DTW once again abases itself at the bottom rung.
I am no expert when it comes to the subject of car design, lacking as I do the in-depth knowledge, training, vocabulary, or indeed, ‘eye’ to interrogate or illuminate a car’s form in a truly meaningful manner – mercifully, others upon these pages are better placed to do just that.
Nevertheless, I do spend more time than is either productive or conducive to a healthy mind (or body) studying cars and attempting to better understand both them and the intentions of their creators. Over time I have constructed a number of amateur theses, one of them being that if a car design appears acceptable in base-level trim, it probably is an acceptable piece of work.
Last week, we reviewed a design where the discrepancy between base and top-level was notable for all the wrong reasons, but today, we tentitively approach a more formidable barrier, in the shape of the current-series W222 Mercedes S-Class.
I took this solitary photo a number of months ago during one of my stints in West Cork, a place where entry-level Mercedes’ are a good deal more common a sighting than they might be elsewhere. Several aspects about this example coalesced to capture my attention. The fact that it was a short-wheelbase model (a rare sighting in itself), that it wasn’t finished in private hire black or dark blue (suggesting an owner-driver) and that it appeared to be in base-model specification – or as close an approximation to it as I have encountered.
Without dipping into the price-lists (Mercedes’ Irish website is an impenetrable nonsense), I think it’s probably safe to assume that AMG rip-snorters aside, all S-Class models offered in the Irish Republic still imbibe the black stuff. Equally safe to imagine that entry level is probably a 3.0 litre six – up to 2017 allegedly, of the angled variety. (An in-line six came after that date). Smallish wheels (I’d hazard a set of 18 or 19 inchers) on probably the default-option style choice (again, it wasn’t possible to confirm).
I don’t think I would necessarily be a lone voice in the wilderness to suggest that the current Sonderklasse, from a stylistic perspective, falls into the ‘not terrible, but not quite satisfactory’ category. It lacks two of the essential characteristics common to all of the best of its breed – bearing and gravitas. In its creators’ headlong rush towards their goal of Sensual Purity, too much was cast away, with what remains leaving a rather over-flavoured taste.
However, to this observer’s eyes, the example pictured here, while still no S-Class for the post-millennium age, suffers less in this manner than its larger, more emboldened brethren. Does it back up my thesis? Not quite. But while it remains some palpable distance short of adequacy, to these untrained eyes it nevertheless moves closer to it. Perhaps then, for the S-Class, as seems to be the case with Porsche’s eternal Nunelfer, and indeed so much of life, less really is more.