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Mercedes-Benz S-Class


Alfa Romeo Giulia

Summary

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

It's only in the running for the title of world's best luxury car. No biggie here, then.

Like Rolex and Concorde, S-Class has become a byword for ultimate, and deserved or not, the Mercedes-Benz defines its segment despite the best efforts of the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Lexus LS and (sadly now-defunct) Jaguar XJ, as well as pointing the way forward with new technologies that eventually trickle down to more proletarian models.

Replacing the half-million selling W222 unveiled in 2013, the W223 is the latest in a long line since the first W187 Ponton debuted in 1951, and includes the famous ‘Finnies' and Stroke-8 models that followed immediately afterwards, but it is the 1972 W116 that really set the template.

Now, seven generations in, the 2021 S-Class is all-new again, with progressive safety and interior features that should help keep it Australia's bestselling full-sized upper-luxury sedan.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo was poised to rock the established mid-size luxury sedan segment back in 2017 when it launched the Giulia, firing a direct salvo at the big Germans.

Combining drop-dead gorgeous looks with peppy performance was the name of the game for the Giulia, but after arriving with much hype and fanfare, Alfa Romeo doesn’t seem to have conquested as many sales as they had originally hoped.

So far this year, Alfa Romeo has sold just 142 Giulias, well behind the segment leading Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, but a new mid-life update hopes to revitalise interest in the Italian sedan.

The refreshed line-up brings in more standard equipment and sharper pricing, but has Alfa done enough to sway you out of a tried and trusted German sports sedan?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.9L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz S-Class8.5/10

Mercedes-Benz set out to restore the S-Class' place amongst the greatest sedans in the world.

In the heavily-optioned, near-$250K-plus S450 as well as the extended S450L at $300K as tested (the sweet spot of the range for now), we reckon the Germans have succeeded, pushing safety, comfort and technology boundaries, in a package that is true to the heritage of the series.

Tax-fuelled sky-high prices will certainly keep the S-Class niche in Australia, but the car is more than good enough to dominate its tiny corner of the upper-large luxury car sphere.

The best new car in the world? We reckon it's highly likely. Mission accomplished, Mercedes.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7.9/10

This is the Giulia Alfa Romeo should have launched back in 2017.

Especially stacked up against its German rivals, the new Giulia is not only more attractive to the eye, but also the hip pocket.

The boost in standard equipment and safety gear is a huge boon for potential Alfa buyers, while no compromises are found in the Giulia’s fun-to-drive nature and peppy engine.

Its weakest aspect might be its average three-year warranty, but if you are looking for a new premium mid-size sedan that stands out from the crowd without any major concessions, the Giulia should be on your watch list.

Design

Mercedes-Benz S-Class7/10

Most Mercedes models have followed the Russian Doll-style cookie-cutter styling theme, and the heavy family look continues with the W223.

Still, the flush door handles do add a touch of Tesla-esque modernity, while the elegant silhouette and clean lines are in keeping with the luxury aspirations. Larger in every dimension compared to the old W222, the S450 is some 71mm-longer in wheelbase (3106mm) than before while the LWB's has stretched out by 51mm (3216mm), benefiting proportions as well as interior packaging.

AMG-branded wheels look sporty but – in the S450 at least – they're perhaps a tad too gangster. A set of flush alloys would give it a more-modern and techier appearance, in our opinion.

Overall, however, the S-Class ‘7' possesses the prerequisite richness of design. It isn't as bold and mould-breaking as models like the W116 were back in their day, but the styling is still a success.

By the way, the latest S-Class is the first Mercedes to employ the MRA2 longitudinal platform, which is rich in lightweight steels (50 per cent aluminium), is correspondingly stronger than before but also 60kg lighter.

With a drag co-efficiency rating as low as 0.22Cd on some overseas grades, the W223 is one of the most aerodynamic production vehicles in history.


Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10

Park a brand-new 2020 Giulia next to its predecessor, and you’ll find they look identical from the outside.

It would be a bit unfair to call this update a ‘facelift’, but we’re glad Alfa Romeo hasn’t messed with the sharp styling of its Giulia sedan.

Having been on sale in Australia since early 2017, the Giulia doesn’t look like it has aged a day. In fact, we reckon it has gotten a bit better with age, especially in its top-spec Quadrifoglio trim.

With a triangular front grille and the number plate offset to side, the Giulia looks unique relative to anything else on the road, and we appreciate its distinctive styling.

