First drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S 400 in the UAE
There was a time when the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the gold standard for luxury cars, by which every other was measured. It held that distinction for decades, until about the turn of the millenium, when rivals stepped up their game at the same time that Mercedes quality took a dump. The kind of flagships peddled by everyone from Audi to Hyundai nowadays are nothing short of outstanding, each in their own way, so much so that we couldn’t imagine how luxury cars could evolve further. So it’s amazing that Mercedes-Benz has actually managed to step it up further with the newly-redesigned S-Class.
Externally, they’ve managed to come up with an all-new design that retains its stateliness without appearing to try too hard and without appearing like a rehash of its old styling. It looks great, even in this S 400 trim.
However, the real game-changer — and we don’t just throw that term around — is on the inside. Perforated leather on the dash, multi-piece robotic seats that offers six types of massage and grab you tighter in turns, two huge LCD screens with smooth animation, safety tech that practically can drive the car for you, abundant blue mood lighting all around, and details such as a big metal speaker on the ceiling between the dual-moonroofs as well as little door-speakers that rotate and pop out when you turn on the stereo! All that goes above and beyond the usual luxury-car features, such as space, leather and power-everything. It’s a shame we didn’t get to dawdle with all the little options due to lack of time.
Powered by a 333 hp 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 specifically for the GCC market, the S400 packs all the punch you’ll ever need. It’s a torquey motor, responsive and useful. The entire driving experience is as smooth as the engine, very silky in the way that the controls operate. There’s almost no feedback, but then again, that’s the point.
With the S 400, you don’t get the “magic” whatever suspension that Mercedes has been hyping, but even the standard air suspension is rather excellent, damping out road imperfections and even speed bumps very well, much better than similar systems from BMW, Jaguar, Lexus or Cadillac. It handles well too, as much as you can expect from a car this big. And it’s all handled very silently, with the only obvious noise being a rumble from the tyres.
We’re not easily-impressed Honda fanboys. We own luxury cars ourselves, and are used to driving several others for review, including ones that cost way more than the S400, but even we were astounded, rather than just taking it for granted. The S-Class takes the game to a whole new level, for no more than the price of a BMW 7-Series. Move over BMW, the three-pointed star is back.
For prices and specs, visit the Mercedes-Benz buyer guide.