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Mercedes-Benz S-Class unveiled

Close to a quarter of the S-Class sticker price is luxury car tax.

Yes, that's right. The car you buy in 2020 might not be the world's best, it may cost less than one tenth of the least expensive S-Class, but it will include features that debut in the "world's best car" as the new S is inevitably described.

But when you've exposed yourself as much in public as this new generation ultra-luxury car, can there be much left to reveal? Since late last year there have been no less than four minor revelations of the car that every seven years sets the benchmark for ultra-luxury motoring.

It's also the one that by dint of its inevitably new array of technology and features shows the rest of us what can be expected in "real world" cars.

It's all been rather too like Moses descending from the mount and revealing the commandments in a five part serial. Even now no non-Benz person has driven the S-Class except on a simulator. The climax to the saga comes in the first week of July (which Carsguide will bring you from Portugal).

So far we've had the revelations of the lighting system (500 blazing LEDs and not a single bulb), safety systems (including a degree of autonomous driving since made available in the E-Class); the interior (including a workshop on the various perfumes it emits on demand). This week, sans car bra and obscuring lighting, we see the whole thing.

That even this was precipitated by the leaking of full brochures did not deter hundreds of media from all continents and dozens of countries (the most numerous of whom were, tellingly for the luxury car market, Chinese).

Yet if not quite so momentous as an Old Testament episode, the lessons in a new S-Class resonate in the lives of everyone who will buy a new car in the next decade. In previous generations, Benz's flagship has pioneered such staples as airbags, central locking, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability program - the latter finally about to become mandatory across the country.

On sale locally from late August with stickers ranging from some $220,000 for the entry variant up to almost $500,000, the S-Class is not only priced at the level of a (very) small flat, it is more inhabitable than most.

The driver sees two screens, one displaying digitally speed and revs, the other multimedia and sat nav. The back two passengers (this is a massive four seater) have their own screens built into the rear of the front headrests.

The chauffeur needn't wear gloves - the bespoke two spoke steering wheel is heated. The passengers can stick to short sleeves - the armrests too are heated. The climate control of your 2020 car will likely emulate the S-Class's two filter Thermotronic system which includes an ionising system to repel airborne germs and spores.

Less likely to be emulated in your my future car is the plastics, or rather the absence of them. The stunning clarity of the Burmeister stereo has to be heard to be believed - you'll waste doof doof boys at the traffic lights for volume and pace.

If you are intent on living in the thing, the long-wheelbase models can be optioned with seats that recline almost 44 degrees, the most of any car. A further option administers stimulating massages. Yet another option houses two bottles in the rear centre console to chill the Krug. As it's apparently mandatory to drive with vast styrofoam cups of coffee, the cupholders can chill or heat.

A safety feature you can bet on devolving to everyday cars is seatbelts with integrated airbags. No excuse for not buckling up when seatbelt holsters rise automatically to accommodate the buckle.

But as S-Class project spokesman Johannes Reifenrath tells Carsguide, the most profound change is in engines that drive them and the means by which carmakers are so vilified and taxed by government. The S400 Hybrid will use 4.4L/100km in diesel and emit 115 grams of Co2 per km. This is a two tonne limo remember, yet it runs cleaner than almost any car on sale in Australia. It's not yet certified for our part of the world, but Benz spokesman David McCarthy says: "If it is, we'll take it."

And while there's the traditional V8 variant, its comparative thirst is further ameliorated by the S350 BlueTEC's 5.5l/100km - still way better than almost any small hatchback. "When we got to work seriously on this project in 2006, even I did not imagine this would be possible, 115g, not in the S-Class,"  Reifenrath says. "Because we see them constantly, because they are so central to our lives, car use is attacked by politicians.

"But traffic is the cause of 17 per cent of emissions in the world, much less than industry, much less than heating. If everyone progressed as rapidly as the auto industry in terms of reducing its impact." Best car in the world or not, close to a quarter of the S-Class sticker price is luxury car tax.