The angular headlights also add to the Giulia’s aggressive and sporty stance, even in its base Sport trim, while the 19-inch wheels help fill the arches and give a sense of a more expensive car.

The handsome look continues to the rear, with the sculpted derriere looking taught and tight like a well-tailored pair of suit pants rather than some ill-fitting, off-the-shelf trousers.

However, we will point out the black plastic on the underside of the bumper on our base Giulia Sport, which looks a tad cheap with only a single exhaust outlet on the left, and a sea of… nothing.

Stepping up to the more expensive (and more potent) Veloce or Quadrifoglio remedies this however, with a proper diffuser and dual and quad outlets respectively.

The Giulia certainly stands out amongst the sea of Mercedes, BMW and Audi models in the executive sedan segment, and proves that doing your own thing can be hugely satisfying.

Combine the stylish exterior with more colour options – like the new 'Visconti Green' – and you can really make your Giulia pop, though we do wish our test car was finished in a more exciting hue.

With this Vesuvio Grey option, the Giulia blends in a bit too closely to the greys, blacks, whites and silvers you usually see on premium mid-size sedans, but all colours aside from white and red attract a $1355 premium.

Inside, much of the interior carries over as before, but Alfa Romeo has moved things a little more upmarket thanks to a few small touches that add up to a big difference.

The centre console area, while not being redesigned, has been given more of a premium makeover thanks to a carbon-fibre-like trim with aluminium and gloss-black highlights.

The shifter, especially, feels great thanks to the dimpled leather design, while other touch points such as the multimedia control, drive select and volume knobs also deliver a weightier, more substantial sensation.

Aside from that, the Giulia retains its premium cabin materials, soft-touch multi-function leather steering wheel and mixed material finish for an elegant and sophisticated interior worthy of a premium European model.

Our test car was kitted out with the standard black interior, but more adventurous buyers can opt for tan or red – the latter of which would definitely be our pick.

Practicality

Mercedes-Benz S-Class10/10

For the beginning of our day with the S-Class, we were chauffeured from home to a mansion in Kew, a blue-chip Melbourne suburb. Our heavily-optioned S450L featured most of the aforementioned extras – including the Business Class Package and Rear Entertainment Package – and the experience was predictably, sumptuously memorable.

Reclining individual rear seats with easy-reach tablets, armrests offering access to all multimedia and available climatised and massaging cushions and backrests... we're no longer in our normal ride, Toto.

Yet, all these trinkets and gizmos are mere add-ons, that can turn a stretched Caprice into a flash hen's night carriage if enough money and glitz is thrown at it.

No, the new S-Class must impress in an altogether less tangible and more philosophical manner, involving all the senses, and not just what we see, hear and touch. It must appeal beyond the superficial. Otherwise, it is not a large Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan in the classic manner.

This is a Herculean task for the Stuttgart designers and engineers. By and large, though, the Three-Pointed Star has succeeded in achieving something special.

In its perception of peerless quality and engineering, the W223 is striving to move forward and look back simultaneously to the glory days of the seminal W126 (1980-1991). This is through meshing traditional virtues like solidity and quality materials while dazzling its passengers with technology that is still friendly enough to want to enhance your experience.

You can sink into the soft lounge seats, watch the world pass by silently outside and never be aware of the road underneath or the engine ahead. Double glazing, exquisite and aromatic fabrics and materials and lush tactile surfaces work their magic inside the car, while an airtight and aero body, solid platform, air suspension and a muted yet muscular powertrain all do their thing underneath. The atmosphere is special and rarefied. That's what an S-Class needs to be and that's what is happening in our $299,000 (as tested) S450L.

The same more-or-less applies up front, as the same trim, leather, wood and technology surrounds the driver and passenger. The spectre of the car that is surely The Car of the Last Decade – Tesla's Model S – is evident in the portrait touchscreen and sparse, almost wallflower dashboard design and layout. No big imposing architectures here.

Yet, while the American upstart actually takes stuff away, the S-Class packs the cabin with subtle features that – like when the planes stopped flying last year and the birdsong subsequently returned – only become obvious once the cabin's design simplicity clears all the white noise for you to be in a better frame of mind to enjoy them.   

Take the haptic interface, for example, as it is perhaps the best we've experienced; the sense of well-being garnered from the cumulative effects of profound seat comfort (the massaging function was never switched off), cocooning micro climate environmental control, orchestral levels of audio entertainment and the theatre of light and vision performed by the two available screens; it is an automotive experience like no other. And the eye-tracking 3D-effect navigation set within the electronic instrumentation. No need for cinematic glasses to get the effect. The driving position itself, by the way, is also first class.

