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Mercedes-Benz S Class launch review: A one-of-a-kind luxury experience

Mercedes-Benz has launched the seventh generation (W223) of its flagship S Class in South Africa. The W223 debuted internationally in 2020 and was poised to launch in the South African market in 2021, but was delayed until now due to Covid-19 constraints. The S Class is Mercedes-Benz's pinnacle for opulence and is arguably the best luxury sedan out there. I was lucky enough to drive this model for a few hours at the national media launch, so here's what you need to know about the W223 S Class in terms of drive quality and updates.
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I've always liked the exterior design of the S Class; I find it elegant and sleek. The W223 is long though, so that might not be everyone's cup of tea. It's longer than 5m and is greater than the older version in terms of length, height, and width. The shape is saloon-esque with a slight slant at the rear side. The grill in front resembles a gaping mouth of some sort of animal if you look long enough, but I find it to be designed quite perfectly because of how well it complements the rest of the car.

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The inside of the new S Class is superbly crafted. I can rant on and on about this, but I won't, so I will conclude my thoughts on the inside by saying that it's the best interior I've ever experienced in any vehicle so far in my lifetime.

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The W223 comes in two derivatives: The 350d and the S 500 4Matic. Both are three-litres in engine displacement. The 350d is a v6 that can produce 210kW and 600Nm of torque. The S 500 model is also a v6 but produces 320kW of power and 520Nm of torque.

The price of the S 350d is R2,3m and the S 500 is R2,5m. Both include service and maintenance contracts.

Mark Raine, Co-CEO and executive director of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, says: “The S-Class is the centrepiece of our brand, and shows what the pinnacle of luxury means for Mercedes-Benz: The symbiosis of timeless elegance, a spectacular design and class-leading automotive innovations allow our clientele to experience the true meaning of luxury.”

Mark Raine left, Selvin Govender right | image supplied
Mark Raine left, Selvin Govender right | image supplied

Selvin Govender, vice president for marketing and sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars, says: “The launch of every new S-Class represents an important milestone for Mercedes- Benz. Time and time again, the S-Class offers state-of-the-art innovations in all aspects, from comfort and elegance to safety and innovation, not only for our products but for the industry as a whole.”

What it's like to drive

As media, we were tasked with driving from Cape Town to Franschhoek and back to get a brief experience of the vehicle. I drove the S500 4Matic model halfway to our destination in Franschhoek and what stood out to me most was the sheer power of the S500 S Class. The power combined with the torque made the drive enjoyable and effortless. The S350 D model delivered a similar experience on my trip back from Franschhoek to Cape Town. It has less power but it still provided a great drive with top-class luxury.

The suspension was great on both models. I barely felt any bumps, which wasn't a surprise because of the promised comfort. As for steering, I have no complaints; I was able to manoeuvre the long vehicles easily when making u-turns and taking sharp bends.

There's also little to no noise interference from outside the vehicle when going at higher speeds. In fact, there are no loud clanking noises at all even when idling or driving slowly.

Because of the size of the new S Class, I did not think that it would float along the roads so well. But overall, the drive was superb in terms of comfort and luxury. The power and torque are an added bonus to the drive quality.

Maybach S Class

At the launch event of seventh-gen S Class, Mercedez Benz South Africa introduced the media to the new Mercedes Maybach S Class. We didn't get a chance to test drive it, but we were given information on what the car offers.

The Maybach S Class has two models: the four-litre V8 turbo-powered S580 4Matic with 370kW of power and 700Nm of torque, and the six-litre V12-powered S680 4Matic with 450kW of 900Nm of torque.

These extravagant models have a longer shape than the standard derivatives with extended wheelbases and wider rear doors It has chrome highlights and trimmings to differentiate itself from the normal S Class. This model also separates itself with two-tone colours on the exterior, as compared to the normal one-tone colour on the standard derivatives.

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I didn't get a chance to peek into the Maybach S Class, so I can't give an opinion on how the interior compares to its normal S Class counterpart. Mercedez Benz Sout Africa, however, says that the visual highlight in the interior is the large central display in portrait format.

"The epitome of superb design and comfort is brought to life in the car’s interior, as opulence radiates from the inside of this chariot of wealth. Boasting a wide selection of the finest materials, refined surfaces and seat variations that can be configured into your one-of-a-kind Maybach. Enveloping you in a sea of personal extravagance, making your experience and car extremely unique and tailor-made for you," Mercedez Benz South Africa states on the interior.

The price for the S580 model is R3,5m and the S680 model costs R4,4m. Both derivatives include a service and maintenance contract.

About Imran Salie

Bizcommnity Editor: IT, Automotive, Entrepreneurship. Imran loves all things technical and has a passion for the world of motoring. He keeps a close eye on the tech industry and has recently become infatuated with the entrepreneurship space in South Africa.

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