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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's what's on the inside that counts! Or is it? The new S-Class

I was going to ask you, dear reader that question, but then it occurred to me than it’s fairer to look in the mirror and come up with an honest answer myself. I looked and looked (straight in the eyes) and then looked some more. The only thing I could come up with was: It depends.

But looking at the pictures of the freshly minted Mercedes-Benz flagship sedan, I couldn‘t help but wonder if the engineers and designers at Daimler-Benz agreed that “you can’t judge the book by its cover” and “beauty is only skin deep” and so on.

The S-Class has always dominated, or at least heavily influenced the full size luxury sedan segment. Only occasionally would Mercedes be challenged by BMW, Audi or some of the American and Japanese players.

The car was never striking, but always maintained elegant and understated, if somewhat conservative lines. My favorite large Benz sedans were form the sixties and seventies with the 1968 300 SEL 6.3 and the 600 limo at the top of the list.

Modern Benz S-Class sedans have been fine machines with decent moves, supreme comfort and recognizable, elegant styling.  It was just the interior design of these cars that has never brought anything exiting to the table.

The new top Benz changes all that. Maybe after the necessary execution of Maybach, Daimler-Benz decided not to fire the designers from the fallen brand, but boost the Mercedes ranks and take the new S-Class’ interior to a new level of richness and highly polished luxury.

I think they succeeded. The car’s interior is not sci-fi high-tech, but blends traditional elements with technology very well (assuming you keep in mind the target market for the machine). I think it takes luxury interior design beyond Rolls-Royce and Bentley, and blends it with hi-tech in its own way.

It seems to work, and I’m sure it’s going to be a hit with the strangely mixed (from movie stars to gangsters, respected business people and politicians) audience of the big Benz. The rest of the car doesn’t hurt either. Understated, elegant (if a little boring) styling, decent driving dynamics and the latest technology (including self-driving at low speeds) form a package that’s hard to argue with. All of the sudden, in one swift move Mercedes leads the pack again.

Did I mention that the 600 Pullman limo is back?

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