Being a leader in society, whether in business or government, usually means you are leading the way and are a role model to those that are watching your success. A vehicle to fit your stature is often required. Since time immemorial in the automobile space, the Mercedes-Benz brand has been a constant feature in ground-breaking innovation and setting standards for luxury passenger vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz brand can arguably be considered as one of the leaders in society when it comes to auto mobility, it is therefore not surprising that leaders in society generally feel that this brand best reflects their success when it comes to a luxury vehicle of their choice.
Recently I got to sample the Mercedes-Benz S-Class which has been the torchbearer for Mercedes-Benz’s sedan offering for over a century. The S-Class is rich in history and dates back to the Mercedes-Benz W116 which was the first model in the brand’s history to bear the name S-Class. Even during those early years of the W116, the S-Class was positioned as an exclusive, elegant, lavish, comfortable and stately vehicle.
Things may have changed so much, as it has been just under half a century since the S-Class was introduced, but the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still revered amongst its peers. I tested the S-Class 350d and upon receiving it, a few adjectives sprung to mind: sophistication, luxury and comfort. I immediately set out to discover what earns the S-Class its stature amongst its peers and also draws powerful leaders to it.
The wide array of technology that can be experienced in the S350d is quite sophisticated and ensures that the driver has an impeccable driving experience. This is particularly impressive, given that the S350d is one of the lower models of the S-Class range. On the interior technology front, the features such as Comand Online with Widescreen Cockpit with 12.3-inch high-resolution screen add a new dimension to experiencing navigation and the infotainment, it also transforms the way driver information is seen and experienced. Car-to-X communication enables autonomous information exchange with other vehicles as well as the traffic infrastructure. This system essentially collects data on the road to assist a driver to know of hazardous situations on the road early on. A multifunction steering wheel with Touch Control buttons and a Touchpad with Controller can be used to control anything from the temperature in the car right up to changing music. The optional Thermotronic automatic climate control system allows for three climate zones and three climate modes. The driver, front passenger and the back passengers can all set preferred temperature and air distribution for their own seats. The S350d comes with electrically adjustable front seats that are not only convenient to use but are designed to hug the driver on tight corners.
Still on the interior, the Infotainment system of the S350d comes standard with a 13-speaker Burmester 3-D audio system, satellite radio and Bluetooth as well as the Smartphone Integration package with Apple Car Play and Android Auto as well as a wireless charging system for mobile devices. Surprisingly, the Comand infotainment system is easy to use once I mastered the intuitive touchpad controller. Aside from the wireless charging system for mobile devices, the S350d comes with two USB charging ports. Upfront, the split-view front entertainment system allows both the driver and the front passenger to enjoy similar views of the infotainment which enhances the front passenger’s experience of the car. A rear-seat entertainment system with 2 screens can be mounted on the back of the front seats.
The S350d can comfortably sit five people and no passenger will feel hard done as all seats are extremely generous in size and the amenities of the car can be enjoyed by all passengers. One key feature is the massage feature which can be enjoyed by the front and back passengers. The best seats in the S-Class have to be the back ones, where you can enjoy more leg room even when the front seats are pushed back to their maximum. The comfort levels at the back can particularly allow a leader to do last minute preparations for that all important meeting she is being driven to. If privacy is required, standard dark coloured blinds can be deployed. These also offer added protection from the harsh African sun. The S350d I had on test had scent dispensers, to ensure that the aroma in the vehicle is constantly pleasing. To add to the dramatic effect of the beautiful interior of the S350d, it comes with ambient lighting, leather trimmings and mahogany looking wooden finishes.
The beauty of the S-Class is not restricted to the interior. Outside, the LED headlights of the S-Class feature a distinctive trio of daylight running light bars which produce the maximum light intensity permitted by law, this in turn results in the best level of brightness. To complement these beautifully designed LED lights, the front bumper has been reshaped from the old model with a radiator grille that is simple yet very commanding with three distinct horizontal lines. Overall the body shape of the S-Class is more linear and does not have a lot of creases.
Notwithstanding what I told you about the back seats, the drive was particularly the most exciting part for me, I got to fully experience the vehicle as the driver and got to understand why leaders go for this car. It is both pleasing from a driver and passenger perspective.
From a safety point of view, the S350d had an array of safety systems and driver aids, such as the Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Emergency Stop Assist. The driving assistance package of the S350d also includes the PRE SAFE PLUS feature, which additionally takes into account and mitigates dangerous situations caused by traffic following behind, such as a rear impact for example. These features make driving the S-Class much easier and quite enjoyable for the driver. The S-class 350d is quite a big car and ordinarily you would struggle to park the car in normal parking spaces. Mercedes-Benz has introduced a wide array of cameras and parking sensors to aid with this process. The cameras give you different angles as well as an aerial view of the parking spot which makes it easier to slot even into tight parking spaces.
The S350d featured inline 6-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine with 210kW/600 Nm which proves to be more than sufficient to carry the big body of the S-Class. It does 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, which is quite impressive for such a big car. You would need to go for something higher in the range if you like putting the pedal to the metal, however if you need to be driven in the car and like cruising calmly around (as a leader should), the S350d is yours. The Airmatic suspension of the S-Class provides high levels of ride comfort which constantly adapts to prevailing driving conditions, by allowing each wheel to self-adjust according the current driving condition. The system therefore ensures maximum drive comfort for any situation you put the S-Class through.
It’s not hard to see why the S-Class meets the approval of leaders, the technology and driver aids in the vehicle are fit for a person of sophisticated standing. The S-Class as illustrated by our test S350d literally gives you just about everything you could ever want in a car – comfort, luxury, practicality, convenience and almost an unmatched sense of achievement. The only catch is that it comes with a hefty price tag, but I doubt this would be a deterrent for any leader who has chosen it as her preferred mode of transport.
The S-Class 350d will set you back by approximately R1 620 000.
with Khulekani On Wheels