Good. Better. S-Class.

By Guilherme Marques

This week I drove the best car in the world. No, not the Rolls Royce Phantom, because no one can buy that; nor the Ferrari 458 Italia, although it is the greatest supercar on sale right now – but where do you put the kids?

Outside my door this week you would have found a Mercedes S-Class. Now let’s get one thing straight: the Mercedes S-Class is the best car in the world because it is the best ‘normal’ car you can buy. A Rolls Royce is not a normal car, nor is a 458. The S-Class is very normal, it is ‘just’ a Mercedes, but because it is the best Mercedes, it is something exceptional.

My only problem with the S-Class – and, curiously enough, with the Ferrari 458 Italia – is that I find it impossible to put into words what it is like to drive or ride in one.

I tell myself that it must have more to do with how special they feel than with my lack of vocabulary. But they really feel special and altogether different from all of their rivals. Just opening the door and sitting inside a Mercedes S-Class is an experience that has absolutely nothing to do with sitting in, say, an E-Class. And, don’t get me wrong, the E-Class is great.

S-Class, but I sure loved the night vision system, a camera that recognizes people and animals that you cannot see in the dark, the Active Body Control system, which makes the car seem like a cloud over the worst roads possible, or the Distronic Plus, the radar controlled cruise control that would basically drive for you if legislation permitted it.

Our S-Class was the L(ong) version, at nearly 5.30 metres. It came with the best selling engine around these parts, the V6 diesel putting out 258 horse power. Mercedes says it will average 5.6 litres. That is a tad optimistic of course, but you can easily get 8 litres from it, which is fantastic for a two-tonne car. And now, let me tell you what I found to be the most fantastic thing about the S I drove.

It costs €149,219, including almost €35,000 in optional extras. You think it’s expensive? That is because you haven’t sat in one yet. The S-Class is not expensive. It is better than that.