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Mercedes S-Class

Leaving out a few exotic, limited production cars, such as Rolls Royce and Bentley, what's the best sedan money can buy? OK, make that the best, most prestigious sedan money can buy. I'll bet the words Mercedes-Benz came to your lips.

With the arrival of the new S-Class cars -- the S430 and S500 -- I think it's fair to say that this prestigious-best reputation is once again rooted in a solid product.The aluminum V8 can hustle this sleek sedan to 60 m.p.h. in about seven seconds, according to Mercedes, which is on a par with the other players in the class.

Ride quality is perhaps this car's best dynamic attribute. And the outstanding aerodynamics of the new body shell -- the coefficient of drag is an exemplary 0.27 -- add to the comfort quotient by reducing wind noise.

Luxurious comfort, of course, is what this leather-lined car is all about, and it delivers very well. For example, even though the exterior dimensions have been significantly reduced, there's more room inside the car, particularly in the rear seat area.

The all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is so smart it makes me feel dumb. Let's say you're driving south and the early morning sun is beating in the driver's window. You set the driver's temperature control at 68 degrees, while your passenger sets his or hers at 72. Make a U-turn, head back the other way and the climate control system, using a sensor that reads the sun's location, automatically swaps temperature settings from one side of the vehicle to the other.

There are two versions. The S430 has a 275-horsepower, 4.3-liter V8, while the S500's 5.0-liter V8 tops out at 302 horsepower.

Such sleight-of-hand is but one small example of the technical prowess found in this latest generation of Mercedes' flagship, the S-Class.

Not only is this car a technological benchmark, but it also represents a new approach for Mercedes-Benz. Everything but the automatic transmission is new. While the previous S-Class was big, heavy and expensive, the new one is shorter, lower and 500 pounds lighter. The interior is bigger than before, yet prices ($69,700 for the S430 and $77,850 for the S500) are more than $9,600 and $4,200 less, respectively, than last year.

Vehicle Type:

front-engine, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan

Base Price:

$70,295

Engine Type:

4.3-liter, V8

Power (SAE net):

275 bhp

Transmission:

automatic

Wheelbase:

121.5 in

Length:

203.1 in

Curb Weight:

4080 lb

EPA fuel economy, city driving:

17-24 mpg

 

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