Although the Porsche tagline “There is no Substitute” certainly fits its fleet of vehicles, there is nothing like the new Mercedes S-Class for a full-sized luxury car experience. In the large luxury sedan game, there is no substitute for the S Class. There are other great competitors from BMW and Audi, but the new S-Class takes the cake when it comes to luxury and technology.
It Must Be Nice To Be Rich
When you are about to hop into a new S-Class, the first thing you notice is the seamless door handles that gracefully pop out of their homes in the door. Then you come into the beautiful interior with some of the nicest quilted leather seats in the industry, with integrated pillows on the headrest. You then put your head back in the squishy pillow and gaze down on one of the nicest infotainment screens this side of a Tesla.
The new OLED display is located front and center and provides a comprehensive control and display experience. The haptic feedback of the screen is excellent. Pressing the touchscreen gives your fingertip the sensation of a tactile button.
The only thing that some will miss is a solid volume knob. Audio adjustments can be made through a slider on the bottom of the center stack or a slider on the steering wheel, but the OLED itself looks good. According to Mercedes, its OLED panels emit light when subjected to an electric current, and do not require external background lighting, so power is only consumed where pixels light up. This ensures a better black level and even stronger contrast with less energy consumption.
Take Me There
Once you enter your destination into the well-integrated navigation system, Mercedes computer processors take over to nearly eliminate the fear of missing a turn. First, the Augmented Video for Navigation puts a video image of the surroundings, enhanced with arrows or house numbers, automatically superimposed directly onto the image in the media display.
In the instrument cluster, the space between the speedometer and tachometer has become 3D. Using a special lens in front of the cluster, the instrument display has a 3D effect. Three-dimensional warnings and functions of the driver assistance systems are immediately noticeable with striking 3D and shaded effects. 3D images of cars, trucks, buses or motorcycles surround the vehicle.
Finally, the icing on the cake is the Augmented Reality Head-Up Display (AR-HUD). The system has your friend, the “flying blue arrow,” pointing directly to the road you need to turn onto in the HUD. This is the feature for drivers with navigation anxiety that will eventually trickle down to the aftermarket. The magic blue arrow gives the S-Class the same effect as Maverick’s fighter jet helmet to ensure you have plenty of time to make your turn.
Those involved in aftermarket car audio might remember transducers from companies like Alpine and Aura. These devices gently vibrate the structure of the vehicle they are mounted to to create dramatic bass effects. We are so happy Mercedes has brought it back for its S-Class Burmester audio system. They tout it as the High-End 4D Surround Sound System.
The special resonators are built into the seats, along with 30 additional high-end speakers, all with their own amplifier channel with digital and analog filters producing a total output of up to 1,750 watts. Mercedes has already packed a subwoofer into the trunk with 400 watts feeding it directly. The DSP works well and you can easily pick which seat has the best listening experience, or you may choose all seats.
Who Wants the Spa Treatment?
One of the coolest features of the S-Class is its ability to not just massage your back but deliver a full-on spa treatment. Mercedes calls this feature Energizing Comfort and says the enhanced health and wellness system boosts drivers’ attentiveness and well-being while reducing sleepiness and stress. The “treatment” uses the audio system, climate, seat heating, cooling and fantastic ambient light to create a spa-like atmosphere. There are six different programs to choose from. Even if you rarely use the feature, it makes for a great conversation piece when you want to show off to passengers.
Finally, the Ambient Lighting
In most vehicles, ambient lighting isn’t something that is discussed much. But in the S-Class, it is a focal point. Although aftermarket interior lighting has been around for years, Mercedes can do tricks with integrating the lighting from its conception. Lower the air conditioning temperature? The ambient lighting responds with a cool blue tracer that lets you know the command is complete. Want it warmer? A red tracer comes through. Following a car too close that is stopping? The ambient lighting glows an angry red to grab your attention and prepare you to brake. The S-Class Active Brake Assist will take over if you don’t press the brake pedal quick enough.
All this luxury does not come cheap. The base price is $116K and can quickly escalate to $150K with all the bells and whistles. But, taking a line from Porsche, there is no substitute for the S-Class.