Sorting through Mercedes-Benz’s ever-expanding lineup, it can feel like a never-diminishing bowl of alphabet soup. But as far as the suits in Stuttgart are concerned, there is one letter that matters above all: S.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class exemplifies that rare confluence of driving characteristics, advanced technology, and luxury that embody and lift the automaker’s brand identity. For Mercedes, if the S-Class goes sour, the whole lineup can be damned. The competition is stiff. BMW, Audi, and Lexus have all honed their heavy-hitters; The BMW 750 Li, the Audi A8 L, and the Lexus LS460L all represent each automaker’s take of executive luxury come to fruition. To express this, Mercedes even turned its press release into a 104-page long novella. To save you from pouring through everything, we churned through the press materials and are offering you the cream.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 will debut this September in the U.S., followed by the all-wheel-drive S550 4MATIC in November. The S550 will rely on a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that will produce a considerable 455 hp, with much of that available on the lower end of the power band. And while the S550 is largely about comfort, Mercedes-Benz includes performance in its comfort equation: The 2014 S550 will boast a quick estimated 0-60 mph time of just 4.8 seconds, besting the current model’s 5.4 seconds.
And being the automaker’s purest expression of luxury, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 ups the content and standard features. The new S-Class will be the first car to not contain a single incandescent light bulb, boasting all LED lamps. The in-cabin LED lighting will be available in seven colors, with five dimming levels and four dimming zones. There are two 12.3-inch high-resolution screens for the headunit and instrument cluster.
The 2014 S550 features Mercedes-Benz’s most advanced safety portfolio, with a host of features such as a Brake Assist System that can detect crossing traffic and pedestrians. There’s an active lane-keeping assist feature, a thermal imaging camera has been added to improve the Night View Assist Plus, which can spot the potential danger posed by pedestrians or animals in unlit areas. And if you’re getting drowsy behind the wheel, the Attention Assist will detect this and alert you.
Hot Stone Massage
The S550 wouldn’t be a legitimate luxury car unless it took some liberties with absurdity. There’s a lot of new optional equipment, but our favorite is the “ENERGIZING massage function: based on the hot-stone principle.” Mercedes says seat specialists developed a unique massage function with 14 separately actuated air cushions in the backrest, as well as a warming function. There are six massage programs to choose from, and this feature is available in the rear seats as well. We’ll be sure to test this function thoroughly when we get behind the wheel of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 in early summer. Price and fuel economy have not been released for the U.S. market yet, we expect to have official figures soon. It’s likely the 2014 S550 will be priced starting a little under $100,000. Fuel economy should be similar, or marginally improved over the 2013′s 15 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway.