Mercedes-Benz S400L: Riding like a king

The streets whizz past you. The torrential rain splatters onto your window but your car just wouldn’t let you have much of the noise. The heavily modified Japanese sedan pulls up next to you with its Remus exhaust growling, but you’re oblivious to all these as you lean back in comfort reading the morning papers.

Having established itself as the luxury benchmark setter in the continental realm for decades, this car now features a whole myriad of aesthetic differences, technological wonders, as well as a whole new level of comfort and luxury.

This, is the new Mercedes-Benz W222 S-Class.

Exterior

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When the W222 S-Class was first launched, we were amazed at how Mercedes managed to re-design its entire body to reflect a more symmetrical yet stylish outlook. The new S-Class boasts  running contour lines from the headlamps all the way to the boot, enhancing its visual appeal yet at the same time, aids in aerodynamical feasibility.

Up front, you get to enjoy Mercedes-Benz’s new LED technology, with its headlamp assembly housing over 110 LED bulbs. The German marque’s eyebrow-designed signature daytime running lights now presents a more aggressive and prominent look to the S-Class, as compared to the two horizontal beams found on its W221 predecessor.

At the rear, the tail-lamp assembly now features more than 70 LED bulbs, and with two significant ring-shaped rear city lamps, you’d be guaranteed visibility at night.

Apart from enhancing its aesthetics and dumping in loads of new technology, Mercedes-Benz has also “enlarged” the car. The new S-Class now measures 5,246 mm across in length, as compared to the shorter 5,096 mm found on the W221. It also sits 10 mm wider than the W221, although that wouldn’t make too much of a difference since it still can’t fit into your one standard-sized HDB parking lot.

Interior

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But the exterior ain’t all the fancy stuff that you get from the W222. The interior now presents a more luxurious, comfortable, and welcoming feeling compared to the traditional boards and awkward humps of the W221.

Mercedes’ new two-spoke steering offers you the feeling of piloting a futuristic machine, the way we viewed spacecrafts in sci-fi movies. To add on to the level of technology, you now get two high-resolution 12.3 inch TFT infotainment display – one in replacement of the traditional instrument cluster, and one for your COMAND Online system.

Of course, this is complimented with Mercedes’ piano black rotary dial touchpad in the middle of the centre console, flanked by a barrage of option buttons ranging from drive mood to suspension, as well as your volume control.

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Needless to say, we focused more on the rear of the S-Class, the rightful place befitting of any businessman or entrepreneur whom would buy this limousine. Mercedes offers you colour-shade matching pillows strapped to the headrests, with a full variety of seat positioning options for your comfort.

We recall when we first started out in this business, the S-Class and 7-Series demo cars proved to be a good place for us to test our ability to do a sit-and-reach exercise at the rear seat. This W222 is no different, thanks to the increased legroom. Fit a 1.8 metre tall adult at the front passenger seat and we still got ample leg and knee room at the rear to move around and try unglamorous poses.

Mention technology and Mercedes doesn’t forget the importance of ambient lighting. With over 300 LEDs implanted into the car’s interior, you now have an option of selecting six different colour tones to suit your different moods, ranging from your warm orange if you’re feeling luxurious, to the icy blue if your mood tapers downwards and it’s raining heavily outside.

Being Mercedes’ flagship vehicle, the S-Class offers you a whole lot of technology, ranging from two different sunroofs (one for the driver and one for the rear passengers), keyless entry and start/stop, COMAND navigation, Bluetooth telephony system, seat warmers (for God knows what reason in tropical Singapore), and many more.

Sound buffs would also be pleased to note the presence of the Burmester sound system, a standard feature on all S-Class in Singapore. With 13 surround sound speakers coupled with Dolby Digital 5.1 technology, we felt right smack in the centre of a Beethoven symphony concert even though we are no audio geeks.

The Drive

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So after all the wows and oohs in the interior, the main question comes to mind: how does it perform? While we knew that cars like the S-Class and 7 Series require you to be chauffeured in for maximum experience, we decided to give it a go behind the wheel and bring the car around for a day or two.

Riding on 19” shoes didn’t feel the least uncomfortable, thanks to Mercedes’ AIRMATIC suspension system as it glided through the roughest of roads (read: roads like Upper Bukit Timah Road). Road noise is almost impossible to detect, and like we said earlier, we were completely oblivious to the Evolution X that pulled up next to us at the lights.

Housing a 2,996 cc V6 plant under its hood, our test S400L gave us the pleasure of 328 horses as well as 480 Nm of torque. While we were initially concerned at how these figures could propel a 1.93 tonne car from the lights, we were pleased when we clocked a satisfying 7.0 seconds for our century sprint, 0.6 sec slower than on factory records.

But tear yourself away from the performance figures and you’ll realise the S-Class is probably the most comfortable you’ll have in this class. There’s considerable weight to the steering, unlike some other brands which allowed you to pilot a flagship vehicle with one finger’s worth of strength. We also loved the different driving modes available, allowing you to choose Economy when you’re ferrying someone in comfort, and Sport when you just want to have that bit of adrenaline rush.

Mercedes’ rear-wheel drive system also meant that the S400L was perfect in handling tighter corners. You would expect slight body roll when you’re dealing with a 5.3 metre long car, but these rolls proved nothing too much to cause discomfort for both the driver and the rear passenger.

The German marque promised a 8.1 litre / 100 kilometre figure in terms of fuel efficiency – and although our three day test churned out a 9.7 figure, we thought that it was pretty impressive for a car this size and weight. But then again, would the average businessman or entrepreneur nag about fuel consumption?

Conclusion

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The W222 has been on the market for almost a year and a half, and admittedly we were a little late in reviewing this wonder. But that aside, it was really an eye-opener for us to experience the vast improvements that were heaped into Mercedes’ flagship vehicle.

In short, the W222 S-Class would probably have sent its competitors a long way back. Technology and comfort may be of importance when it comes to a luxury sedan like this, but at the end of the day, the level of prestige exuded by this three-pointed star far surpasses what its competitors could offer at present moment.

This, would truly allow you to ride like a king on the roads.

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