Mercedes-Benz exhibited no shortage of audacity when it called its all-new flagship S-Class “the best car in the world” as it was introduced to the media earlier this year. With its slick new styling, sparkling LED lights and spectacular interior, it sure brought the wow factor, though for that claim to be anything more than hyperbole, it would have to drive at least as good as it looks. And after flying to Ontario, Canada, where Mercedes gave me my first chance to drive the big übersedan—which will start appearing in showrooms in September—I can say that it does.
The LED Zeppelin
But first, feast your eyes. Unlike the last S-Class, which had a pinched snout and clunky contours, the 2014 car’s shape is as slippery as that wet bar of soap you keep dropping in the gym shower. If you think Audi has a lock on pretty LED lighting, know that the S-Class is the first all-LED car, using approximately 500 of the little guys throughout the car, inside and out. The ambient light-sensitive, three-element taillamps are particularly cool as they dim at night so as not to “dazzle” other drivers (yes, “dazzle”—Mercedes’ word, not mine), drivers behind you at a stoplight or in traffic. So considerate.
A Rolling Spa
We love our leather and certainly love our wood, and the S-Class has plenty of both (though perhaps not the kind you’re thinking of), with many color choices of each, all arranged in extraordinary elegance, even among flagship sedans. The interior design and execution of the new S-Class approaches that of Bentley and Rolls Royce, which is no small feat.
There is so much to talk about inside this car that it’s hard to pick a place to start, but among its standout features are its twin 12.3-inch, color, side-by-side dashboard screens, available “hot stone” massaging seats, laser-cut perforated leather trim on the seats and dashboard and available 1560-watt 24-speaker Burmester sound system that provides surround sound for each outboard seat. Speaking of seats, the four rear seating packages include two that offer the right rear seater an opportunity to fully recline, legs crossed, while watching TV. Particularly stunning is the optional silver-stained wood in a two-tone gray leather interior. The cherry on top—an interior aroma release system always keeps the car smelling great, with one’s choice of four available scents. Or you can install your favorite scented oil. Slick.
Nearly Drives Itself
So does it drive well? It really does. It would be sufficient if it merely had a fast engine and a smooth ride, but beyond those must-haves, the 2014 S-Class has more cameras than a red carpet blockbuster premiere, which, combined with radars and other communication devices, help keep it from hitting other cars, pedestrians and even animals that may cross its path, as well as keep it in its designated lane. Activate the radar cruise control with stop-and-go capability and the S-Class makes traffic jams and road trips equally pleasurable.
Of course, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class won’t come cheap when it arrives in dealerships this fall, but there are many pricier flagship sedans from other manufacturers that cost as much or more than the $100K-plus estimated base price of the S-Class. Is it the best car in the world? Well, let’s put it this way—in the 20 years I’ve been testing cars, I can’t recall anything being much better.