Mercedes-Benz S Class - Rivervale Review
The new S Class is an inspirational ride, combining luxury and high tech to pave the way forward in the automotive world!
There have now been seven generations of Mercedes S Class, and it is nigh on impossible not to look back over its predecessors when you meet the S Class’ current, seventh iteration. This is the car model which pioneered both anti-lock brakes (in 1978) and airbags (in 1981), so leading the class internationally is not something foreign to Mercedes or the S Class.
The car world’s current obsessions revolve around connectivity, digitisation, autonomy and electrification, so this is what the S Class goes in the ring to fight for. A juxtaposition of sport and luxury, the S Class oozes drive style, class, and sophistication alongside world-leading tech.
This is a clever car. The S Class has the capacity to detect road work up ahead and project a road sign onto the road to tell you what it’s found, as a driver warning. Or it will automatically light a pedestrian that needs to be seen. Real-time road positioning is faultless, due to the massive range of data-gathering tech sources (listed below in Safety). This truly is next-gen car tech.
As you would expect from a class-leading drive, both active and passive safety features are outstanding here. There are clever airbags, a driving assistance package that does the works, and the list goes on. The full-screen nav comes fitted with a plethora of data gathering sources, displaying really accurate directions and real-time road positioning, due to its combination of data sourced from five cameras, five radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. What’s more, all this tech is far from distracting - it’s really intuitive. This safety tech is a recipe for taking us ever-closer towards accident-free driving.
Externally, aesthetics have seemingly changed little. But it’s the fine tweaks which S Class lovers will appreciate - the grille changes, the simplification (and upped-efficiency) of the head- and tail-lights.
Internally, the Mercedes is at once the epitome of traditional glamour and a mind-boggling rewrite of car interiors. Whilst it offers classically luxurious leather, polished wood and displays, it is the layout and the subtlety of improvements here that is so mind-blowing. Screens seem to float above the polished wood dash, window controls again sit in floating door panels. The driver displays feature more than 12 inches of 3D functionality, and two different HUDs are available (the larger one again uses augmented reality - projecting animated directions into your eyeline if the nav system is in function).
Standard equipment included in the AMG line model includes 19-inch alloys, keyless entry, and soft-close doors. In a car often driven by a chauffeur, these subtle touches of class are a brilliant play from Mercedes. Inside, heated front and rear seats come as standard, in Nappa leather upholstery. There are also touches like the wireless smartphone charger, and a 12.3inch digital instrument binnacle alongside a 12.8-inch infotainment centre.
The long-wheelbase model offers cushioned head restraints for relaxation on the move and rear seats which are electrically adjustable and have a memory function. Apart from the middle rear seat, the rear passengers benefit from individual heat and air conditioning.
Premium models meanwhile add 20-inch multispoke alloys to the offering, alongside a remote parking package with a 360-degree camera, and that show-stopping panoramic sliding sunroof. A few internal upgrades include active ambient lighting and a top-of-the-range Burmester surround sound system.
The Premium Plus, finally, which almost grazes the £100,000 mark when new, offers 21-inch alloys, Mercedes’ LED digital headlights (with extended range high-beam), and their augmented reality head-up display. Luxurious extras include a seated central armrest, heated door armrests and multi-contour headrests. Both steering wheel and windscreen benefit from heating elements, and the front seats gain an individual air conditioning function. The Premium Plus is only available in the long wheelbase.
This is a car made for motorway cruising, which it handles in a sleek, majestic and quiet fashion. For the first time, Mercedes have fitted an acoustic foam into several body parts early in production (it then expands during cathodic dip painting) - which makes areas like the C-pillars - right next to your rear passengers’ heads - really acoustically suppressed and comfortable.
It’s a little more talkative at lower speeds and is offered as a nine-speed automatic. It offers up the four different classic Mercedes drive modes, from Eco to Comfort to Sport to Sport Plus. There’s also an ‘Individual’, to tweak steering, throttle and damping to boot. You’ll likely find yourself in Comfort mode, although the Sports modes offer great grip, poise and responsiveness.
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