Inside the new Mercedes S-Class
* Chauffeur Pack creates first-class flight feel * Front seat moved to maximise comfort in the rear * Special system preserves passenger crash safety...
For many buyers, the most important part of the new Mercedes S-Class will not be its efficiency or even its dashboard layout, but rather the rear cabin.
This has always been a car used by wealthy businessmen and chauffeur services, and considering that the massive Chinese market focuses more than most on being driven instead of driving, Mercedes knows that the S-Class's latest passenger space has to be spectacular.
Judging from the time we've spent in the rear of a long-wheelbase S500, the new model looks set to deliver. We sampled the S-Class 'Chauffeur Pack', a new feature designed to maximise seating for one - and it was unlike anything we've experienced in a car before.
The set-up is based on the reclining executive seat on one side of the rear cabin, because in effect it sacrifices the front passenger seat to give a huge amount of extra space to the person sitting behind it.
A switch on the door moves the front seat forwards and up (even the headrest folds to allow the seat to gain more vertical clearance), then reclines the back of the rear seat and brings up a leg rest.
The experience is uncanny - not unlike the seats occupied by the lucky few in first-class air travel. Nor does the occupant miss out on any of the extra safety in the latest S-Class; the seat includes a special cushionbag that stops the passenger 'submarining' under the seatbelt if an impact occurs in the reclined position.