Dimensions: larger, more comfortable and even more luxurious
The new flagship model by Mercedes Benz is larger than its predecessor in every respect. There is a choice of two body lengths - 5076 or 5206 mm - which is 33 and 43 mm, respectively, more than the previous S-Class. The wheelbase has increased by 70/80 mm to 3035 and 3165 mm, respectively. The body is also 16 mm wider and 29 mm higher than before.
These new dimensions create the conditions for an interior concept which provides every single passenger with first-class comfort. Interior parameters such as shoulder-room and elbow-room have increased by up to 39 mm, while headroom has again improved by up to 5 mm. Rear seat passengers in the long-wheelbase version benefit from a greater distance between the seats (+10 mm) and more knee-room (+11 mm) compared to the preceding series. The capacity of the boot has increased by 60 litres to 560 litres (VDA measuring method).
Luxurious exotic wood and chrome trim, attractively contoured controls in aluminium and carefully coordinated colours characterise the atmosphere in the interior, producing an immediate feeling of wellbeing. The dashboard with its sophisticated, sweeping lines is yet another masterpiece by Mercedes designers, for whom form and function are ideals which share equal status. Accordingly the cockpit not only conveys a feeling of safety, but is also extraordinarily well laid-out and practical - from the very first moment, man and vehicle enter into a harmonious relationship in the new S-Class.
Operating concept: colour displays, direct-selection switches and COMAND controller
That is also assured by the newly developed and thoroughly tested operating concept. This is based on findings from extensive ergonomic and perceptive psychology studies, and also takes into account the results of acceptance tests with Mercedes customers around the world.
The major characteristic of the intelligent operating concept in the new S-Class is rapid access to functions which are used particularly frequently. The system is therefore specifically designed for redundancy: depending on preferred habits, the driver is able to control functions such as the radio, TV-receiver, CD/DVD changer, telephone and navigation system either using conventional switches, via buttons on the multifunction steering wheel or with the help of the improved COMAND system. The direct-selection switches in the centre console are so ergonomically positioned that the driver is able to operate them conveniently and without looking down. It is also possible to operate the standard automatic climate control system in two different ways: via COMAND or using an attractively styled array of switches beneath the air vents.
The steering wheel and instrument cluster are the primary areas in the new operating concept. These integrate all the important information and functions required by the driver. The centrepiece is a colour screen with the latest display technology for a bright, crystal-clear image. The lower edge of the cockpit display has a plain-text array with which up to seven main menus for individual settings, display modes and operating functions can be controlled, depending on the level of equipment. For rapid selection of these functions Mercedes Benz has developed the controls on the standard multifunction steering wheel further, using circular, illuminated five-way buttons which the driver operates by light thumb pressure.
Another new feature which improves operating convenience and allows a modern cockpit design is DIRECT SELECT - electronic control of the standard 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission by nudging an attractively styled lever on the right of the steering column. Thanks to this technology, Mercedes engineers were able to dispense with the usual selector lever on the centre console and redesign the tunnel covering.
The innovative "Cockpit Management and Data System" - COMAND for short - has likewise been redesigned and now offers even more features. In addition to the familiar telematics and audio units, various vehicle functions which previously required individual switches have now been integrated into the system. The central operating unit is the new COMAND controller on the transmission tunnel. It is used to select the main and sub-menus with which the required functions are activated. If a car phone is fitted ex factory, the padded handrest behind the controller can be flipped up to reveal the telephone keypad.
The large COMAND colour display is positioned at the same height as the instrument cluster, and therefore even more favourably within the field of vision of the driver and front passenger. A new operating concept, up-to-date colours and clear, photo-quality graphics also make the menu selection procedure a gratifying visual experience.
The COMAND system in the new S-Class includes a radio, CD/DVD player and a port for computer memory cards (PCMCIA cards) as standard. Fitted as standard to all UK specification S-Class will be the latest generation of COMAND with a Europe-wide navigation system. This latest version stores the mapping data on a hard drive, allowing even faster route calculation than before.