The year 2014 was a year of surprises for me. For starters, there’s the ST-Torque Car of the Year, the BMW i3, which turned out to be more brilliant than I could ever have imagined. Then there’s the Porsche Macan, which again turned out to be more brilliant than I could ever have imagined.
But the biggest surprise was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. While I have great respect for the S-Class, particularly the sinuously beautiful W108-generation S-Class designed by Paul Bracq and the “Teutonic tank” W140 model, I can’t say the same for the W220 and its successor, the W221.
To me, the previous two S-Class models were a step backwards for the three-pointed star, as they are painfully ah pek in terms of design and dynamics. Yes, I’m aware luxury limos are hardly paragons of handling, but there really is no excuse for one to feel like an overweight oil tanker.
But I had high hopes for the latest-generation S-Class. Even in pictures, the W222 looks gorgeous – posessed of the stateliness that an S-Class should have, plus a dramatic, opulent interior (particularly its twin-spoke steering wheel that’s supposed to echo big Benzes of old).
And I haven’t yet gotten to the way it drives. It has an incredibly pliant ride, as you would expect an S-Class to have, but that’s only a part of its charm. It has a remarkably well-sorted chassis that, like a faithful butler, takes whatever you can throw at it with aplomb. Sure, there are limits to its ability, but it’s more keen than any luxo barge has any right to being.
However, the best part about the S-Class is how little complaints I have about it. There’s no such thing as a perfect car, but the new S-Class comes painfully close.