Let me know in the comments section if you think that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 can become the car that can rule the uber-luxury class. I think it can, but then again, Mercedes usually does!
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class can sometimes go seven or eight years beforeinstituing a major refresh, redesign, or mechanical overhaul. But, it usually leads in terms of sales and looks. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class upholds that tradition, and it will likely be sold in droves – for a while. Then, all of the competing automakers will make newer, nicer, and possibly better cars. This segment is competitive. Currently, the S-Class, Lexus LS460, and Cadillac XTS are the segment sales leaders. The S-Class is likely to blow all of it’s competitors out of the water. It is just that good.
It is loaded with features that will make your jaw drop. This car isn’t yet another ordinary businessperson special with a cave-like interior. It will drive itself. Really, it will! It won’t drive itself completely, but it is semi-autonomous! It uses stereo cameras to guide it along the road. The name is awesome, as well: Traffic Jam Assist. No, it won’t send all of the rubberneckers to the grave. Only their own stupidity will do that. To activate this marvelous system, simply hold the brake pedal down while stationary, flick the Distronic (MBZ speak for cruise control) lever down, and give it gas. It will take you up to 37 mph. The cruise control is then set for up to 37 mph. It will follow the car ahead of you simply, smartly, and efficiently. It will do that until your speed increases or you take control of the steering wheel and pedals. Above 37 mph, it will still guide itself. Kind of. It will handle itself up to 125 mph, and it can bring itself to a complete stop at any speed if need be. Those stereo cameras are also able to read the lines in the road, and keep the plump S-Class in between those lines without any driver input. Above 37 mph, if you keep your hands off of the steering wheel for more than 10 seconds, then a loud BEEEEEP will sound, along with a flashing graphic instruction, until you place your hands on the wheel. But, that’s just Mercedes-Benz’s lawyers telling you to be a good driver. As long as you don’t take the S550 on any places where there aren’t any lines in the road (i.e. tracks and gravel roads), this car will take a person places where he/she has never gone before, all by itself.
There’s other zany technology stuffed into this car. Take the badly named Magic Body Control that is an optional active suspension feature. If you choose to order this, then the four-wheel air suspension goes away, and is replaced by oil-over-coil shocks. The “magic” part of that is that those same stereo cameras scan the road ahead to see if there is a pothole, a speed bump, or some roadkill. Given the right situation, the Magic Body Control is effective in a way that is quite simply effective, in a spooky sort of way. The result is one of the smoothest rides out there, this side of a Citroen or an old Buick Roadmaster. When you put the car in “Sport” mode, Magic Body Control is switched off, so you can hurtle around curves and crash and bang over the smallest road imperfections. But, that’s what makes the car so enjoyable to drive.
In the unlikely event that you will be in an accident, you will survive just about any crash. For those of you riding in the backseat (the place to be), there are inflatable seat belts. When the rear door is opened, the seat belt buckle receiver visibly rises. This is probably because most customers (think China) don’t wear their seat belts in the back seat. Once they buckle up for safety, the buckle will retract a few inches into the seat, therefore cinching the seat belt across their hips so they do not slide under the seat belt in a crash. Speaking of accidents, there’s a feature that will make any safety-conscious parent happy. It’s called Pre-Safe Plus. It actively and automatically prepares the car for a rear-end collision. What the car does when it’s about to be rear-ended (it has seven rear-facing cameras), it tightens all of the seatbelts (even if they’re not in use), applies the brakes completely, and, BAM. Applying the brakes for a full-ABS stop seems counter-intuitive, but it’s safer to not be moving when you’re hit. It can also “see” pedestrians and other cars. It reacts differently to both. When it sees a car cutting in front of it, the brakes are applied for a full-ABS stop. When it sees a pedestrian, the brakes are applied much earlier and gentler.
Even though it’s got enough technology in it to make a computer scientist have a heart attack, one of the best advances is in the interior. It’s truly the first German interior to really stand out from the British luxury brands (Bentley, Rolls Royce, Jaguar). Leather and wood gracefully snake their way throughout the stellar cabin. The interior designer said that these designs were influenced by swan wings. Let’s call this new technique “swanning,” okay? If You own the outgoing generation of the S-Class, you will know about those four rectangular vents on the dashboard. Six neat, circular vents have replaced them. Combine that with the clock, and the seven circles (vaguely) resemble the pearls on a woman’s necklace. I don’t ask. The head designer of MBZ’s interiors said that from now on, all vents in a Mercedes-Benz car will be round. I find it odd that the car that will be starting the round vent trend still has rectangular vents in the back. One other fun interior flourish are the speaker grilles for the Burmester audio system. They are covered in an impossibly complex pattern of tiny holes of varying sizes. If you have trypophobia, don’t look at it. For me, it becomes ever more fascinating when I look at the pictures.
The mechanical parts of the car are relatively unchanged. The seven-speed automatic is still their, as is the 5.5-liter, twin turbo V8. Power, however is better. It has been uprated from 429 horsepower to a more powerful 455 horsepower. Torque is the same at 516 lb-ft of torque.
Overall, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 is the car to be measured against for full-size luxury. It’s powerful, it’s loaded with technology that will take it’s competitors years to catch up with, it’s beautiful, and it’s got German engineering. And German reliability. I want one. I won’t ask my readers. I know the answer. And it’s not yes.