The new flagship model of Benz, S-Class, has carried on the tradition here in spearheading the latest technology and gizmos of the Mercedes family by offering it first to the S class owners. Standard equipment is comprehensive while some of the options are cutting edge. These include radar-operated cruise control that automatically brakes the car to a standstill and then re-accelerates back up to a safe distance from the car in front in stop-start traffic, as well as infrared headlights that massively boost night-time visibility.
The new S-Class is wider and taller than its predecessor. The rear passenger space is more than necessary by any measures. Sitting at the driverís seat you can visibly notice plenty of room up-front, as well as finely adjustable seats. Many commonly used systems such as the stereo, ventilation and GPS can be accessed through a single rotary dial and viewed on a LCD screen. This set-up is called Command, and is similar to BMW's iDrive and Audi's MMI. However, itís more distracting than these rival systems.
The interior build quality have the hallmark and solid quality reminiscent of an age when cars where hand-built by detail obsessed craftsmen. The way the cabin fitted so precisely together and the glowing finish of panels explains why Mercedes is still setting the benchmark in the automobile industry after so many decades.
The S-Class rides on air suspension, featuring adaptive damping that monitors the road surface and adjusts the suspension settings accordingly. Body movements are tightly controlled, the steering provides plenty of feel and accuracy and the brakes are strong. A little bit of wind noise to my disbelief finds its way into the S-Classís cabin when youíre cruising on the expressway, but otherwise itís expectantly quiet. Engine noise is all-but absent, while road noise never rises above a muted rumble, no matter how fast you go.
The only thing I can fault about this car is the hefty price tag that comes with it. The monstrous fuel bill will put you off too but I reckon that will be the least of your concerns if you are looking the direction of a Benz.
I thought it would only be appropriate that I post my thoughts about the new S-Class after seeing it in real life today.
Today Dad was particularly free and particularly interested to view cars; hence I scheduled some programme for today, which, other than the test drive of the W221, also included viewing the Passat.
We droved into the showroom's carpark. Ever since the launch of the S-Class on Wednesday, the anticipation and interest for this car has grown ever since with the numerous advertisements in both print and media. About 1000 people attended the launch event at Ritz-Carlton, quite a sum considering how small a market Singapore is. This time it was no different; a large number of people crowded around the 3 W221s they had on show at the floor; one black, a silver and a grey one. We stepped into every model, but everyone of them had the same specifications anyway. They were S350s, and standard equipment excluded PASSION Leather, DISTRONIC, wood/leather steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, Navigation, Night View Assist, Bi-Xenon headlamps and ARTICO upholstery, which was frankly very pathetic. To make an impression on us though they equipped the show cars quite well; but every good feature they pointed out were options on the list. Mind you this car is selling at a premium over the 7 Series, and the Phaeton can be had for much less.
I'd say the exterior was really good. Pictures don't do this car justice because in real life it looked really modern and pleasing. Without the AMG package, of course. Despite that it will never be as controversial or as eye-ball catching as the 7 Series. The wheel-arches almost disappear into the bodywork because I didn't notice it. I have a particular liking for the rear design of the car.
The interior quality is a notch above the W220. I was initially very impressed but having learnt that stitched leather and such are really expensive options I didn't really appreciate it anymore. The dashboard was very clean and simple to use. Comand wasn't used until later in the test drive. We didn't need to use it except for radio. Build quality is now comparable with its rivals; sad to say a back-to-back comparison with a Phaeton this car just lacks something in the interior. It didn't feel very luxurious and the blinds for the rear mirrors had problems opening and closing. It got stuck halfway. Rear passenger air-conditioning was not standard, by that I mean individual settings for the temperature and such. No massage functions, no cooling functions, both standards on the Phaeton. But I do enjoy the gauges, they look fantastic. Although the buttons are supposedly metal, they didn't really feel high quality. The doors close with a clunk but aren't as heavy as those in a Phaeton.
Dad had problems controlling the gearshift and stuff. But he says just time is needed and everything will fall into place easily. Now the test drive.
Sound insulation wasn't very impressive. I don't know if it was the tires or the hot summer weather, but it didn't meet my expectations. The standard remains to be the LS430 for interior noise.
The engine sounded kind of rough when pushed, and although this S-Class is relatively quick, you wouldn't feel very urgent or having a desire to drive this car hard. This car is meant to be driven in style and in the best way to relax as possible. And that the S-Class does best. The seats are fantastically comfortable, and the legroom extremely generous. The car irons out any bumps on the road and feels like it's really gliding. Sitting in it has been one very good ride. Dad says in driving dynamics it beats the Phaeton anyday, but remember that too small an engine has been fitted into our Phaeton, and on top of that it&#8217;s AWD as compared to the S-Class's RWD configuration.
The gear changing wasn't noticeable. The engine note however was quite rough and obvious. It didn't feel powerful enough.
Overall after stepping out of the showroom I'm unimpressed and I stand by my choice that the A8/Phaeton from VAG remains the best in my books. The W221 however is a very big step ahead from the W220. I know this will appeal to many people and it is a fantastic car, but put the badge and hype aside, I don't feel much for this car.
Phaeton 3.2: ~USD147,239