juan Amador from Mannheim, Douce Steiner from Sulzburg, Tim Raue from Berlin, Matthias Schmidt from Frankfurt and Wahabi Nouri from Hamburg. Daimler has pulled all stops to make it an unforgettable evening for the international gathering.
Most certainly, the Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan, described as the ‘New Queen of the Road,’ deserves the celebrations that its creators have so beautifully orchestrated. Long may the Queen rule!