By Luca Cima
Class, control and absolute safety is what the new Benz is all about
I have just left the autobahn in the south of Germany, coming from Zurich. It is raining heavily, but I am onboard the new Mercedes ‘Sonder’ Class 560 4Matic, driving on some of the countryside’s most beautiful roads; so it does not matter.
The more I drive the flagship luxury sedan, the more I enjoy it. The absence of traffic and the lush green scenery makes the experience even more beautiful. I feel the big machine start to talk to me as we move. And we agree on everything.
Despite the Mercedes’ weight and size, it allows me to explore its German-manufactured dynamics. And I am having a grand time.
The 469 bhp and the 700 Nm of torque are putting a smile on my face, while the four-wheel drive system is keeping me glued to the ground. The nine-speed gearbox is immaculate in its selection, keeping me in the perfect torque range at all times. I am maintaining very good pace; and it all happens with class, control and absolute safety.
The steering is not what I would call sporty, but it is heavy and just precise enough to keep up with the other elements of the chassis. This is a beautiful experience indeed.
But given the S-Class started a segment of luxury sedans 114 years ago, it comes as no surprise. It was only after World War Two, when a BMW airplane factory was transformed into a car manufacturer, that Mercedes faced its first competitor. Since then, every manufacturer in the world has tried to match the model. And the new one seems to be the platform Mercedes uses to show the best it has; its new technologies are endless. Attention to safety, navigation, engineering, comfort, dynamics, performance and efficiency are subtle yet tangible. Only a long briefing from a team of ten engineers could explain what modern engineering can achieve in the space of five metres.
As for the cabin, it is everything a businessperson could ask for, whether they decide to drive or be driven. German sobriety and elegance have reached an unimaginable top quality with the S-Class. Complete comfort is assured not only by the stupendous seats, materials, lighting and ergonomics, but also by the endless list of driver aids, both active and passive. You feel welcome and protected from the moment you close the door, to the moment you are done driving.
I am thoroughly impressed when driving on cruise control, as the car notices there are road works that drop the speed limit to 100kmh. The onboard radar reads the road signs and immediately, but gently, reduces the speed to the legal limit. The S-Class also informs me when I involuntarily change lanes, smoothly but surely correcting the trajectory.
There is more; the speed adjusts automatically ahead of bends, junctions or round-abouts, providing further safety.
While I have my personal reserves on the AMG version of the S-Class – I humbly find the AMG version unnecessary in the series and consider its sister model, the S560 4Matic, already fantastic in its performance – I figure the production is driven by strong customer demand.
And when has Mercedes-Benz ever failed to satisfy its demanding clientele – even the sportiest of them?