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Cooley On Cars
2014 Mercedes S550The all-new Mercedes S Class resets the bar for car technology.
I'll admit it, this all new S-class is quite a thing to be hold, I mean these are always flagships, but this new one, it's like it found the table full of technology at the Mercedes building and gorged on all of it. Did they get it right? Or did they just get it big? Let's drive this 2014 S550 and check the tech. Now first off, this new S is bad news for atheist, its proof there is a God, because they got rid of those crappy looking [unk] tune fenders that made the last car look like a Mazda 3. Now spotting a new S-class is easy as from the front, big deep aggressive grill-- looks really hot to be honest and now you've got an LED eye brow above the headlight as oppose to below on the outgoing cars, so easy to pick one out of a crowd. Speaking of those LEDs, Mercedes says this is the first car in production that has no filament light bulbs at all-- 56 LEDs make up the headlights, 35 make up the taillights, and 300 are in the cabin. Now this could be the first car we've driven that totally eschews anything but LCD displays. Everything is communicated via these two 12.3-inch 8:3 ratio LCD panels. Now right off the bat, look at that map-- that is amazing. This is proof of a maximum technology that sometimes things get faster enough or bigger enough, that they actually hit a limit and they change. Every road is there, every new ones of it, and you really get a sense of where you are and what roads coming up next. No other system really pulls that together like this. The bigger issue is the tech stuff that is in here, there's a lot of it scattered all over the place particularly when you get to media. Radio, has your radio stations and you have to go through this almost sort of needless screen change to get to them. It's pretty, but it takes time of my eyes off the road. Then for your non-radio sources, you go to media. Now a lot of car companies segregate other sources under media, but I think for an all new design like this S-class, they should think more progressively and start putting all media together in one place. But then when you wanna get into your internet media sources, you'd go to yet a third menu, which of course is your phone and address book but also the internet stuff which lives under here. And under that submenu, you'll find Mercedes Benz Apps, but there's also internet radio under there and then there's a WWW thing which is a browser but doesn't work when you're driving. Lot of familiar things here, Google Local Search, POI Downloads, weather, traffic cameras is new in this car. You can get a look at where traffic cameras are and look at them for the road ahead. Tune-in radio, I don't recall that being in a Benz interface before, Yelp we've seen before and of course gas stations and movies. A lot of what's on this interface has to do with the seats. You can adjust the sides of the back rest-- you can adjust to position to lumbar, same thing with the shoulder region. Massage has been in there for a long time, but now instead of just having levels of intensity, they've gone into like types of massage. You have a seat heating balance control and thank goodness you can reset the whole thing when you get lost. But one of the things I've always hated in Mercedes is this little vestigial weird number keypad-- who has this anymore? They finally made it useful by turning it into a touch pad. The problem is it's very big, the touch isn't well calibrated and as you can see, I can easily touch two stations or even more at a time and of course whatever you're listening to comes to a high-end audio system in this car including a couple of choices of Burmester audio systems, which suffer primarily from the unfortunate coincidence, if they look at a glance, just like a Budweiser logo. I had three passengers getting here and say, "When did Bud get into car audio?" and they weren't kidding. It of course sounds great. I won't say it's less filling, but it definitely is one of those where I have to wonder how much money can you put into a car audio system before you no longer hear it, but basically see it-- I would check this out. Up here in the glove box is a little bottle of stink water. This thing is a perfume that will get injected into the air conditioning and ventilation system on demand. There's a menu for this as well, the intensity of it. The key to what Mercedes says, different to those little $4 ones you get in the car wash, is this will not stain your interior. So once you turn it off, it dissipates and goes away. They name all the sense as moods including one called Free Side Mood that disturbingly sounds like there will be a child conceived in the back seat at some point. In the back of our S550 it's relatively spartan, believe it or not, because we haven't got all the options which could include this executive top of tables like you have in business class, screens that let you echo the navigation screen, like on an airplane, and of course all manner of additional massage and heating and cooling. But even though we're kinda slumming it back here the bear doesn't care, it got plenty of room for him. Dual panorama sunroof back here, but I gotta point this out, it's actually broken up and smaller than only just had on a Jetta Wagon, so it's not bad but it's not the best. Back around these seats and also all around the cabin you've got this funky club mood lighting back here. This kinda goes with the whole perfume and the glove box theme. Five colors you can select from, different levels of intensity, different levels of absurdity. One day, I wanna be a Mercedes mechanic, only because they have the most spacious offices. Underneath these hoods it open perpendicular, I love that. Here we find a relatively normal Mercedes story, a twin turbo V8, one turbo on each bank, 4.7 liter displacement, direct injection, sophisticated variable valve timing. The output is 455 horsepower, 516 foot pounds of torque, great torque because it's a V8 and because it's got turbos on it. Zero to 60 for this 4,300-pound Sedan comes up in a very quick 4.8 seconds. One choice on the gearbox, seven-speed automatic, a real automatic not a dual-clutch or anything like that. The MPG numbers on this guy are still TVD as of our shoot today but we're guessing 18:30, which will be roughly 20 percent better on both counts than the outgoing S-class with the similar engine, that's what Mercedes promises anyway. Now self parking is nothing new in cars these days, but self parking something this big in a space we've setup this tight, this should be fun. All right, the little blue icon tells me it's looking for parking. I'm looking for a white diamond alongside it that says it's found a space big enough to put this thing in. There it is, put it in reverse. Okay self parking and here we go. This is when you really appreciate active parking, not with a small car, with a big car that you're pretty sure you couldn't park yourself, at least not two times in a row. But we are really close to that bumper. Okay, time to cut in, let's see how it does. That looks close, isn't that looks close? Coming back, I don't hear any curve rash, feel like I'm about to-- select drive. Look at that, hard right nibbling, nibbling going to the front here. Select reverse and let's mop up and finish-- very nice. Okay, first thing I'm gonna do is come to a stop. Why start with a stop? Because I wanna see how this Auto Start-Stop technology has been refined. Engine shuts down, I did not detect that. If I wasn't watching the tech, I wouldn't have known it and the restart almost as imperceptible, quick and barely shaking the car. Finally, someone's getting Start-Stop done in a way that befits a car of this refinement. Now, these cars can be equipped so that they will actually self drive up to the mid 30-mile per hour range, like in traffic, they'll follow the car in front, they'll handle acceleration, braking and steering. I'll be honest, I never really got it to work in my driving with the car, dido goes for the lane departure tech, that was on and off as well. But my colleague, Wayne Cunningham, says it worked up pretty well for him, combine that with the fact this is a pre-production car and I'm gonna withhold judgment on both those technologies 'till later. This car does two things really well. First of all, it showcases an awful lot of technology most of which is not silly gimmickry. It's a good state-of-the-art showcase. Secondly, it also takes the S-class brand and I think makes it much more progressive. This doesn't feel like such an old built car anymore from the interior design to the exterior design to the fact that it has a lot of really interesting technology that's pretty much all well done.