YOU might see a blacked-out S-Class Mercedes and wonder who’s inside. Well I can assure you, it’s not nearly as exciting as what’s inside.
I’ve been trying out a top-spec version of this luxury motor, and it’s like driving a car from the future.
From the outside, the S350d L AMG Premium Plus Executive is a sleek, graceful, road-gobbling Mercedes. Nothing new there.
It goes like the clappers, thanks to a powerful six-cylinder 3.0L diesel engine capable of 286 horsepower.
That gives you a max speed of 155mph and manages zero to 60mph in 6.4 seconds. Very fast for a 17.5-foot behemoth.
Of course, it’s designed to put VIPs in the back, and get them somewhere very fast – on German roads designed for cars that go even faster still.
It’s an automatic drive with a nine-speed transmission, and it’s as buttery smooth as you’d expect.
Of course, this is a Mercedes so nothing here is surprising.
What did shock me was the sheer scale of technology on board.
It's like they've built a car that they want to pitch to James Bond.
The first thing you notice is the gorgeous 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen (that’s almost certainly better screen tech than your telly, and is found on top-tier iPhones).
There’s also a 12.3-inch driver display, and a removable tablet in the back to boot.
The main screen is huge and Mercedes’ infotainment system is extremely easy to navigate. Attractive, too.
Importantly, even if you hated it (which you won’t) then you’ve still got Apple CarPlay, which basically turns the entire system into an iPhone – with all your apps, music and more ready to use.
So far, so normal, But suddenly you start to notice all of the beautiful, crazy features Mercedes has built.
When you set up the car, you can add a fingerprint.
This lets you – and others – log in with a tap on the scanner, automatically switching to your preferred settings for seating, heating and more.
On biometrics, there’s also a facial recognition system to monitor drowsiness. It’s an extremely comfortable car – but napping at 70mph is still a very bad idea.
That said, there is some kind of “sleep mode” for the rear-offside passenger.
With a single tap of a button, the seat in front folds down to maximise leg room, so you can really stretch out and get some shut-eye.
And there’s a panoramic sunroof, sunshades on side and rear windows, and a long enough cabin that can can largely plunge the back into total darkness.
Sit back, relax
I’ve never actually wanted to be a passenger on a long road trip more than in this car.
There’s ambient lighting throughout, which can be colour-adjusted in seconds through the main display.
And for the truly lazy, there’s a voice control function that lets you command car features without touching a button.
I first discovered that “Hey Mercedes, open the sunroof” worked inside the Blackwall Tunnel. It was disgusting, but quite brilliant.
There’s four-zone climate control so everyone can enjoy their own specific temperatures.
The seats are climatized too, so you can heat them or cool them to different levels.
And a massage function lets you get a quick rub-down while you travel between important meetings.
One particularly strange feature was the Energizing Mode, which would suggest itself via the display every so often.
It’s a 10-minute program that uses various seat and climate functions, paired with soothing audio and a zen on-screen animation to reinvigorate you.
I don’t really understand it, but I’m very glad it exists.
This car is basically a rolling spa.
The seats are electrically adjustable and move in just about every angle you’d want.
Most excitingly, they’re controlled by a single, large, touch-sensitive button shaped like a chair. It’s very intuitive, and great fun to use.
The armrests in the front and rear doors are heated, and there are luxury headrests that are genuinely more comfortable than the pillows on my bed. It’s a ruddy revolution.
Mercedes has built an easy-entry system for the car, with doors unlocking when you approach with the key on you.
You can tell when this is happening because the handles pop out from their sit-flush position. Beautiful and spooky – just the way I like my cars.
And when you turn the car on, the headlights do a strange and mesmerising dance that lets everyone know you're driving a £100,000 Mercedes.
The cabin itself is extremely quiet, partly thanks to noise-reduced tyres with foam absorbers.
But if you want to awaken yourself, the car’s audio is fantastic.
It’s a brilliant Burmester 3D surround sound system that will knock your socks off.
But it also sounds rich and fulfilling at low volumes – presumably playing a bit of Wagner while cruising down the Autobahn to your next business venture, or some such.
Driver assistance features abound.
You’ve got 360-degree parking sensors, including an absolutely mind-blowing 3D view that lets you rotate around the car and see your entire surroundings from any direction.
There’s adaptive cruise control, lane assist and blind-spot warnings.
And there’s even a traffic light view, so if you’re too close at the lights to see them change – you can get an upwards-facing camera to show you what’s going on.
A HUD is projected out onto the road for the driver, showing the all-important speedo – and perhaps more importantly, the speed limit.
But it also features an augmented reality navigation system that projects arrows onto the road to follow. Yes, just like a video game.
Oh, and it’s got USB ports and wireless charging. Nothing has been missed.
It’s hard to imagine what else Mercedes could feasibly put in this car without entering the realms of ludicrousness. A fridge perhaps, or a former special-ops bodyguard.
Almost everything else you’d ever need in a car is covered for – and some extras.
Every few minutes I’d accidentally find a new feature and my mind would be blown.
Kids usually say they want to be a fighter pilot or an astronaut when they grow up.
Really, they should be saying that they want to be the owner of a Mercedes S350d AMG Premium Plus Executive.
It’s certainly more comfortable than an F15 or a trip to the International Space Station.
Bit cheaper, too…
We tested the Mercedes S350d L AMG Line Premium Plus Executive, with an on-the-road price of £99,490. The series starts at £78,705.
- New S-Class at Mercedes – buy here
All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed. Always do your own research before making any purchase.
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