Mercedes-Benz Malaysia can probably enter the Malaysian Book of Records now for the most expensive locally assembled car sold in Malaysia if they wish thanks to their new CKD Mercedes-Benz S 500 L.
The local boys from Stuttgart claim that the quality control adheres to the same strict level as the European plant or else the car would not be allowed to be sold, as the S-Class is a very important model for them and there are standards to adhere to. The reason for the local assembly is so that the price can be brought down as a CBU S 500 L could cost over RM400k more than its current price of RM998,888.00.
Under the hood is a 5.5 litre V8 engine producing 488 horsepower and 530Nm of torque between a wide-ish 2,800 to 4,800rpm, decent for a normally aspirated engine. This engine is mated to Merc’s own 7G-Tronic transmission with 7 cogs. 0 to 100km/h takes only 5.4 seconds but although I’ve yet to (and probably never) try it, I bet the car does it with a refinement that’s very different from powerful small cars with that kind of power.
The AIRMATIC system is still there of course, a trademark S-Class feature – the 7-Series only recently added air suspension to the F01 but for the rear axle only. AIRMATIC works together with Adaptive Damping System (ADS) which continuously regulates within 50ms the shock absorber characteristics and takes into account the road conditions, driving style and vehicle load. When the car is in sport mode, the suspension is automatically lowered by up to 20mm to improve handling and aerodynamics.
With such a high-end model, there’s also lots of driver-aid gadgets. The Brake Assist PLUS system detects cars ahead by radar and gives a warning if the gap is too small or the approach speed is too high. It will pre-arm the brakes and brake appropriately even if the driver puts too little pressure on the brake pedal for the kind of stopping power that the system calculates is needed.
DISTRONIC PLUS also uses radar and keeps the S 500 L at the pre-set distance and speed from the vehicle ahead of it, and even works when the car needs to stop to a stand-still. Once the car in front moves again, the S 500 L will accelerate back to the pre-set speed and maintains the pre-set distance.
The instrument cluster can display an infrared view of the road ahead during the night. It uses two infrared headlamps to illuminate the road to a range that’s extended beyond the driver’s range of vision on low beam.
GPS navigation is via the COMAND APS system, which also manages the in-car entertainment and other interior controls. The maps are stored on a hard drive and maps of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are pre-loaded. The S 500 L also adds a TV tuner, Harman Kardon Logic7 audio, and a 6-disc DVD changer to the in-car entertainment system. Rear passengers have their own display (2 displays – one 8 inch display installed on each front seat headrest) so they can watch DVDs or TV or other entertainment devices without distracting the driver.
The front seats have 12-way adjustments, and both the front and rear seats have this design called “multicontour technology” which uses multiple air chambers in the seats which can be individually adjusted. Depending on the steering angle, lateral acceleration and road speed, the piezo valves in the air chambers vary the inflation pressure and volume of the air chambers in the sides of the backrests within fractions of a second, providing the driver and front passenger with better lateral support. The rear seats also have the benefit of a massage function. All seats bear the seal of approval of “Aktion Gesunder Rücken”, a German organisation which tests products for spine-friendly design.
Mercedes-Benz also claims they conducted a scientific study between the S-Class and competing models on an approximately 500km long route and they found that the same driving and traffic conditions, the average heart rate of drivers in the Mercedes saloon was up to six percent (or five beats per minute) lower than that of drivers in competing models.
This probably means the S-Class driver is relaxed and less stressed, allowing him to concentrate on the traffic situation and maintains his performance reserves for safe, confident responses in critical situations.