Pull up to the 7-Eleven in this car and you feel like Leonard Bernstein arriving at Lincoln Center. Ride in the back and you’re escorting Julie Andrews to the Oscars. The doors are substantial enough to repel anything Occupy Wall Street throws at them, and it’s effortlessly powerful enough to outrun any S.E.C. subpoena. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic sedan is so advanced it should be in geosynchronous orbit over Gstaad.
The new S-Class wears hyperbole well. It isn’t merely a new version of Mercedes’s largest sedan, but a technological leap beyond its ancestors. It’s built differently, ambitious in its details and utterly indomitable in how it behaves and performs. It’s not the car of the future, but it’s the car that some car of the future will be measured against.
Yes, it’s luxurious, but concentrating on that is to miss its fundamental brilliance. It’s a new and better Mercedes, but the liturgy is familiar. It’s the only car in the current line that comes only with a traditional radiator shell and tristar hood ornament. The car is too dignified and temperate for a big corporate logo in the middle of its grille.
While the entire skin of the new S-Class is aluminum, a steel cage structure undergirds and supports it. The result, Mercedes asserts, is more rigid and crash-resistant than the previous-generation S-Class, but slightly lighter. At 124.6 inches, the wheelbase carries over from the previous generation and the overall length is still pegged at 2.5 inches beyond 17 feet. And at 4,773 pounds when equipped with the optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, it’s a road-bound dreadnought.