Elegant with a touch of aggression, the big S-Class Mercedes looks superb

Elegant with a touch of aggression, the big S-Class Mercedes looks superb

With a display of large scale theatre of the kind only Germany can produce we have just witnessed the global unveiling of the all new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Picture this: a giant Airbus A380 passenger jet is in the background, a German ‘Stig’ in an SLS Gullwing is doing doughnuts on a soaking wet tarmac, a procession of all current model Mercs lines up to make a guard of honour. At the finale two all-new Mercedes S-Class saloons drive past their lesser brethren and onto the stage in front of an audience of 500+ senior motoring journalists from around the world.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse (W 222) 2013I’ve experienced some major automotive reveals over the past 30 years, but nothing on the scale of this event produced by Mercedes to reveal its most prestigious model.
To our eyes the styling of the first new S-Class since 2005 is just right. Elegant with a touch of aggression, the big Mercedes looks superb on the outside and positively luxurious inside its large four-seat cabin. High quality materials are used throughout and the carefully contrasting colours work nicely.

But it’s far from being all about looks. For many years the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been used to introduce new technology to the automotive world. In particular, safety technology that eventually filters down till it reaches the lowest end of the car market resulting in saving countless lives worldwide.

To try to avoid crashes, the S-Class monitors 360 degrees around itself and alerts the driver to possible dangers. If the driver ignores the alerts or doesn’t take sufficient action the car will take control and brake and/or steer its way clear. If that’s not enough it will do everything it can to mitigate the collision forces.

Safety belts in the rear seats of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class have inbuilt airbags that expand the width and depth of the belt during a crash to not only provide better protection, but also to minimise ‘belt bruising’ on your body. The airbag safety belts aren’t required in the front seats as the occupants are protected by the conventional front ‘bags.

Mercedes points out that its semi-autonomous car should not be regarded as an excuse for driver inattention, saying the responsibility must always remain with the driver.

Intelligent headlights automatically give you as much light as possible in exactly the right spots. Using lights that not only vary in intensity, but also move from side to side as well as up and down spreads the light widely and lets you see far more than standard lights. Just as importantly the Mercedes’ lights do this without dazzling other drivers.

The new S-Class looks for roadside dangers by way of cameras and radar and flashes extra light on them. For example, the car will ‘see’ pedestrians and larger animals. This not only helps the driver see the potential dangers, but also alerts the person on foot to the car’s presence.

Taillights and brake lights vary in intensity according to ambient light. Showing maximum light when the car is in bright areas, such as cities, but less when it is surrounded by darkness.

Still on the subject of lights, the big Mercedes has a grand total of zero light globes. Rather it uses hundreds of LED lights which use tiny amounts of energy when compared with conventional globes. This contributes to lower fuel consumption as there’s no need for a large alternator producing lots of electricity. Every little bit helps in slowing climate change.

New S-Class Mercedes is expected in Australia late in the third quarter of this year, though the dates and final specifications are yet to be finalised. It’s arguably the best car in the world today and it doesn’t surprise us to learn that a queue is already starting to form to have one from the first shipment.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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