From the rear seat, the 7 Series feels like a tech laden, high-end lounge. But the updated S-Class blends tech and old world charm in an effort to stay at the top of the heap.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘luxury’ is ‘a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense.’ Well, that sounds like the very definition of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, especially the part about great expense. At around Rs. 1.3 crore (ex-showroom) – these cars are designed to offer nothing short of the pinnacle of motoring. Forget compromises, for these cars offer you everything that’s technologically and humanly possible – and then some. They don’t just cater to all your needs, but also redefine the meaning of indulgence.
Someone once said, ‘It’s not what you do, but how you do it.’ It must be true, for both the S-Class and 7 Series indulge your every whim and fancy, but what makes them unique and distinct from each other is the way they go about their business. A glimpse at the cabin of both cars is enough to realise this – the dashboard of the S-Class has a nice minimalistic design, while the 7 Series looks busy with a profusion of switchgear.
BMW uses different displays for HVAC and infotainment, while the S-Class just merges everything into its massive dual 12.3-inch screen system housed inside a single glass panel. In fact, Mercedes has done a brilliant job of incorporating virtually everything into these screens, leaving the rest of the cabin to exude a sense of traditional charm. The interiors of both cars are draped in leather, with shimmering metal inserts. But, the S-Class – true to form – does feel a notch more premium with its aesthetically textured wood inlays on the dash and door pads.
Both the S-Class and & 7 Series offer plenty of rear seat space with extremely supportive seats that can be adjusted in a variety of ways. To up its comfort quotient, the updated 2018 S-Class has Active Body Control that uses stereo cameras to gather information about the road surface ahead, which is then passed on to the suspension systems to change damper and spring settings to minimise the effect of road imperfections. This makes the ride quality of the S-Class simply sublime. While the clever suspension does its thing, all you have to do is to push a button to relax and enjoy your ride. So, what does the button do? Well, a lot of things – first, the front passenger seat slides forward, allowing you enough space to fully extend your legs, then a heel-rest slides out from the bottom of the seatback, as your seat reclines and a leg rest extends all the way to your calves to give you complete support. It’s like relaxing on a La-Z-Boy recliner inside the car. Now, once you’re in this position, you can’t just do nothing – that would be a waste. So, you can reach for the rear seat infotainment remote and enjoy your favourite movie. And while you’re enjoying the movie, you can’t not have a massage. So, the Merc allows you to choose from a range of massage options, including a hot stone massage!
Now, in the 7, the foot rest folds down from the back of the front seat – so you can really stretch your legs – and though it has a lot of massage options, it doesn’t have a hot stone massage. On the plus side, however, the BMW also has massage functions for the driver – something which the Merc lacks. But, here’s the thing, unlike the traditional interior of the S-Class, the interior of the BMW has a more modern feel – you use a tab housed in the rear centre arm rest to operate a range of features, such as seat heating, ventilation, massage options and even the window blinds. In the S-Class, you have to use buttons on the doors to access these same features and individual remotes for the infotainment screens to access the massage function.
Both cars offer double-glazed glass and other insulation materials that isolate you from the hustle and bustle of our busy streets, accentuating the sense of calm in the cabin. Testing these cars was one of those rare occasions when we weren’t fighting over the keys, but instead trying to get somebody else to drive.
Comfort vs Performance
But, on the off chance that you do want to drive, neither car will disappoint. The
S 350d, which also happens to be the first diesel Euro 6 car in India, does have a power advantage. And Mercedes has made sure that all those 282 horses are delivered in seamless and refined manner. So, even when you depress the pedal urgently, the S-Class will glide gently instead of lurching abruptly.
The 730Ld, on the other hand, is an out-and-out BMW. Throttle response is immediate, and it takes no time to transform from a luxo barge to a long wheelbase sportscar. It’s seriously fast and handles in a surprisingly agile manner too. Unlike the BMW, the Merc always prioritises comfort.
Now, while it’s a classic case of Mercedes vs BMW, or in other words Comfort vs Performance, we’re talking about the luxury limousine territory and chances are that you’re seeking pure opulence. The S-Class’ ride comfort and old-world interior charm tick all the right boxes for buyers, and that’s why you’ll find many more examples of it on the road. But, its popularity has also to do with the S-Class nameplate – after all, it was once referred to as the ‘best car in the world.’
My pick? I can’t choose, really. It’s like choosing between Paris and New York – there’s no good and bad here, it’s just a matter of taste. I love the appeal of the S-Class and its elegant interior, but, at the same time, I’m equally impressed by the modern feel of the 7 Series. Well, considering I don’t have Rs. 1.3 crore, I’ll leave this conundrum for those who do.
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class S 350d
- BMW 7 Series 730Ld M Sport
Engine: 2,925cc / 6-Cylinders / DOHC / 16 Valves / Turbocharged
Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 282bhp @ 3,400 - 4,600rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 1,200 – 3,200rpm
Price: Rs.1,32,92,586 (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: It’s the world’s favourite luxury limousine.
• Ultra-smooth powertrain
• Luxurious interior
• No massage seats at the front
Engine: 2,993cc / 6-Cylinders / DOHC / 16 Valves / Turbocharged
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 261bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 620Nm @ 2,000 – 2,500rpm
Price: Rs.1,32,40,000 (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: A luxo barge than can transform into a long-wheelbase sportscar in no time
• Remote parking & parallel park assist