EDITOR WES RAYNAL: As I’ve written often, I like the latest Mercedes-Benz S-class. It’s so relaxing; sometimes that’s just what one needs after a long day.
Relaxing and refined. Everything is so quiet and smooth. S-classes and Audi A8s are generally my favorite big luxury sedans. The S-class (and A8) offers, to me, the best overall combination of looks, quality, and smoothness, thanks to a long list of electronic doodads.
The drive is subdued and luxurious -- the cockpit is beautifully detailed and comfortable with typical outstanding S-class materials, unreal build quality, tons of cool gadgets to play with -- all is it should be at this pricing.
The powertrain is great. The car is fast for its weight and there are no hiccups in the powerband. It’s all so refined. It’s not a sports car, but moves along just fine.
The ride is mostly lovely. I say “mostly” because while the suspension feels about perfect, as does body control, there is a bit of jarring over potholes and such. I put that down to the runflat tires. It’s not a huge issue, but it is noticeable.
Other than that, there’s nothing really big to whine about with this 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic sedan.
Like I said, it’s this or the A8 for me. That’s a tough decision. Both would be nice…
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic Sedan is equipped with a 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8.PHOTO BY MERCEDES-BENZ
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: If you truly want the almost eerie flying-carpet feel provided by the imperfection-erasing Magic Body Control system, you’ll have to ditch 4Matic. This is true for both the sedan and coupe; we were told that there’s simply no room to cram the hardware into an all-wheel drive car. I don’t think Benz would miss an opportunity to sell a $3,500 AWD system and a $4,500 suspension control setup on the same car, so I’ll believe them on this.
Anyway, I think this is where a lot of the comments on ride quality come from. The Magic Body Control system – goofy-unnecessary as it may seem -- is, well, sort of magical. Without it, the S-class sedan is just a big, extremely cushy car that doesn’t quite let you forget that there is (in fact) road beneath you.
Not to say that it’s bad without MBC. The interior is luxuriant. Comfy seats with massagers, great material quality anywhere your fingers might wander. Taut, but more opulent than an Audi’s. Can’t compare to a BMW 7-series because I can’t remember the last time I was in one -- are they still in the conversation?
The powertrain/transmission ought to satisfy non-enthusiasts. The right amount of punch for a 4,700-lb vehicle. I haven’t driven the S63 variant, but if it’s anything like the coupe, it’s a good alternative for anyone who wants to spice things up without sacrificing much of the day-to-day drivability or comfort.
If someone forced me to buy an S-class sedan -- what a dreadful position to be in, I know -- I’d have to turn to AMG. There’s no way a younger guy can drive one of these things credibly; even if I were the one making the payments, I’d still be driving Dad’s S-class in the minds of everyone around me.
Now, if I were a 25-year-old Chinese gazillionaire, things might be different. But I’d be riding in the back, then, wouldn’t I?
Our test 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic Sedan topped off at $122,895.PHOTO BY MERCEDES-BENZ
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: Ahhh it turns out I’m not crazy, after all.
As I helmed this 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic along I-75, I was confounded by the impact harshness transferred into the top-shelf cabin by every piece of broken or cracked highway. So much so, in fact, that I began speaking aloud to myself, questioning what was wrong with the suspension. Checking into it afterward (a good lesson in why it’s wise to open the car’s information file prior to driving it … ) I discovered, as Kozak notes, that Magic Body Control is not available on the all-wheel-drive S class. Shame, really.
The MBC-less S-class, do not get me wrong, rides nicely and oozes nothing but luxury from every interior surface and trim piece. Rather, such is MBC’s downright flabbergasting ability to provide “magic carpet” ride quality; it stands proud as one of the new S-class’ defining features. Without it, I have no problem still calling it a great car but not an amazing car. As Wes mentioned briefly, I probably would find myself opting for Audi’s A8 over a non-MBC S-class.
Everything else, though, is exquisite, from the interior lighting to the seats to the quality materials and assembly to the COMAND multimedia interface that controls just about everything you could wish for, and about 10,000 other things you’d probably never think of if your local Mercedes rep didn’t provide a three-hour tutorial prior to you taking delivery.
SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: A whopping $26,000 in options on this and no Magic Body Control. Shame, really, because as anyone who’s experienced the system can attest, it’s seriously the coolest development in vehicle dynamics engineering in a long time, maybe since whoever invented the multilink suspension. I’d forego half of the stuff on this options list to add MBC, if I could. Strike that; I’d pass on the 4Matic version altogether. Call me weird, but it’s just not a priority of mine to have all-wheel drive.
Then again, what you do get for that chunk-o’-options change is a whole lot of things that aren’t priorities for me, which is surprising given that my list of must-haves has grown tenfold since I started doing this job. Might speak to my growing bourgie tendencies, or maybe just to my age, but I definitely put a bigger emphasis on creature comforts and fancy-pants stuff now than I ever did before. There once was a day when a crisp-handling car with a manual transmission was all I needed. Now, not so much. Embarrassing to admit, but there you go.
Anyway, I’d immediately delete the multicontour front seats with massage and ventilation, if I could tease them out of the premium package. Same goes for warmth and comfort package. As much as I like a heated steering wheel, I don’t need all that other stuff bundled with it. And I definitely don’t need cabin perfume. Pew.
Left behind would still be an impeccably put-together car, with an interior as rich as anything out there, and power enough from the twin-turbo V8 to move the near-4,800 pounds without batting an eye. I particularly enjoy the latest version of Mercedes’ COMAND, with its ultra-wide screen, hi-def graphics and super-easy knob interface. Navigating some of the menus is still über clunky, like trying to decipher how to program the radio presets, but for the most part it’s an intuitive system.
There isn’t much about the S-class experience I don’t enjoy. MBC, though, would make it peerless.
Options: 421 sport package plus one including 20-inch AMG multispoke wheels with performance tires, sport bodystyling including front and rear bumpers, side skirts ($6,650); P01 premium package including active ventilated front seats, Keyless-Go with hands-free access, Parktronic with active parking assist, power rear-side window sunshades, active multicontour front seats with message ($4,500); 505 silk beige and espresso brown exclusive napa leather ($4,450); 997 driver assistance package including Distronic plus with steering assist, pedestrian recognition, BAS Plus with cross-traffic assist, presafe plus with rear impact protection ($2,800); 445 warmth and comfort package including heated steering wheel, power outboard rear seats with memory and detachable headrest pillows, heated and active ventilated outboard rear seats, heated front/rear center armrests and heated door armrest ($2,600); 610 night view assist plus ($2,260); 735 exclusive trim package ($950); 727 designo brown sunburst myrtle wood trim ($800); 867 splitview ($710); 585 air balance package including cabin-air purification system with ionizer and dual activated charcoal filters, fragrance atomizer with LED-backlit vial in glovebox ($350).
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