Ask any Mercedes enthusiast, and they’ll tell you that the company’s S-Class is the car to beat in the luxury class. It’s so far ahead of everything else, that it usually takes other car makers an entire generation of cars to catch up.
And despite Audi recently wowing us with its new, super-luxurious and near-autonomous Audi A8, Mercedes’ new S-Class might actually be even more advanced, albeit in a slightly more subtle way.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Mercedes’ top-of-the-line sedan does not drive itself. You can’t watch a movie on your phone while the car drives you around (to be fair, only the A8 can do that, and only in some very specific situations). But it does a lot to subtly alter your driving experience for the better.
I do mean a lot: To accompany the S-Class’ announcement, Mercedes published 18 press releases, each focusing on another aspect of the car.
Take, for instance, the new Active Distance Control DISTRONIC, Active Steering Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, and Active Lane Changing Assisttechnologies. On the surface, they’re similar to what you get in many other luxury cars the car can adjust its speed according to the speed of a vehicle in front, change lanes as soon as you turn the lane changing indicator on, recognize signs on the road and slow down accordingly or stop the car if it detects you’ve fallen asleep.
But the new Mercedes S-Class will also read the map ahead with its GPS and slow the car if it sees a dangerous curve ahead, even if you can’t visually see it yet. It will also slow down when you want to exit the highway (if you’re in the correct lane), provided your designated route requires it.
Now combine this with the numerous comfort functions, such as scanning for road bumps and compensating for them, even at speeds up to 112 mph. Or dynamically adjusting the suspension on curvy roads, with the car “leaning” into curves like a motorcyclist does, meaning you feel the curves a lot less.
The keyword here is “comfort,” and there’s plenty of it on the inside, too. The car comes with six wellness programs “Freshness,” “Vitality,” “Joy,” and so on which play music harmonized with ambience lighting, seat massage and air conditioning. These work on all seats, though that bit depends on the level of equipment you choose.
In the front, you’ll be informed and entertained by two 12.3-inch high-res displays and near-complete control of everything on the steering wheel. Rear passengers get 10.2-inch displays and the Burmester “High-End 3D Surround” hi-fi system with a 1520-watt output. The infotainment system can be controlled with voice commands or by connecting your smartphone to it. And you can call a personal concierge to make a restaurant reservation or to help you navigate to the opera house.
On the outside, the 2018 S-Class is, well, S-Classy, with no huge differences compared to the previous iteration of the car. The most noticeable differences are the more intricate front grille and the new “multibeam” LED headlights. In this class of cars, subtlety is welcome; I doubt many will complain about the car’s looks.
If all of this is not enough for you, and you last thought about a paycheck a decade ago, you can opt for the Maybach trim, which is a little longer and a little nicer on the outside, and a lot nicer on the inside, especially for rear passengers (which is where owners of this car will typically be sitting). Think tons of foot room, seats adjustable in every possible and conceivable way, electric roller sunblinds, woody details and (optional) silver-plated, handcrafted champagne flutes. (That means glasses; I’m poor so I had to look it up.)
The 2018 Mercedes S-Class starts with the S 450 trim with an electrified six cylinder engine that develops 367 hp and the S 500 which has a 435 hp output. You can also get the S 560, which comes with a 469 hp, V8 engine or the S 600 that has a 530 hp output, and on the very top of the line there’s the Maybach S 650, with a 630 hp, V12 engine. Those that prefer diesels can opt for the S 350 d 4MATIC or the S 400 d 4MATIC which develop 286 hp and 340 hp, respectively.
The new Mercedes S-Class will come to the U.S. later this year. Pricing has not been announced.
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