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Mercedes-Benz S320

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      28.09.2000 05:46
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      For some it's a Rolls, others perhaps a Lexus or a Jaguar - for me it's a Mercedes S-Class. What, you may ask? Simple. The S-Class is the finest car an ordinary mortal can buy - superbly designed, a host of safety related features and build quality that's so over-engineered that, given reasonable care and regular maintenance, it will devour hundreds of thousands of miles and outlive a succession of owners. The basic qualities hold true for the C and E-class verions as well, but it's the S-Class that's so far ahead of the rest of the automotive industry that even the Lexus 400 (from the Toyota stable) struggles to keep pace. I write as someone who, as a motoring correspondent for 15 years for a major evening provincial newspaper, was fortunate enough to travel all over the world on new car launches. It meant I was privileged to drive models from virtually every marque, ranging from humble Skodas to Ferraris. Many can boast impressive build quality levels, such as Porsche, Audi, VW and BMW, but Mercedes has always had the edge. Ample proof is demonstrated by the many thousands of Mercs still running around the world that are 20 or more years old - and all still have that majestic stance which is the hallmark of good design. Personally, I have always loved the famous Mercedes grille which, in the case of the latest models, has given way to the new four headlamp styling; however, I'm beginning to warm to it. Strangely enough, at least in my area, I've seen some newly registered E-Class models (which have had the new frontal styling since 1995), still featuring the original grille and still believe it to have a more commanding road presence. Obviously their new owners seem to feel the same way. But it's the S-Class, whether petrol or diesel, that's the cream of the crop. Despite its curvaceous on-the-road bulk it rides and handles with the best of them; co ssets its owner and occupants with ultimate luxury and declares to the world that it belongs to someone who wants, and has, the very finest car you can buy. There is just one very tiny, but greatly annoying, drawback with the S-Class. That's simply because, unless I get those six numbers up one Wednesday or Saturday night, I can't afford one!

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