Room to stretch and grow for sure, and in every direction. But room for improvement? You betcha.

Your tester had a headache after a little while staring at that woozy 3D map. The central vents – four at the front, two in the rear – look and feel cheap, leaving us mentally redesigning them; they are frightfully out of place here; the carryover column-stalk auto lever should have been binned in 2005. And, even though the digital instruments have a number of options, none are elegant enough for the S-Class. That's an especially subjective criticism, clearly, but one that – in the context of classic Mercedes luxury sedan contenders – is justified given how timeless the Bruno Sacco era of Daimler design was. Look him up, kids.

Still, after a couple of hours behind the wheel, with our senses reset to calm, it is obvious that the S-Class cabin is a unique and wonderful place – as it should be at a cool quarter-of-a-million dollars.

Job done.

PS At 550 litres (20L more than before), the boot is massive and luxurious enough to sleep in.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Measuring 4643mm long, 1860mm wide, 1436mm tall, and with a 2820mm wheelbase, the Giulia offers plenty of room for passengers, front and rear.

The sports front seats are an especially pleasant place to be; tight-hugging, well-bolstered and super supportive, meaning no fatigue even after extended driving trips.

Storage solutions though, are somewhat limited.

The door pockets won’t accommodate a bottle of any size thanks to the armrest design, while the two centre cupholders are positioned as such that a bottle will block climate controls.

A generous storage cubby can be found under the centre armrest though, and the wireless charger design lays your device almost vertically in a separate compartment so you won’t scratch your screen.

Glove box size is standard, but the owner’s manual does eat into room a little, while driver’s also have access to another small cubby to the right of the steering wheel.

At least Alfa now includes a handy key fob holder to the left of the shifter? Though this feature becomes redundant with keyless entry and push-button start meaning you more likely just to leave the keys in your pocket.

The rear seats offer plenty of head-, leg- and shoulder-space for passengers in the outboard seats, even when the front seat is set to my 183cm (6'0") frame, but the door pockets are, again, disappointingly small.

I fit adequately in the middle seat, but wouldn’t want to be there for any extended period of time due to the transmission tunnel eating into the footwell.

Rear passengers have access to a fold-down armrest with cupholders, dual air vents and a single USB port.

Opening the boot of the Giulia reveals enough space to swallow 480 litres, matching the 3 Series’ volume and outclassing the C-Class (425L) and A4 (460L).

This is enough for one large and one small suitcase, with a bit of room in the sides for smaller items, while four luggage tie-down points are located  on the floor.

The boot also features latches to fold down the rear seats, but given they aren’t spring loaded, you still need to push them down with something long or walk around to the rear seats to flip them over.

Alfa Romeo has not revealed volume with the seats folded down, but we noticed the aperture into the cabin is noticeably narrow and quite shallow.

Price and features

Mercedes-Benz S-Class8/10

Right now, only two S-Class models are available – the S450 from $240,700 plus on-road costs and the 110mm extended-wheelbase S450L (LWB) for another $24,900 on top. Most buyers overwhelmingly opt for the latter.

Despite what the numbers may suggest, both are powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo petrol engine, delivering 270kW of power and 500Nm of torque to all four wheels via a nine-speed torque-converter automatic. Greater choices are coming later, including an all-electric version known as the EQS.

Almost every conceivable safety item is standard on the S-Class, including world-first rear-seat airbags located behind the front seats in the LWB model, taking the surround-airbag count to 10.

You'll also find route-based Speed Adaptation (adhering to the posted speed limits), Evasive Steering Assist (a sophisticated form of crash mitigation), adaptive cruise control with active stop/go, Active Lane Change Assist that automatically moves the car into the lane you indicate to), Mercedes' PreSafe crash-preparation tech that primes all the safety systems for impact, electronic stability program that encapsulates all the active driver-assist tech, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking front and rear (including for cyclists and pedestrians), Traffic Sign Assist, Parking Package with Active Parking Assist and 360-degree camera and tyre pressure monitors.

On the equipment front there is the latest iteration of Mercedes' MBUX multimedia system with (another) world-first 3D display, complementing an OLED central display, powered closing doors, leather upholstery, air suspension, leather upholstery, velour floor mats, a multi-beam LED headlight system with adaptive high beams, heated and folding exterior mirrors, heat and noise-insulating acoustic glass for front side windows, dark privacy glass for rear windows, sunroof, roller sunblinds for rear windows, metallic paint and 20-inch AMG alloy wheels on runflat tyres.

Want cutting-edge multimedia? There's MBUX II's augmented reality for navigation and fingerprint scanner, as well as a more natural-speech Mercedes-Me Connect voice activation with global search.

Plus, predictive navigation with live traffic, parked vehicle locator, vehicle tracking, emergency call, maintenance management and tele-diagnostics, digital radio, Burmester 3D surround-sound system with 15 speakers and 710W amplifier, remote door locking/unlocking, geofencing, speed-fencing, valet parking, head-up display, Smart Phone integration with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless charging, ambient lighting, two-zone climate control, poplar wood trim, electric adjustment for front seats, steering column with memory function, climatised front seats, keyless entry/go with flush-fitting door handles offering hands-free access (including for the electric boot),

Besides the ‘forward facing' airbag for the rear-seat occupants, the S450L also scores electrically adjustable rear seats with memory and automatic rear climate control.

Key options – and the list is massive – include an $8700 Rear Entertainment Package, that brings rear-multimedia access, rear tablets with wireless headsets and rear-seat wireless smart phone charging, an AMG Line pack with a body kit, different alloys and larger front brakes ($6500), Business Class Package that includes aircraft-style reclining rear seating and tray tables ($14,500), Nappa leather ($5000), augmented-reality HUD ($2900), 21-inch wheels ($2000) and four-wheel steering ($2700). There's also a $14,500 Energising Package with contoured seating, heated-everything and massaging seats.

Please keep in mind our test cars featured many such extras. Tick all the boxes and you can add nearly $100,000 to the price of your S-Class.

So, is the S450 good value? Given some of the breakthrough safety and luxury features it offers, it is unique. Too bad the Federal Government's Luxury Car Tax makes them so much more expensive than they need to be.


Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10

The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia has been trimmed down from four variants to just three, kicking off with the $63,950 Sport.

The mid-tier Veloce will set buyers back $71,450, while the top-spec Quadrifoglio is $138,950 – both of which have been reduced by $1450 and $6950, respectively.

Though the point-of-entry is higher than before, the newly introduced Sport grade is actually based on the old Super grade with the Veloce pack added in, actually saving buyers a bit of money compared to be before.

As such, privacy glass, red brake calipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, and sports seats and steering wheel are now standard across the range, and all items that you’d expect in a premium and sporty European sedan.

You'll also score heating for the front seats and steering wheel, which are you wouldn't normally see on any price-leading variant, making these features especially noticeable.

Also standard in the Sport is bi-xenon headlights, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and aluminium pedals and dashboard elements.

Handling multimedia duties is an 8.8-inch screen, though this year the system gains touch functionality to make Android Auto and Apple CarPlay use a little more intuitive.

A wireless smartphone charger is also now standard across the line-up, which will stop your phone’s charge at 90 per cent as to not overheat/degrade your device’s battery.

As tested here, our Giulia Sport is priced at $68,260 thanks to the inclusion of the 'Lusso Pack' ($2955) and 'Vesuvio Grey' metallic paint ($1355).

The Lusso Pack adds active suspension, premium Harman Kardon sound system and interior ambient lighting, while a dual-pane panoramic sunroof can also be optioned for an extra $2255.

Overall, the Giulia is much better value than it was before thanks to its improved equipment levels, especially when stacked up against base versions of its rivals.

Engine & trans

Mercedes-Benz S-Class9/10

Where are the V8s?

Right now, the only W223 you can buy is powered by an all-new 2999cc 3.0-litre in-line direct-injection six-cylinder turbo petrol engine dubbed the M256, complete with double overhead cams, an electric compressor intercooler and assistance from a 48-volt mild hybrid system and integrated starter-generator, adding 16kW and 250Nm to the 270kW of power at 6100rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1600-4500rpm.

The 9G-Tronic torque-converter automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive system combination is a first for the S-Class in Australia.

Top speed is limited to 250km/h, while the 0-100km/h sprint-time takes just 5.1 seconds in both models. Impressive for a two-tonne-plus luxury limo.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Powering the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport is a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine tuned to deliver 147kW at 5000rpm and 330Nm from 1750rpm.

Mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and driving the rear wheels, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport is claimed to accelerate from 0-100km in 6.6 seconds, while top speed is capped at 230km/h.

Though those outputs might not seem like much in 2020, the driver-focused, rear-drive layout and brisk acceleration time are more than a match for its petrol-powered German counterparts.

