Some cars are just cars — a way to get from point A to point B — but some cars are more. They set the tone for their respective segments, establishing benchmarks for others to follow. The vehicle we’re about to talk about is one of those chosen few, and after you take a look at our five favorite Mercedes-Benz S-Class technologies, we think you’ll agree.
We recently had a chance to sample the 2018 lineup in Germany, specifically the crown jewel of the lot, the Mercedes-AMG S 63 4Matic+. It’s an incredibly quick vehicle that happens to be as luxurious as a five-star hotel, but it’s really the tech that gets our blood pumping. Here’s the best the S-Class has to offer.
Energizing Comfort Control
Energizing Comfort Control is one of the most opulent, inventive, and, quite frankly, silly features we’ve ever seen in a production car. The system exists to improve passenger wellness above all else, and it does this by networking the vehicle’s climate controls, music, seat heating, massage programs, ambient lighting, and air fragrances together. There are six programs in total — Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort, and Training — each with its own soundtrack, scent, and end goal. Vitality, for instance, cues up a fast song and activates your muscles with an energizing massage, while the computer selects one of the 64 ambient light choices best suited for your mood. It’s all very avant-garde, and a fitting addition to the most respected luxury car in the world.
Automotive tech exists on an incredibly broad spectrum, which brings us to our next feature. Instead of showering you with spa-like delights, Mercedes’ semiautonomous Intelligent Drive system allows the S-Class to (nearly) drive itself in some situations, all thanks to enhanced radar systems, cameras, and software being installed for the 2018 model year. What does this mean in practice? The luxury car is much more adept at steering, accelerating, and braking without input from the driver; it even adjusts its speed ahead of corners by leveraging navigation data. That’s not all, though. The vehicle can now change lanes automatically with a nudge of the indicator stalk, so long as its sensors deem it safe to do so. It’s not a fully self-driving car, but with performance like this, the autonomous future doesn’t seem so far off.
You may not have expected to see launch control in a 4,400-pound Mercedes, but here we are. Exclusive to the AMG S-Class models, Race Start “ensures the best possible acceleration from a standing start,” according to the automaker, allowing the S 63 4Matic+ to reach 60 miles per hour in a cool 3.5 seconds. Simply flip the car into the Sport or Sport+ driving mode, stand on the brake, mash the gas, and the computer will do the rest. When the brake pedal is depressed, 664 pound-feet of torque rocket the car forward without drama, bathed in the beautiful soundtrack of a hand-built AMG V8.
Also exclusive to the AMG models is a trick feature called curve-tilting. Designed for maximum comfort at high speeds (we’re looking at you, Autobahn commuters), curve actually tilts the S-Class’ body to the inside of corners by 2.65 degrees, reducing the effects of lateral g-forces on the passengers. It’s just making the car smoother in essence, but the amount of forethought and processing speed necessary to do that should not be understated.
Curve-tilting is active at speeds between 9 mph and 112 mph. The cameras mounted on the vehicle also recognize bumps in the road, and will adjust the suspension dampers in anticipation, making your ride as comfortable as possible.
Variable all-wheel drive
The S 63 4Matic+ comes standard with all-wheel drive, but the AMG-tuned setup is a far cry from the systems you’ll find on normal commuter cars. 4Matic+ is constantly variable, meaning the torque distribution between the front and rear axle is not set. This allows the vehicle to send 100 percent of its power to the front or rear if necessary, and the transition is impossible to detect. That means the S 63 can divide its 603-horsepower output equally between all four wheels to maintain traction, but the next moment, it will exhibit the characteristics of a rear-wheel drive car. This is possible through the use of an electromagnetic clutch that constantly adapts to road conditions, traction, and driver behavior. It sounds great on paper, but like many elements of the S-Class, it’s even better in practice.
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