Strange as it may be to contemplate for those among us who enjoy acquainting their right foot with the floor beneath the accelerator pedal, there are some people whose intentions when getting into a car are rather removed from hitting the speed limit in the shortest time possible.
Where some of us want to hustle along, other prefer to waft. Sport suspension and a raspy exhaust note? Not here, thanks. Such drivers are more interested in ride and power being equally creamy in its delivery, while being cosseted in a cabin permeated by about as much noise as a black hole. These people must certainly exist in their thousands in the Emirates, given the popularity of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. What the German marque trumpets as “the best car in the world” is certainly nowhere near such lofty claims should your criteria for such accolades involve getting your blood pumping faster. But when it comes to cruising in a manner so relaxed that it feels like driving a cloud on wheels, this is your car – city-to-city commutes are not so much devoured as whipped into a fine mousse and evaporated into the ether.
Now, many of the S-Classes you will see on the UAE’s roads have been tampered with by those scamps over at AMG, at which point you can ignore all the talk of ditching raspy exhausts – the noisiest S 65s could wake up Karl Benz himself on a good (or bad?) night.
Behind the wheel of my test car, the S 450, the wisdom of looking to attract a different type of driver very much holds true. It is a new notch at the base end of the S-Class scale in the UAE that costs less than half the price of an S 65.
Not that the S 450 hasn't got its own modest hustle, with a 3.0L biturbo V6 gives you the best of both worlds. It will nip along to 100kph from nothing in 5.3 seconds, yet its claimed fuel consumption of 8.0 litres per 100km puts it squarely in running-cost budgets of people who could, well, never afford this half-million-dirham car in the first place.
Weighing two tonnes plus the equivalent of a decent-sized passenger, the S 450 certainly needs its 369hp and 500Nm to haul it along with a bit of pace, but I can gladly report that when you do need to get moving, there is only the merest hint of turbo lag. Such is the engine insulation, though, that you barely get any real sensation of the pace you are picking up via the rear wheels.
Luxurious loafing is where the S 450 unsurprisingly comes into its own, with a cabin designed to envelop like a pleasant hug. Among a dizzying amount of buttons and dials, the driver and front-seat passenger aren't even really the first priority – that honour goes to those in the rear quarters, who can snooze in reclined comfort or stay awake by watching two sizeable screens mounted on the front headrests that come with their own remote control.
As per much of Germany’s four-wheeled output across its premium brands, there are an almost countless number of extra options that include features such as remote parking assist, although even with these, it can’t quite match up to the new Audi A8 in the autonomous arena.
When you consider the A8’s headline features are useless on UAE roads for now anyway, though, the S 450 starts to look like a cut above. And when you look up and see that famous badge sitting proud atop the crest of the bonnet, it would be hard for any owner not to feel a little swelling of pride.