Buyers wanting a bit more performance can also opt for the Veloce grade that takes the 2.0-litre engine to 206kW/400Nm, while the Quadrifoglio uses a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 good for 375kW/600Nm.

Fuel consumption

Mercedes-Benz S-Class7/10

With the aid of the mild-hybrid system, the S450 returned a combined average of an impressive 8.2 litres per 100km, which translates to 187 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre. 95 RON premium unleaded (or higher) is recommended. In the urban run it consumes 11.3L/100km (11.5 for S450L), and just 6.4L/100km (6.5 for S450L) in the extra-urban result.

At 76 litres, the fuel tank will allow a combined average range of about 927km between refills.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Officially, the Alfa Romeo Giulia will sip 6.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, but our weekend with the car yielded a much higher 9.4L/100km figure.

Test driving consisted of navigating the tight inner-city streets of Melbourne’s north, as well as a short blast up the freeway to find some twisty country B-roads, so your mileage may vary.

Worth noting the Giulia Sport sips Premium 95 RON petrol, making it a little more expensive to fill up at the bowser.

Driving

Mercedes-Benz S-Class10/10

In former times, as the Germans say, a ‘450' on the boot indicated V8 power. In the W116 S-Class era it was one of the world's most evocative badges when ‘SEL' was also attached.

As mentioned earlier, though, it's the M256 3.0-litre turbo-petrol with a 48-volt ‘mild hybrid' electrical system that's doing the driving, to all four wheels. The real V8 W223 will probably surface later this year or in early 2022 with the S580L flagship. Bring it on.

This is not to say that S450 isn't good enough. With that electrified assistance, the blown straight six is smooth and swift off the line and rapid as the auto seamlessly steps up through all nine gears. Because it's so hushed and refined, it doesn't feel 5.1s to 100 clicks quick, but watching the speedo says otherwise – acceleration is assertive and strong right up way past the legal speed limit.

All that's missing is the burbling soundtrack of a classic Benz bent-eight. Oh well. Outstanding economy is a price we're literally willing to pay in lieu.

Even more impressive is the S450's ability to hustle along mountain roads like an overgrown sports sedan.

Now, for Australia, all S-Classes are fitted standard with an adaptive ‘Airmatic' air-suspension set-up, including air springs and self-levelling tech. In Comfort up to 60km/h, the ride height can be raised by 30mm, or lowered by 10mm under the standard 130mm baseline in Sport at any velocity, while in Sport+ it falls another 17mm.

With that in mind, yes, the standard air suspension performs a magnificent job smothering out most surface imperfections around town. Yet its real other party trick is to tighten up the chassis when corners get interesting and Sport mode is selected. Aided by progressively weighted and reassuringly responsive steering, the Mercedes tips into turns with precision and poise, slicing through with virtually no discernible body lean or understeer.

Now, we're not talking a leisurely drive on rural highways here, but Healesville's famous Chum Creek Road, where even a Porsche Cayman would feel like it's had a strenuous dynamic workout. The S-Class can be hurried along with confidence and finesse, displaying outstanding handling and roadholding for a 5.2-metre long limo. And the fact that the ride quality only suffers marginally when the red horns are out is all the more remarkable.

Back in the cut-and-thrust of inner-city peak-hour traffic, the Benz in Comfort mode continued to reveal its driver-orientated yet passenger-focused twin-personalities, zipping in and out of gaps while remaining comfy and composed inside.

Only when parking in tight spots are you truly aware that the W223 is longer than a Mazda CX-9. The optional four-wheel-steering system is claimed to slash the turning circle to A-Class hatchback levels. 10.9 metres is the claim.

The 2021 S-Class never ceases to amaze and delight.


Alfa Romeo Giulia8/10

Like all respected sports sedans, the Alfa Romeo Giulia features a front-engine, rear-drive layout to entice the those who would rather drive than be driven.

The exterior styling of the Giulia certainly promises a sharp, entertaining steer, while the interior touch points do nothing to take away from that potential.

Guide yourself into the snug bucket seat, wrap your hands around the wonderfully sized steering wheel and you will notice that Alfa has built the Giulia for the driver.

The steering wheel is an especially nice touch point and features oversized paddle shifters mounted on the steering column – not wheel – making it nearly impossible to miss a shift even when midway through a corner.

For those that like to use the shifter though, the up/down gear selection is arranged in the preferred back/forwards position respectively.

The adaptive dampers in our test car can also be stiffened up independently of the drive mode selected. 

