2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Henny's First Look At "The Best Car In The World"
2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class On Its Way!
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
In ‘pursuit of the best or nothing’, Mercedes has focused on luxury, safety and efficiency, which is not exceptional really, but rather logical when developing a top of the line premium vehicle.
This does not mean you should navigate away now, as there are quite some exceptional things I am going to talk about before reporting on the first drive in a day or two.
Important decrease in fuel consumption
In that respect I recall the mid eighties, when I owned a two year old S-Class. We did not blink an eye when filling up the huge petrol tank of the 18.7 gallon with gas prices being sky high, especially in Europe; you may feel less embarrassed if your car has decent fuel consumption. I say decent, as a 150 kW engine uses only 4.4 liter/100 km, which translates into 64 MPG(Imp); 53.5 MPG(U.S.A.).
This is not only due to ever improving technology for internal combustion engines, but also to the very low coefficient of drag of 0.24, which sets the new bench mark in the segment. The upcoming S 300 BlueTec Hybrid is going even to 0.23, thanks to more aerodynamic measures.
Dr. Teddy Woll, responsible for aerodynamics said that at the development start of this new generation S-Class, the goal was to achieve a Cd value of 0.24: “Seven years ago that seemed hardly possible. We could do it, but we had some strong fights with the engineers responsible for heat management. We wanted a completely flat floor underneath the car, while they, being responsible for heat control, wanted openings to manage the heat flow. Step by step, every time with a tiny little improvement of one thousands here and another two thousands there, we got were we are now.”
Another world premiere for the S-Class is that it is the first car ever without a single light bulb. Every light source is LED, which means that it has nearly 500 LEDs: 56 in the headlamps, 35 in the tail lights, 4 in the fog lamp and some 400 in the interior.
Self dimming brake lights
Using LED technology it opened the way for another world first: brake lights, of which the intensity is automatically reduced at night or while waiting at a traffic light. Brilliant!! Who has never been waiting behind a car with very bright brake lights…? Since the automatic transmission is becoming more popular in Europe now, and people keep their foot on the brake pedal when waiting, I sometimes feel I should shield my eyes.
Eyes on the road
No, I am not going to address distracted driving here, but ‘eyes on the road’ technology wise means that the new S-Class has ‘eyes’ that scan the road surface with a stereo camera in order to detect any unevenness or changes. At a distance of 15 meters, two pictures are made simultaneously. The information is sent to the Magic Body Control that immediately sets up the suspension to deal with the changes. According to Stefan Cytrynski, responsible for the MBC system, the whole process only takes 120 milliseconds. “This is really fast. Half of the time is needed for calculation of the pictures.”
This system is an option for the 8-cylinder models. Standard for the S-Class is the Adaptive Damping system ADS Plus, that operates continuously, as well as the improved Airmatic air suspension.
Another world first is the perfuming system that is incorporated in the Air Balance package for the climate control. It can be switched on and off manually and the intensity can be adjusted as well. It is an atomization system that does not change the interior smell permanently, nor are perfume molecules deposited on clothing of fabric surfaces of the car. The fragrance is mild and dissipates rapidly.
Hot Stone Massage
Not really hot stone, but the S-Class offers a massage function that is based on the hot stone principle, again a world first. Mercedes calls it Energizing massage function. It works with 14 separately actuated air cushions in the back rest. You can make a choice of six programs, two of which use a warming function. This is also available for the rear seats.
The S-Class now also has Magic Vision Control, the wiper/washers that were introduced on the SL more than a year ago. Water is sprayed on the windshield directly from the wipers, which means that no fluid is sprayed over the roof and ‘blown’ along the A-pillars. It speaks for itself that this requires less fluid.
That is what we have done this afternoon in a simulator in the basement of the hotel. I ‘drove’ the S on the route projected on the big screens, but I braked automatically when seeing a car coming from the right. The second time, I allowed the system to warn and brake and yes, indeed, we just made it without a ‘crash’.
Other systems were also demonstrated, such as Night View, which now is improved by also using a thermal image camera. In dark areas the system alerts the driver to potential danger of pedestrians or animals in front of the car and a spotlight function flashes the lights at any pedestrians detected ahead.
Please come back to The Auto Channel soon, to read about my first drive and tell you if the new S is the ‘best car in the world’.