Merc on way to self drive car

The new Mercedes Benz S-Class on sale here will be cheaper than the model it replaces, despite having a higher level of specification.

The new Mercedes Benz S-Class on sale here will be cheaper than the model it replaces, despite having a higher level of specification.

The lower introduction prices includes two hybrid versions, one petrol and one diesel. First here is the S350 BlueTEC diesel which comes on the market at €98.255, 4% or €4.000 lower than the previous entry model.

Others, for which prices will be announced later, are the S300 BlueTEC HYBRID whose appeal will include annual road tax of €200; the S400 Hybrid; S500 and S500 plug-in Hybrid – the first S-Class with fuel consumption lower than 4-litres per 100kms and the first luxury car in the world to emit less than 75 grams of C02.

All engines meet latest Euro-6 emissions levels, consuming up to 20% less fuel than the outgoing series. The new S-Class exudes that sense of graciousness and luxury that one would expect from a car at the top of its market.

Inside, space has been increased. Controls and displays include two colour screens, one to provide driver information and another to control comfort and infotainment features. Pearl-effect switches and a generous use of wood on the dashboard and centre console enhance the sense of luxury while high-end surround sound, aircraft-like navigation and Google Maps displays add to its high-tech appeal.

Other features include voice-controlled telephone and audio systems with an option of having text messages and emails read aloud.

The latest S-Class is seen by Mercedes as an important crossroads on the journey to the development of a car capable of being driven without driver intervention, a goal they reckon can be reached within a decade. A feature that demonstrates this is Distronic Plus with Stop & Go Pilot, a personal steering and tailback assistant that operates at speeds up to 60km/h to deliver the three-fold benefit of reducing rear-end collisions, lowering fuel consumption and keeping a driver’s blood pressure under control.

It works by automatically ensuring that the car follows the vehicle in front – braking, accelerating, even steering autonomously so the driver can relax in traffic jams and other slow-moving conditions.

Technically, the S-Class sets new baselines in terms of electronics and engineering that will trickle down into other models in the Mercedes-Benz range. One of the many ways it extends technical boundaries is seen in the fact that - some 100 years after light bulbs were introduced into motor vehicles - it is the first to fully adopt LED lighting, inside and out.

Another first is technology that reduces brake light intensity, at night and at traffic lights. Standard and optional equipment includes air suspension and adaptive damping. Distance monitoring systems, sensors and a warning system when a coffee stop is recommended all form part of the safety offering.