By: IOL Motoring Staff
Detroit Motor Show - Of all the German luxury sedans, none says "I have arrived" with quite the gravitas of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
It has been the class of the class since the day it was introduced, thanks to a combination of size, inside and out (especially in long-wheelbase versions) effortless performance, restrained, almost understated - but never conservative - styling, and a level of interior luxury you can literally smell as you get in.
Now the Order of the Three-Pointed Star has raised the bar yet again with the debut of a new S-Class flagship in Detroit; doff the cap to the twin-turbo, six-litre V12 S600, available only in long-wheelbase format and with a luxurious package of equipment and appointments.
And the performance of this luxury express is indeed effortless, with 390kW (up from 380) on tap at 4900 revs, backed up by 830Nm from 1900-4000rpm. Idle-stop is now standard, which contributes both to this magnificent all-aluminium V12 achieving Euro 6 compliance and to a 21 percent reduction in quoted fuel consumption, from 14 litres per 100km to 11.2.
And while it may seem a little crass to mention acceleration figures in terms of an executive conveyance such as this, the maker claims it will get from a standstill to 100km/h in a more-than-brisk 4.6 seconds - impressive for a car weighing in at 2180kg - and top out at an electronically limited 250 km/h.
POWER IS NOTHING WITHOUT CONTROL
The list of standard equipment is equally impressive, starting with 'intelligent' LED lighting all round, Magic Body Control suspension with road-surface scan, active lane-keeping, active blind-spot assistance, braking assistance with cross-traffic scanning, Distronic Plus traffic management with auto steering and idle-stop pilot, and Pre-safe collision preparation.
And when the S600 goes on sale in Europe and North America in March 2014 it will mark the introduction across the S-Class of a touchpad that works like with fingertip gestures like a smartphone touchscreen, and also allows letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting - in any language that's available on the main unit! - in addition to the existing Comand controller and Linguatronic voice control.
Also available as an option will be a head-up display that shows information on speed, speed limits and navigation instructions directly in the driver's field of view on the front windscreen.
Finally, the current S-Class' collision prevention assist set-up will be replaced across the range (including the S600) by an updated version called collision prevention assist plus.
In addition to adaptive braking, which helps to protect against collisions at speeds of more than 6.5km/h, the system is capable of autonomous braking at speeds of up to 200km/h, to reduce the severity of collisions with slower or stopping vehicles, if the danger of collision persists and the driver fails to respond-.
The system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles at a speed of up to 55km/h and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at up to 40km/h.
The S600 will be released in South Africa in May 2014; prices, as always, when they get here, but don't expect much change out of R2 million.