The best part of been an automotive tester as well as writer is that you get to sample the latest technology in India. Speaking of technology in cars, in my childhood, I always associated it with Mercedes and more so with the Mercedes S-class. It was a known fact that any Mercedes S-class in India brings along with it the latest in international technology. So, this was the reason why this thought crossed my mind. Why shouldn’t I go ahead and get a test drive of the Mercedes S-class? After all, there are not many Mercedes cars that we have tested except for the Mercedes E- class AMG which we had a go at. Enough of talks and now lets have a go at the technological marvel that is the Mercedes S-class.
The flag ship car of Mercedes India Limited, the Mercedes S-class in India has the corporate look of the family. In some ways, it does look menacing but then hints of subtilty also show up. The grille is all chromed with the 3 pointed star staring down the long bonnet. The eagle eyed head lamps flanking the car are quite big. The day time running lamps at the bumper and thick mesh air dam also look the part. The bonnet is also sharply raked to give thought to pedestrian safety. The 7 spoke 18 inch alloy wheels also lend it an air of sophistication. They fill the wheel arches well and leave no cause for complaint.
Some muscle just above the wheel arches show that this car means serious business. The door handles are also body colored whereas the wing mirrors have turn indicators embedded into them. The door arches are also outlined in chrome. The boot also has a sort of muscular stance which is acctenuated by the LED tail lamps. The twin silencers also suggest that this car means serious business.
The best that German engineering can offer. It has got that half wood, half leather steering wheel. Typical of Merc(after sampling the E AMG), the audio controls are mounted on the sides of the steering wheel. The Mercedes S-class in India is offered with two color schemes as decided by the customer. The steering wheel adjusts at the press of a button. WOW! Didn’t I tell you that this is a technological marvel after all? The back lights inside the cabin can also be varied according to mood and ambience selected. Na, I wouldn’t bore you with how comfortable the seats are and even that they offer massaging functions. Every one knows that. Also the very high quality that has gone down into making this cabin ultra luxurious isn’t a hidden fact.
The rear seats where 99% of the owners would be spending their lives is equally comfortable. Keeping in line with international trends, even Mercedes are now offering this car with long wheelbase as if the stock one wasn’t sufficient to stuff in legs. To keep them entertained, DD has decided to air its national channel however this is available only when the car is stationary. There is also a 4 zone thermotronic climate control system which keeps the occupants cool.
Handling and ride quality
The Multi-link Full Air Suspension with level control & torsion bar stabilizer at the rear as well as the 4-link Full Air Suspension with level control & torsion bar stabilizer at the front are tuned for comfort. It is a general assumption and a very true one that most of the owners of the Mercedes S-class in India would never go racing down corners or go apex hunting. The magic carpet ride quality is so good that it is hard explaining it. Be it at high speeds or even the low ones, not a single bump or thud would register inside the cabin. NVH is absent and as we all know, Mercedes are the masters in creating cabins which cocoon us from the outside world. As regards the handling, this car is upto the mark. Though not as agile as the BMW 7 series, it does let you confidently go around a curve or bend as easily as it were pottering in town.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Mercedes S-class in India is offered with 3 engine options in India. There is only a single diesel engine and that is the 2987cc, V4 engine which has a power output of 210 bhp and 490 Nm of torque. It is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission which is called 7G-TRONIC. The less powerful petrol motor is a 3.5 liter V6 unit which pumps out 272 Bhp and 350 Nm of torque. The more powerful motor is a 5.5 liter V8 unit which has a power output of 388 Bhp and peak torque of 515 Nm.
All the engines are best in class and offer scintillating performance. If that wasn’t enough, there is also a 6.3 liter V8 engine designed by AMG. It is rumored to produce 612 Bhp of peak power and 1000 Nm of torque. Scary.
Braking is achieved via disc all around. There are a variety of aids assisting it in this. There is the usual ABS, EBD, traction control, ESP and also active braking. Safety is the best with the Mercedes S-class been declared the safest car in the world in many countries where it is currently sold.
Fuel efficiency is one of the least concerns for an ultra luxury car buyer but then the Mercedes S-class doesn’t disappoint on this count as well. The diesel returns a 9.0 kmpl in the city and 12.1 kmpl on the highway. The 3.5 liter petrol boasts of 6.7 kmpl in city and 9.4 kmpl on the highway. The 5.5 liter motor makes do with 5.4 kmpl in city and 8.7 kmpl on the highway.
Well, the Mercedes S-class in India is one of those cars which everyone craves to have in their life but then comes the affordability factor. It is not an everyday car that one can just buy and go for buying groceries. It is for those who want to announce to the world that they have arrived. It is a show-off factor for all those deep pocketed paunches moving around. The Mercedes S-class price for the 350 CDI in India is Rs 83,34,000 (ex-show room, Delhi). The price of the Mercedes S-Class 350 L in India is Rs 86,14,969 (ex-show room, Delhi). Now, the price of the top of the line Mercedes S-Class 500 L is Rs 1,06,90,000 (ex-show room, Delhi).