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‘The essence of the S-Class exists across the entire Mercedes range’

Steve Fowler thinks the importance of the S-Class’ image is key to the success of other Mercedes models

When Mercedes launches a new S-Class, the whole car world stops to watch. As the wraps were removed from the sleek new seventh-generation model, it won’t only have been enthusiasts, owners and dealers tuning in; other car makers will have been sitting there with their pens poised to take in the very latest technologies that Mercedes’ famous flagship has to offer.

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It has always been that way; the S-Class has, for generations, featured technology that has rolled down into other Mercedes models, and then into rivals’ cars. Technology such as anti-lock brakes; the S-Class was the first model from a major manufacturer to feature this crucial safety feature that’s now on every new car.  Airbags, seat-belt pretensioners and ESP were other important safety innovations on the S-Class.

It also introduced the world to autonomous driving features with adaptive cruise control (or Distronic in Mercedes-speak). And now this latest model will bring us Level 3 autonomous tech, with the car taking control on motorways and in traffic jams, allowing you to divert your attention elsewhere.

That, along with augmented reality tech in the head-up display to offer navigation prompts, will undoubtedly roll down into other Mercs. The essence of the S-Class exists across the entire Mercedes range, and never has that been more crucial. The tech and interior ambience also helped nudge the latest A-Class ahead of the new Audi A3.

All is not completely rosy in the world of Mercedes right now, though. If the S-Class is everything Mercedes knows about technology in one car, let’s hope it’s not everything it knows about design, because it’s no beauty. 

And while everyone knows what Mercedes stands for, what about its EQ, AMG and Maybach brands? We hear confusion is rife, not only with customers, but also for some inside Merc, who don’t get it either. There’s work to be done.

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Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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