Comfort and Quality » 10
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QUALITY | 10 out of 10
heated, ventilated, reclining, massaging, perforated, diamond-stitched, perfume-shpritzed (!), flatscreen-equipped, remote-controlled, Internet-enabled, mother-hugging, veal-soft leather seats
Perceived quality is hugely impressive: every bit as good as that offered by the A8, 7 Series, XJ and LS, if not better.
There will also be an even longer version, which Dr. Storp explained is for the Chinese market and its seemingly insatiable demand for larger rear passenger compartments.
The cabin feels like a plushly furnished secret cave buried deep inside some mountain: it's eerily silent and thoroughly insulated from the shocks and discomforts of the world outside.
It takes a real cynic to find fault with the Mercedes-Benz S Class' passenger comforts. The 2014 S550 has spacious accommodations, superb front seats, easy access for those in back, and a fillip of first-class accoutrements to go with occasionally fiddly ergonomics. And if anything, its finishes are more beautifully crafted than ever.
The S-Class is built in two distinct lengths, but for the 2014 model year, U.S. dealers will sell only the long-wheelbase version--dubbed the "standard" wheelbase here, as much for the existence of a shorter car elsewhere, as for the possibility that an even longer car is in the works.
The long-wheelbase S-Class body now has a slightly wider track and more shoulder, head, and elbow room, which guarantees plenty of front and rear-seat leg room, even with the front seats powered all the way back. The rear doors are cut widely, for easy access and limousine-like space.
The seats themselves are sculpted for good comfort. In front, the 16-way power seats can be controlled via COMAND or door-mounted switches. There's an active multi-contour function that inflates air pockets in response to cornering forces; if it sounds gimmicky, it feels useful and comfortable when the S Class hustles up to higher speeds. The seats are well-padded, heated, and ventilated--and that last feature might be responsible for the one flaw, a hard surface at the back of the bottom cushion.
The back seats can be configured in a few ways, from a basic bench seat to a pair of buckets, to the S-Class' most lounge-like seating option ever, its First Class Rear Suite. A pair of reclining chairs with fold-out footrests and a separating console fitted with laptop trays, the suite also has app-enabled seat adjustments and a massaging function that's inspired by hot-stone treatments at a spa. The armrests are heated, even. For utmost comfort, the front passenger seat can be lowered and its headrest removed, so the right-rear passenger can nap on a chaise-style recliner.
With the S-Class' larger cabin, you'll rarely find space at a premium, even for the smaller items. There's a large glovebox, and a console large enough for big electronic gadgets. Two cupholders have built-in cooling. And in most versions, the S-Class' rear seat has a fold-down portion and a pass-through to the moderately sized trunk.
Fit and finish has few peers in the car world, and the S-Class surely has never looked better. A wide range of leather and wood trim is on the order sheet, everything from silver-hued trim or quilted leather on the dash to sueded leather on the recliner-seat pillows. The S-Class also has a fair amount of "metallized" surfaces--plastic clad with metal paint. It can glint and luster like metal, but to the touch it's not as substantial as real metal, particularly at the climate vents, where the S-Class' tiny knobs miss out on the high ritual of, say, Bentley's chromed vent pulls.
There's never been so much attention paid to quality in any Mercedes, or to comfort--particularly in the executive-class rear seat package.