Speaking of which, three driving modes are on offer – 'Dynamic', 'Natural' and 'Advanced Efficiency' (DNA in Alfa-speak) – which change the feel of the car from hardcore to more eco-focused.

With suspension able to be changed on the fly, drivers can have the softest setting on for the bumpy, tram track-laden inner-city Melbourne streets, with the engine in full attack mode to get away from the lights for a cheeky overtake.

It's also a plus that the suspension can be changed from the press of a button on the centre console, instead of usually diving into a whole bunch of complicated menus to tweak and fine-tune certain elements.

Underpinning the Giulia is double wishbone front suspension and rear multi-link set-up, which helps keep things communicative and exciting from the driver’s seat.

Don’t get us wrong, you won’t be ripping drifts or breaking traction in the dry in a Giulia Sport, but the 147kW/330Nm engine offers enough pep to make driving fun.

Push hard into a corner and you will get tyre squeal, but luckily the steering feels sharp and direct, meaning its easy and fun to hunt for apexes even when keeping things under the posted speed limit.

The multimedia system in the Giulia is much improved with the touchscreen functionality to make Android Auto feel a bit more natural, but the 8.8-inch screen does look quite small when buried in the dashboard.

The rotary controller is also better, although the software is still a little fiddly and unintuitive to navigate from page to page, a bugbear likely remedied with more time in the car.

Safety

Mercedes-Benz S-Class10/10

The W223 S-Class has not been crash-tested yet by ANCAP or European affiliate EuroNCAP, so does not have a star rating. However, Mercedes-Benz claims it has striven to create one of the safety vehicles on the planet. Who are we to argue?

Almost every conceivable safety item is standard on the S-Class, including world-first rear-seat airbags located behind the front seats in the LWB model, taking the surround-airbag count to 10.

You'll also find route-based Speed Adaptation (adhering to the posted speed limits), Evasive Steering Assist (a sophisticated form of crash mitigation), adaptive cruise control with active stop/go, Active Lane Change Assist that automatically moves the car into the lane you indicate to), Mercedes' PreSafe crash-preparation tech that primes all the safety systems for impact, electronic stability program that encapsulates all the active driver-assist tech, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking front and rear (including for cyclists and pedestrians, at speeds from 7km/h to over 200km/h), Traffic Sign Assist, Parking Package with Active Parking Assist and 360-degree camera and tyre pressure monitors.

The Active Lane Keeping Assist works in a speed range of between 60km/h and 250km/h while Active Steer Assist helps the driver follow the lane at speeds of up to 210km/h.


Alfa Romeo Giulia9/10

Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sedan was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating from ANCAP in May 2018, with testing based on a left-hand-drive model from 2016 in Euro NCAP examinations.

In the adult occupant and child occupant protection tests, the Giulia scored 98 and 81 per cent respectively, dropping points for just ‘adequate’ chest protection of children in the frontal offset test.

As for pedestrian protection, the Giulia notched a 69 per cent score, while the safety assist assessment yielded a 60 per cent result.

However, since that test, Alfa Romeo has added lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and automatic high beam as standard, which were previously optional.

Also included at no extra cost on the 2020 Giulia is driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition, with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, automatic headlights and wipers, hill-start assist, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring, and a reversing camera with rear parking sensors carrying over.

According to ANCAP assessment, the Giulia’s AEB functions from 10km/h and works up to 80km/h to help drives mitigate an accident.

But the Giulia misses out on rear cross-traffic alert and an automatic emergency call function.

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz S-Class7/10

Unlike many luxury brands that persist with a sub-par three-year warranty, Mercedes-Benz offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Intervals are every year or 25,000km, with a capped price service plan starting at $800 for the first year, $1200 for the second year and $1400 for the third year, totalling $3400. Alternatively, there is a Service Plan starting at $2700 for the first three years (saving $700 from the normal capped-price service plan), $3600 for four years and $5400 for five years.


Alfa Romeo Giulia7/10

Like all new Alfa Romeo vehicles, the Giulia comes with a three-year/150,000km warranty, matching the assurance period of BMW and Audi models, though the Germans offer unlimited mileage.

However, Alfa Romeo lags behind the premium industry leaders, Genesis and Mercedes-Benz, who both offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, while Lexus offers four-year/100,000km cover.

Service intervals on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The first service will set owners back $345, the second $645, the third $465, the fourth $1065 and the fifth $345, totalling $2865 for five years of ownership.