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Mercedes Benz S-Class - Inside

Smart Cars, Stupid People

Les Bidrawn
Jan 15, 2006 SHARE
0601_epcp_z+mercedes_benz_s_class+mercedes_by_lake Photo 1/1   |   Mercedes Benz S-Class - Inside

That the Mercedes-Benz S-Class will find its way into Hollywood is a foregone conclusion. Bet on it. While I'm fairly certain every big shot producer-type will have one, the S will also find its way onto the big screen, probably the badass S600. It's muscular, sexy, smart, the definition of star quality. One scene you'll never see it in, however, is being stolen. Say a bad guy needs a getaway car and an S-Class is the nearest target. He jumps in (this is providing he's somehow acquired the key), mashes the throttle and leaves in a cloud of white smoke and screeching tires. Whoa, not so fast there tough guy. This just ain't gonna happen. The thief will most likely sit there staring at the console wondering where the starter button is located. And then he'll start searching for the gear lever and map function. Unless the perp is an ber-geek (and only then maybe), he ain't going anywhere fast. Of course, this is real life. Far more outlandish things have transpired on film, like Tom Cruise dodging aliens or driving in NASCAR.

Like BMW's iDrive, Mercedes has engineered a centrally mounted dial (Mercedes COMAND) that both activates and controls a great many of the S-Class' features. And there's a lot of them. Take the massage function, for instance. Scroll through the menus, find massage and click. Sounds simple but it's not that easy. You must choose what type of massage you want, be it deep tissue, light rub, seat ventilation/heat, etc. Same thing with the radio, nav system and climate control. Although voice recognition in the new S-Class is very good and capable of accessing a good many features, you've got to figure out where it is and what it understands.

I am by no means a Luddite. I can download from iTunes, program my VCR and write macros for video games. I must admit, however, that this new generation tech-heavy cars has me scratching my head. I'd like this level of control in my home but it's not working in my cars. I want to jump in a car and figure it out in eight seconds. Being compelled to "learn" a car is troublesome. The father of a Primedia executive, a hardcore BMW 7 Series fan, recently refused to trade in his 7 in for another, opting for the 2005 Mercedes S-Class instead. Boy, is he going to be pissed next year.

Two things could happen: Either this technology will be embraced or it'll go away. I tend to believe the former scenario is more likely. BMW, Audi and Mercedes don't do anything without putting a few gazillion dollars into research. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. I suppose I could spend a few minutes and read the owner's manual, but I never read owner's manuals. It's sorta one of my rules.

OK, that was my rant. I feel better now.

Although it was a logistical nightmare, we managed to corral four genuine supercars and let them duke it out. These vehicles are what I like to call "Ether Cars." They exist, but on a different dimension. Some of us will own these cars but in the form of a poster or 1:18 scale model. I still have Porsche's "959 in the Snow" photo in my office. It may be time to replace it.

Deputy Editor Funke dragged his butt to Italy and flogged Porsche's new Cayman S. He says it's good and I believe it as he's incapable of lying. I just like the way the Cayman looks and I'm glad Porsche's building it. It gives me one more reason to dump the Boxster.

Senior Editor Hallstrom schlepped to Germany and got to party in the ContiDrom, Continental Tire's playground. I drove it five years ago and it's indelibly etched as one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. The sensation of "riding the wall" at 150 mph is akin to being in a real-life video game (except you don't get another life if you screw up). That Continental has agreed to build a tire for an aftermarket wheel manufacturer is indicative of the company's passion for the industry. It sure can't be the money as this run of Giovanna edition tires is but a speck in their production line.

Project Editor Mazlumian is still weeping over his bleeding engine. Luckily, Brad and Simon at Evosport have stepped in to make things right. In addition to a forgiving priest and clever accountant, you need a talented mechanic to be happy.

Last, Project 911 is all but complete. Dyno testing revealed the extensive rebuild was worth the effort; it's now living an active street life. Like Project Corrado VR6, we had no wild aspirations of 10-second quarter miles or beating Vipers. The car was built to be driven, driven every day. I like those kinds of cars.

I'm leaving now, ready to go on a 400-mile road trip in Audi's brilliant new A6. It should give me plenty of time to find the radio presets, adjust the climate control and program the navigation computer. Or I could just use a map and listen to my Ramones cassette.

Or I could read the owner's manual.Les BidrawnEditoreuropean.car@primedia.com

Senior Vice President John W. Cobb IIIExecutive Vice PresidentInternational Automotive GroupHoward C. Lim

EditorialEditorLes BidrawnManaging EditorCristi DuellmanDeputy Editor Karl FunkeSenior Editor Robert HallstromEngineering Editor Jay ChenProject Editor Pablo MazlumianEditor-at-Large Kevin ClemensEuropean Editors Alistair Weaver, Nick HallEast Coast Editor Tim McKinneySport Editor Kerry MorseEditorial AssistantSharon MalmContributing Editors Bruce Benedict, Marc Beauregard, John Brooks, Elaine Catton, Henry DeKuyper, Dan Erwin, Joe Hayashibara, James Hickerson, William Klein, Mike Miller, Giancarlo Rosetti, Mitchell Sam Rossi, James Sly, Peter WuHuman Swiss Army KnifeEric Simpson

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National Sales OfficesNew York Office 212/726-4300Los Angeles Office 323/782-2000Detroit Office 313/964-6680Chicago Office 312/396-0600Tampa Office 813/675-3500

Direct Marketing GroupAccount ManagerOveis Hashmani 323/782-2779oveis.hashmani@primedia.comDigital/Marketing/EventsDirector of Digital SalesMark Weinstein 714/939-2439mike.weinstein@primedia.comManager & New Business DevelopmentElliott Moran 323/782-2106elliott.moran@primedia.comEvents ManagerSora Loewen 714-939-2482sora.loewen@primedia.com

International Automotive GroupPresident Steven ParrVP, Sales and Marketing Ira GabrielChief Financial Officer Judy AnzaloneGroup Operations Director Amy DiamondSenior Operations Director Pauline Clark

Primedia, Inc.Chairman Dean NelsonPresident & CEO Kelly ConlinVice Chairman Beverly C. Chell

Primedia Enthusiast MediaChief Creative Officer Craig ReissPresident of Consumer Marketing Steve AsterSVP, Chief Financial Officer Kevin NearySVP, Mfg., Production & Distribution Kevin MullanSVP, Chief Information Officer Debra C. Robinson

Consumer Marketing, Primedia Enthusiast MediaVP, Single Copy Marketing Rich BaronVP & CFO, Consumer Marketing Jennifer PratherVP, Retail Analysis & Development Doug JensenVP, Wholesale/Retail Stefan KaiserVP, Consumer Marketing Operations Elizabeth Moss

Consumer Marketing, Enthusiast Media Subscription CompanyVice President Consumer Marketing Bobbi Gutman

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By Les Bidrawn
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