Mercedes-Benz has always been regarded as the best luxury car brand in India. The German manufacturer’s existence in India has been from the 1950s when the company had first introduced Daimler trucks. This was followed by the three-pointed star passenger cars, which have always been considered as a status symbol in our country. So, with the entry of other luxurious car brands where does the Mercedes-Benz stand today? We find out as we review the flagship model of Mercedes-Benz, the S-class. Highlights: -The S-class stands for “Sonderklasse” in German which means ‘Special Class’. - The S-class which is the flagship model of Mercedes-Benz, was first seen in 1972 (internal code named as W116) which replaced its predecessors which Mercedes-Benz launched in the mid-1950s. - The new S-class (V221) is basically a facelift of the outgoing variant and is only available with a longer wheelbase chassis, where the V stands for longer wheelbase and the regular S-class is codenamed the W221. - A total of 52 LEDs are used in the S-class for the tail lights as well as the indicators and brake lights. good things-- Spacious, ride comfort, quality badthings-- Ageing when compared to competition The basic exterior changes on the new S-class include the new radiator grille, bumpers and the lights. Mercedes-Benz designers have given the front grille a more pronounced arrow shaped, just like the new E-Coupe. The S-class now comes equipped with bi-xenon headlamps as standard. The redesigned front bumper has a discreet light-catching contour and a continuous chrome trim strip below the cooling air intakes. In spite of being the oldest amongst its rivals, the S-class still feels the most extravagant on the inside. It might not be embellished with the frills that its competition come loaded with, but you do get a royal feeling once you step inside. The fit and finish, and the overall plastic quality are definitely top-notch and the doors get sucked-in even if you shut them gently. Everything looks perfectly in place, the four-spoke wooden steering wheel, the large dials in the instrument binnacle, the neatly placed buttons on the centre console and the COMAND system. The leather wrapped seats are large and very comfy for long journeys. There is enough thigh support for the front and rear passengers, with seat ventilation to pamper you. All the four seats can be adjusted for height, thigh support, recline and lumbar. As most of the Indian buyers of the S will spend most of their time in the rear seat, Mercedes-Benz has made sure that no compromise has been made in cosseting them. Mercedes-Benz has the 24-valve, 3498cc, V6, direct-injection petrol engine under the hood of this particular S-class. It develops 272bhp and a maximum torque of 355Nm@4500rpm. It’s a lovely engine this, and we have already experienced it on many other Mercedes-Benz cars like the E-class as well as the new R-class. The V6 motor is peppy, refined and has a sweet exhaust note. The engine is responsive as it propels you away when you depress the throttle pedal. The engine is silent at lower engine speeds; it is absolutely quiet on the inside. When pushed hard, the engine opens its floodgates and the power is almost boundless. The S350 did a zilch to 100kmph in 8.6 seconds and it has electronically limited top speed of 250kmph. The engine is mated to the 7G-tronic automatic gearbox. It’s effortless in its functioning, is the gearbox, when driven peacefully, be it in the city or out on the highway. But, try using it to drive a bit hard, and it disappoints. It’s just too slow and refuses to respond to inputs from the steering mounted paddle shifters and driven completely by the throttle at full clip. You can however use three set-ups for the transmission – comfort, sport and manual. For the manual mode, you get paddle shifts. Mercedes-Benz cars have been known for the comfortable ride they offer and the S being the flagship model gets the best-in-range. The German automaker claims the S350 to have an improved AIRMATIC suspension over the outgoing version. The ride is well composed at low and high speeds as the S350 glides over potholes and bumps without any kind of jarring, giving maximum comfort to the passengers. Considering the fact that the S350 weighs close to 2 tonnes, it does handle well. With the suspension on comfort setting, the S-class does feel floaty, however the response does sharpen when driven in the sport mode. Even in the sport mode, when you encounter sharp bends, the car doesn’t feel light footed. The S350 is built more for comfort and less for corner carving. However, if you do want an S with extraordinary handling characteristics there’s always the S65 AMG very much available in India! The Mercedes-Benz S350 at Rs 86.77 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) might sound to be a bit expensive if you consider the price tag and the features it comes loaded with. Although there are other luxury brands which offer cars with more bells and whistles than the Mercedes-Benz, but it’s the aura and comfort offered by the S which makes it the best-seller in its class, despite being the oldest of the lot.