This car has been the benchmark model for setting new standards in luxury. Such has been the charm of this elegant full-fledged saloon, that it has made other car manufacturers to look upon the S class to redefine the luxury automotive space. Over the years this model in particular has been the prince of luxury and has been the champion in delivering precise automotive engineering. Mind you, there are cars that are really good in different spheres, but none feels as special as the Merc. Keeping in track the recent technical up gradations, this Merc does have some clever bits of engineering like, active cruise control, as well as sensing and maintaining gaps to other cars, knows to slow you for roundabouts, corners and tolls using GPS. Along with the enhanced semi-
autonomous driving functions, there are changes to the powertrain, interior and exterior design as well. Despite only subtle exterior differences, the 2018 S-class represents a thorough refresh compared with the 2017 model. So what’s left to find out is whether, the millions of hours and euros the company spends on research and development has allowed Merc to come out with the best car in the world. The car is always expected to remain at the cutting edge of technological advances, which is under serious threat from the likes of the latest generation BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Tesla Model S.
On the outside then, this Merc appears as just another facelift. It gets a typical mid-life cycle refresh with a new grille, bumpers and lights. It gets a typical mid-life cycle refresh with a new grille, bumpers and lights. The feature that makes the S – class stand out is the new headlight cluster. The single daylight running light (DRL) LED strip on the previous S-class is replaced by a distinctive cluster of three LED strips, which Mercedes calls the ‘Triple Torch’ design. The grille gets subtle changes with new louvres and a high-gloss- black finish for the vertical strips. The lower section of the front bumper is all new and now gets larger air intakes for a sportier look, while the rear bumper has a chrome garnish that neatly links the twin exhausts. The tail-lamps have a brilliant crystal effect that genuinely stands out and offer a ‘coming home’ function where the lights fade from blue to white. Although the alloys do look better than before, it is a bit of a mismatch for a car of this size. In addition to the redesigned front and rear fascia, updated headlights and taillights, the fact that still remains is whether all the modi proves to be a better shot than the competition. The looks of the car are tweaked and that makes it look less flowing and a bit bigger and more upright in the face. At the rear you get new taillights and bumper treatment too.
There are no major changes to the interior, so what you get is a traditional design which isn’t as modern as the 7-series or as high-tech as the new A8. But, the S-class’ cabin still has a special old-world charm to it, with retro-looking circular vents, lots of chrome bits and wood finishes.
However, the infotainment system has been completely modernised. The two huge 12.3-inch displays with stunningly sharp and clear graphics have been integrated into a one-piece glass panel and offer a myriad of customisable display options which you will never tire of playing with. You also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (a first on the S-class) to interface with your smartphone. Your phone can be charged wirelessly in the front and the back. However, this only works with high-end phones which have wireless charging capability. The steering wheel, wrapped in Nappa leather, is all new and a bit too overloaded with buttons. All the ADAS functions, as well cruise control (there’s no stalk behind the wheel), have moved onto the wheel but are easy to operate via slick buttons and a touchpad. Mercedes has gone to town with the ambient lighting and you get 64 colours to play around with! The back seat remains the place to be in the S-class. The seats still offer unparalleled
comfort in this class; they are perfectly cushioned, they electrically recline and have a retractable footrest. You feel like you’re in business class in a jet. The S 350d features as standard: keyless entry and start, a panoramic sunroof, digital television tuner, power closing doors and bootlid, a Burmester 13-speaker sound system, front seat heating and ventilation, head-up display, 360-degree camera and 19-inch alloy wheels. Distinguishing the 560 models are special trims, AIR-BALANCE package, Nappa leather, anti-theft protection and heat and noise-insulating glass. The L version also gets luxury head restraints and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The facelifted S-class gets a brand-new diesel engine – a 2,987cc diesel in the S 350d – and a revised 2,996cc petrol in the S 450. The diesel remarkably meets BS-VI emission standards on BS-IV fuel. The big news is that, with this engine, Mercedes has, after over 20 years, ditched the V6 layout and gone back to an in-line configuration for six cylinders. In fact, the S 350d comes with a much bigger catalytic converter, a diesel particulate filter and a Selective Catalytic Converter (SCR) with an Adblue dosing tank. The engine then is absolutely brilliant and it surpasses the lofty standards set by the older OM646 3.0-litre diesel V6. The new engine produces a class-leading 286hp which is a good 28hp more than the previous motor. It’s mated to an all new nine-speed automatic gearbox that ditches a torque converter drive for a multi-clutch pack for better response. And responsive it truly is; there is hardly any turbo lag and the big S-class gathers pace in a measured but extremely brisk way. In fact, it’s shockingly quick for a diesel, and we didn’t need our timing gear to tell us that it was distinctly faster than the older car. But we just had to strap on our VBox to know exactly by how much. The dash to 100kph comes up in 6.8sec, which is over a second faster than the older car. It reaches 140kph in just 14.64sec, and leaves the previous S-class trailing behind by over 2sec. Gearshifts are seamless and the gearbox kicks down without any hesitation. The most useful feature, especially on long highway drives, is Mercedes’ Distronic system – a kind of adaptive cruise control that checks the distance to the car in front by slowing down or even stopping if necessary.
The steering didn’t assist much and it’s nowhere near as effective as the electronic nannies on the new Volvos. Other driver aids debuting on the S-class are active braking assist and active blind spot assist, which again are very useful. The gizmo rich S class is a tad overpriced keeping in mind that you do get all these features in a cheaper Volvo.
One of the most swanky S – class out here, and it comes with a lot of sophisticated instruments and gadgets. Although a chauffeur driven car, the driving capabilities and ergonomics surely are going to tempt you to mishandle the S class a bit. The all-new diesel engine which sets a new standard for performance, refinement and emissions. The most notable feature which is going to be difficult to beat is going to be the S-class’ traditional strengths like the high-quality cabin, pillowy ride, and soothing ambience. So, in all this is going to be the luxo limo you would expect to have on those business trips.