Review: Mercedes-Benz S550 (W222)

The best or nothing?



Success is something that everyone wants these days. People my age; for example, want to be able to retire by age 40, living in California with no worry about money, married to a model of perfection spouse. This, for some, is the definition of success.


For others, however, success is something a little bit darker. Success is the fruit that one produces, after fighting against all odds. Success isn’t anything material; in fact it is all mental. Success is what led to the acquiring to the Rolex or the mansion. Success is the story behind the fame, the struggles faced to attain it.


For a long time, the Mercedes S-Class has been closely tied together with success. It has been the go to car for everyone successful, from dignitaries to dictators. Two different forms of success, but still success in there own right. The S-Class is the pride and joy of Mercedes-Benz. It is built with Benz’s motto in mind, “The Best or Nothing”. So it should be no surprise that it is tied with success. The question is, can it continue this reign of success with the new 2015 S-Class Well let’s find out…


Exterior:

When looking at the 2015 S-Class from any angle one thing is clear. This car is meant to invoke presence. The muscular bodylines, the razor sharp grills; the big AMG rims all show that this car means business. But then, you notice the piano black trim, the chrome accents in the grill, and of course the upright Mercedes star at the tip of the hood and you think to yourself, man this things got substance; Class! Think of a mafia henchman who is involved in extortion and money laundering. All dressed up in a black suit and tie, but with a Louisville Slugger in his hand and a .44 strapped on his hip. That’s what this S-Class looks like. It’s aggressive, bold, and ready to take on anything that comes at it and yet composed enough to not draw too much attention.


Interior:

As soon as you open the door of the S-Class, you are engulfed in another level of luxury and refinement. The interior design is unique, unlike any car I have ever seen. And man does it flow. All the buttons, knobs, and switches are in the right place (apart from the gear leaver). The touch pad works as you would expect it to work. Swipe to switch songs, pinch to zoom out, and tap to click. It’s superb! And the MBrace system is miles ahead of BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI. It’s fast, simple, and once again just works.


Seating is a treat, but then again this is a S-Class so you’d expect that. The cushions are soft and supportive. Seat heaters are quick and hot and ventilation is cool and quiet. Massage function is a nice touch, but still not OSIM massage chair quality. But it’s the thought that counts right? Headrests are like pillows. Nuff said.


Interior materials are exquisite. Leather is of high quality, as is the wood and metal.  All what you would expect from an S-Class. The steering wheel is a two-spoke design, and is surprisingly very comfortable. The wide openings, and nice thickness of the wheel allow hand placement in many more places when compared to a traditional 3-spoke wheel.


In short, the S-Class does not disappoint in the interior department.


Performance:

The S-Class has always been a multirole vehicle. It could be used to haul around a godfather’s daughter to and from the shops; as well as used to chase down the knob who tried to sleep with said daughter. This is S-Class is no different. When driven with a light foot, this car rivals ride quality of Rolls Royce. It’s that smooth and quiet. But put the foot down and the 4.7-liter Twin-Turbo V8 sings in a baritone voice as it surges towards whomever is in the driver’s crosshairs. Shifts are quick and smooth and the paddle shifters feel nice in the hand. My only complaint in the performance department is that this car does not feel as sporty as it’s counterparts. This could be because of the superb suspension, but I feel that it also has to do with the gear ratio as well.


This is still a quick car, though. Actually, dangerously quick, as you need to monitor your speeds while driving this car. If your doing 100, you will not feel it. And it won’t take long to get up to speed either. Part of this is the amazing 4-Matic system, which provides great power delivery to all 4-wheels.  The rest is from the jackhammer of a V8 under the hood.


The Air-Matic suspension (air suspension) is smooth as butter in the comfort setting, a little rougher in the sport setting, but never sports car rough. Car is tidy through everyday twists and turns, however expect under steer from the 4-Matic version if you really push it.


Performance is just what you would expect from an S-Class. Plentiful.


Technology:

This car is as cutting edge as it gets. There are multiple screens used for the instrument panel and infotainment system. No less than 5 different cameras mounted all around the car. Probably more sensors monitoring the road and the driver than say an emergency room. Enough multicolored LEDs to light up a club. This car is jam packed with tech, and in some ways too much.

Another problem. The S-Class doesn't actually give a range when your fuel level is critically low. This leads to many bottom-clenching moments of terror and possible embarrassment.


The S-Class has always been the leader when it comes to safety. It was the first car to have seatbelts, airbags, and radar-guided cruise control. While this car doesn’t have anything groundbreaking, it does improve upon systems that are already in the market. The active cruise control is smarter and faster, the car can detect pedestrians and other hazards, and it can act before the driver can act. And probably the most impressive feature about this car is that it can drive itself…. for 10 seconds at a time at least. Let me explain. If equipped with the Active Cruise+ package, the S-Class will not only accelerate and brake with traffic, but also steer itself and keep in centered in the lane. That being said, the driver must have a hand on the wheel for the system to stay active. If the hand is removed, the system will continue working for 10 seconds before prompting hand placement on wheel.


I personally tried this system out on the highway, and was a little creeped out by the steering wheeling moving by itself. It works quite well, and I guess it can help assist fatigued drivers. But at the same time, I feel this is just going to make drivers lazier and less attentive. A person could, theoretically, place a hand on the wheel and still use the other hand to use a smartphone, read a book, or fold laundry (as I like to do while I’m driving) all while the car steers and manages the speed. Am I saying that it’s going to promote distracted driving? Let’s just say maybe.


Summary:

Not in any way out of place.

The 2015 S-Class is probably one of the best cars I have driven. It blows the Audi A8l, BMW 7-Series, and the Old S-Class out of the water. It’s a versatile car; cool and composed when driving normally; violent and aggressive when needed to be. It’s refined to the highest degree, over engineered almost. Would I say that the S-Class is a success? Absolutely! Would I say that it is the best or nothing? Well, it’s definitely something.