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Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Broadcast dates : 27th November 2005
3rd December 2005

Mercedes-Benzís new S-Class is one of the most important cars the German manufacturer has launched in the companyís history, which goes back over a century.

New management is being introduced after a turbulent period which saw Daimler-Benz merge with Chrysler to form the DaimlerChrysler corporation.

And over the past decade there has also been a major corporate-culture shift.

Ever since 1996 with the introduction of the so-called "four eyes" E-Class model, Mercedes-Benz has been targeting a new kind of customer.

Gone is the grey-suited, grey-shoe image, and in its place is a more flamboyant character, just as likely to wear Gucci and Armani as a three-piece pin-stripe with lace-up brogues.

The S-Class is Mercedes-Benzís flagship, and Mercedes has always been world leaders in producing big, fast land-ships with a blend of performance, safety, and perhaps most importantly, effortlessness.

The new S has a major act to follow, as the out-going generation was a near-perfect amalgam of style, speed and advanced technology.
With the new car, Mercís designers needed to push the technological envelope even further, and there was also a conscious decision to create a bolder visual impact.

Hence the pronounced wheel arch flares, dramatically-angled headlights, prominent taillights, and large-diameter alloy wheels.

The S-Class heritage goes back to the 1950s, starting with the charmingly rounded 220-S of 1954. It ranges through seven distinct series to the new model, the eighth-generation S-Class.

A feature of the S-Class evolution is its growth in size. And the latest car is bigger in every respect compared to the previous model.
The first-generation S came in 220 and 220-SE forms, and was produced between 1954 and 1959.

Wooden dashboards were considered the norm in those days and horizontal speedometers were fashionable.
The second-generation S-Class featured engine sizes from 2,2 to 3,0 litres and introduced conservative German versions of the American tail fins that were all the rage in the late 1950s.
In 1965 the beautiful squared-off S-Class made its debut with six-cylinder engines and the awesome 6,3 litre V8.
By the mid-seventies, the fourth-generation was firmly associated with V8 power, although six-cylinder models were still available. In South Africa, the 350-S was the top model and was on sale here until 1980.
In 1981 the catís-eye S-Class made its debut here and this was a stunningly successful car for Mercedes. Engines ranged from a 2,8 litre six, to a supercar-like 5,6 litre V8 for serious Autobahn speed.
No-one really liked the slab-sided proportions of this sixth-generation flagship, but it sold remarkably well as it was a technically superior car.
The seventh-generation S-Class, still on sale here, is arguably the most complete Mercedes ever built, and most experts rate it as the luxury standard-bearer. Yes, a hard act to follow indeed!
Mercedes-Benz is proud of its pioneering achievements in the fields of safety and comfort.

The new car has once again grown larger in all important dimensions and in Europe it will be offered in two wheelbase sizes with overall lengths of 5 and 5,2 metres.

On the performance front, the new V8 engine has a 26 per cent increase in power to 285 kilowatts, and 530 Newton metres of torque. The new S 500 accelerates to a hundred in just 5,4 seconds.

The top twelve-cylinder S 600 now has 380 kilowatts, and its V12 engine rockets the massive saloon to a hundred in just 4,6 seconds.

Stylistically, it has to be said, the new S- Class is not everyoneís cup of Earl Grey.

The flowing canopy roofline has been dramatized in the new car and this is quite pleasing.

But the exaggerated wheel arch flares give the car an almost retro look which is quite shocking compared to the understated elegance of the out-going model.

The new nose is much bolder and also takes a bit of getting used to, although itís in keeping with the overall flowing shape of the car.

To sum it up, it seems as if thereís more Chrysler than Daimler in the new carís appearance.
A side-impact collision is one of the most dangerous that the occupants of a car can experience, because of the proximity of the people to the intruding force.

For the front crumple zone, similar steel alloys are used in graduated strengths and thicknesses, to provide progressive, energy-absorbing deformation.
For maximum braking safety the new S-Class has an improved radar-linked system called Brake Assist Plus, which applies ideal braking force automatically, even if the driver applies too little pedal pressure.

On the passive safety front, the S-Class is simply loaded with features. These include eight airbags, with the driver and front passenger airbags inflating in proportion to the severity of an impact.
The seatbelts feature improved Pre-safe technology which tensions the seatbelts if a potential accident situation is detected, such as severe braking or skidding.

The seat cushions are also inflated to support the occupants, the seat backs are repositioned to prevent sub-marining, and the head restraints are automatically repositioned.

Continuing the carís technological Tour de Force in the fields of safety, Night View Assist is a new Merc system that premiers in the S-Class.

This system uses additional infrared headlamps to illuminate the road, extending the driverís vision.

The advantage of infra-red is that itís invisible to the human eye and does not dazzle on-coming drivers.

A windscreen-mounted camera records the road image and displays it on the instrument cluster.
The new techno-marvel S-Class will be coming to South Africa in 2006, and itís set to make a major impact. Whether you like the new looks or not, this is probably the most advanced car on the planet right now.

We canít wait to sample one.

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