Boasting a rich history of 45 years, the S-Class remains a preferred ride for those who’ve made it in life. Our first point of contact with it began in the S 560 4MATIC, on a journey that saw us setting out across Switzerland and Germany. With great attention paid to every detail, including sumptuous pillows for the back-seat passengers, we were ready to discover more about our host country.
With the prospect of driving on the unlimited-speed autobahn on the German side, the 50-80km/h we were forced to observe in Switzerland didn’t put a damper on our drive. In fact, the S-Class isn’t really the kind of car in which to set speed records: it’s somehow too refined and regal.
Besides, there was plenty to see on the country roads that made a slower drive favourable, from picturesque villages containing neat, chalet-type homes to rows of vineyards, manicured cornfields, numerous lakes and gushing rivers.
Even when we were finally driving on the autobahn, we’d developed a liking for a cruising speed so that we could enjoy the car’s luxurious interior, which could easily double as a plush mobile office for passengers.
Much of this can be attributed to Energising Comfort Control, one of the new packages that ensures overall comfort by grouping together sensory features such as ambient lighting, fragrance, climate control and a massage function that kept us relaxed throughout the three-hour drive to Airport Neuhausen in Germany. There, we were given an opportunity to fully explore the new technology found in the S-Class.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot to expect from a vehicle that has more than 6 500 revamped components and 1 600 new parts. The airport environment enabled us to put some of these to the test and discover just how close this new Merc is to conquering autonomous driving by means of technology that’s been revealed for the first time in the S-Class.
We began with the improved self-parking feature, which uses the multitude of cameras on the vehicle to identify an open parking spot, calculate whether the wide S-Class will fit and then manoeouvre it into the space – with minimal effort from you, the driver.
But it was the Intelligent Drive system that impressed us most on national roads near the airport. Utilising a combination of camera and map tech with navigation data, the car changes lanes, avoids obstacles, adjusts speed and maintains distances, while the driver sits back and relaxes.
For dangerous situations, the Active Emergency Stop Assist is another intelligent functionality that save lives. When the vehicle detects that the driver’s no longer reacting, this feature takes over and applies brakes to bring the car to a standstill. It then immediately activates an emergency call and unlocks the car doors to allow emergency workers access, if needed. With comfort, intelligence and performance like this, it’s a no-brainer that the S-Class is the first choice of statesmen and other leaders.
MERCEDES-BENZ S 560 4MATIC (LONG-WHEELBASE)
0-100km/h: 4,6 seconds
Maximum speed: 250km/h
CO2 emissions: 200g/km