All hail to the brand-new Sultan of Bling, the flagship of the fleet, the mighty, all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class super sedan.
Here is Mercedes grabbing the mantle of tech leader and King of Komfort, in what is a true masterpiece of motion.
It has front wheels that steer, it has rear wheels that steer, it has cushions of air for suspension, it has an electric motor to add performance oomph, and power massaging, cooling, and pillow-topped seats.
It also has a center, hi-def, tap-and-swipe touchscreen that’s as big as the one in your living room.
While S-Class sales have taken a pounding of late, largely through our intense, passionate love affair with luxury SUVs, this new “S” still demands attention, praise and a fat checking account for payment.
What we have here is the most technically-advanced production automobile devised by any white-coated brainiac engineer, rocket scientist or 14-year-old software programmer.
This is a car easily capable of driving itself, of defying physics when it comes to cornering, of reading your inner-most thoughts. “You vill pull over and drink ze coffee mein driver”.
Alas, like a salmon swimming upstream, or a poor mayfly – life expectancy 24 hours – the days of this new S-Class are surely numbered. Later this year, Mercedes will start offering its truly ground-breaking, all-electric S-Class, the EQS.
Whereas the design of the new S is definitely evolutionary, the EQS’s curvy lines, Sumo-wrestler stance and in-your-face front end, are a head-turning revolution.
And while the S uses a Flintstone-era, fossil-fuel-guzzling V8, the EQS will offer a potent, zero-emission, electric driveline cranking out 516-horsepower, and capable of gliding over 300 miles on a charge.
But that’s tomorrow, and a whole bunch of complex, scary, unproven technology away. Right now I’m cruising along rolling, twisting Rhode Island country roads, thinking there’s no finer high-falutin’ luxury sedan on the planet than this.
I’ve driven north from New York City in this exquisite $133,550 S580 4Matic Executive Line flagship, serenaded by its 1,750-watt Burmester 4D surround sound system. It features 30 speakers and eight, er, vibrators in the backs of the seats to thump in time with the music. Springsteen has never sounded so husky.
Yes, there’s a “base” S500 model with a turbocharged 3.0-liter online six, with prices from around $111,000. But why would you bother? Life’s too short to skimp on power and luxury.
Squeeze the S580’s throttle and you ride on a tsunami of surge, the twin-turbo V8 delivering its 496 horses with the smoothness and urgency of water gushing from the Hoover Dam. Pre-drought, of course.
And that big V8 is aided and abetted by a 48-volt electric motor that throws-in an extra 21-hp for added off-the-line punch and instant mid-range thrust.
But it’s arguably the way the big Benz handles itself that impresses so much.
Simple things, like the new rear-wheel steering. Yes this is a huge car, but at lower speeds, the system will turn the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the fronts by up to 10 degrees.
That cuts the turning radius by almost seven feet to 36 feet. Parking now becomes as easy as docking a Prius.
Then there’s the air suspension that gives this new “S” the feeling of literally floating on air. This could be the best-riding luxury sedan out there.
But for a feeling of true, hedonistic luxury, slide into the Merc’s reclining rear seats. Gulfstream jets don’t offer this level of luxe. They’ll cool you and massage you, and have individual 11.6-inch screens to entertain you. The industry’s first rear-seat airbag system, might just save your life too.
It would take a book the size of War & Peace to cover all the astonishing technology that’s available with this new “S”. Most of it I have to say, found confusing and distracting. Thankfully, the brilliant “Hey Mercedes” voice control will take care of most commands.
Of course the big dilemma here is whether you drive, or be driven? I might just prefer the back seat.