CREATING MAGIC New Mercedes-Benz S-Class
In the world of luxury saloons, the words ‘best’ and ‘S-Class’ often go together. This is for a good reason, the S-Class has repeatedly set benchmarks when it comes to introducing new safety systems, interior features, and drivetrain technologies. These innovations not only trickle down to the rest of the Mercedes line-up, but they are also what the competition (BMW, Audi, Jaguar) are measured against. The 2018 S-Class is no different. To begin with, it has been introduced with Mercedes’s new generation of engines, which are more efficient and silent. We put to test the S 350D, which comes with a 2,996cc in-line V6 turbocharged diesel engine that delivers 286hp to take this 2-tonne luxury chariot from a standstill to 100km/hr in just 6.8 seconds. The engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission that delivers an ultra-smooth ride and is agile enough in lower gears to navigate through the chaotic rush-hour traffic with ease. A new addition is semi-autonomous driving - a host of sensors and cameras take over and the car literally drives itself by monitoring the road and vehicles ahead.
Step inside and you will be greeted by plush leather-clad interiors. The cabin is so well insulated that it cocoons you from the outside world, while the toys inside start pampering all your senses. The rear seats are heated/cooled and so cushy that you just sink into them. You can choose from six massages of varying intensities, while the air conditioning system helps you melt the stress away by dispensing cool ionised fragranced air. At the same time, you set the ambient lighting to one of the 64 colours to suit your mood. All this while the high-quality Burmester sound system plays your favourite track through more than two dozen speakers that are strategically placed inside the cabin.
Like with its predecessors, the 2018 Mercedes S-Class is the car you would want to be driven in. The latest tech, toys, power and hard-to-surpass comfort are a testament to Mercedes’s ability to create magic.
Engine 2987cc, inline-six cylinder Diesel
Power 282 bhp @ 3600 RPM
Torque 600 Nm @ 1600 RPM
Pick-up 0-100kmph 6.8 seconds
Top speed 250kmph
City fuel efficiency 5kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency 10kmpl
Safety 8 airbags, ABS with EBD. Traction control, ESP, Hill Hold Control
Price 01.58 crore (ex-showroom Mumbai)
AN ITALIAN OFF-ROADER Maserati Levante
‘A Maserati SUV’ would have been just unthinkable a decade back. But, over the years, the SUV space has heated up so much and become so lucrative that every auto manufacturer wants a piece of the pie. As a result, we now have the Maserati Levante, an SUV that is built on the Quattraporte/Ghibli sedan platform. Being a Maserati, it is drop dead gorgeous and simply stands out from the rest. The uninterrupted lines, the curves, the massive front grille with the Maserati trident and the slit headlights with daytime running lights, all of them just seduce the on-lookers.
Maserati India is offering the Levante in three variants - Diesel, GranLusso, and GranSport. We drove the base variant (Diesel) to find out if the Levante drives as well as it looks. As rugged as the exteriors may be, the leather-clad interiors are minimalistic and classy. The dash is dominated by a 8.4’ touchscreen that controls all key aspects. Though easy to use, the interface, and in general the tech in the car, are years behind what you would see in some of the newer German SUVs.
Drive for a while and you can happily say this is a true Maserati. The hydraulic steering offers plenty of feedback and lets you feel the tarmac. Providing an enriching experience is the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 engine that is built by Ferrari. It delivers 275bhp and can zip from 0 to 100km/hr in 6.9 seconds, while touching top speeds of up to 230kmph. Push your foot on the pedal and the Levante will let out an alluring grunt, something that will bring a smile on your face no matter how many times you do it.
There are four driving modes to choose from – Normal, Sport, Off-road, and I.C.E. (Increased Control and Efficiency). Normal and I.C.E. are for urban drives while the Sport mode makes not only the performance pick up, but the tone is also audibly gruffer. A number of smart features keep the driving experience pleasurable, especially the lane assist for highway driving, auto parking and the ability to adjust the steering weight and feel at the mere press of a button. The off-road mode delivers, with the air suspension giving you the experience of gliding through rough terrain.
An Italian performance car that is drop dead gorgeous and can still take some beating on the Indian roads - this is the Levante.
Engine 2987cc, Turbocharged Diesel Engine
Power 271 bhp @ 4000 RPM
Torque 600 Nm @ 2000 RPM
Transmission 8-speed, Automatic
Pick-up 0-100kmph 6.9 seconds
Top speed 230kmph
City fuel efficiency 8kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency 12kmpl
Safety 6 airbags, ABS with EBD. Traction control, ESP, Hill Hold Control
Price 01.45 crore (ex-showroom Mumbai)
THIRD GENERATION SUV 2018 Porsche Cayenne
The genesis of the luxury SUV market can be traced to 2002; it was when Porsche announced it was going to make an SUV. This not only stumped but also irked loyalists, customers, and fans alike. But, the Cayenne was a roaring success, so much so that it prompted SUV-averse companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley and others to enter this segment.
Sixteen years later, we now have the third generation Porsche Cayenne. While the styling has not changed drastically, there are hints of the Porsche Panamera along with the omnipresent 911. It is lighter and faster than its predecessor. The increased use of aluminum and clever engineering has helped it shave off 65kg. Porsche India is launching the Cayenne in three variants - the entry-level Cayenne, Cayenne S and the Cayenne Turbo. We tested the Cayenne S, which packs in a 2.9-litre twin turbo V6 petrol that churns out 440hp and 405Nm of torque. It can zoom from a standstill to 100km/hr in a claimed 3.9 seconds. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, which routes power to all four wheels.
Unlike the exteriors, the interiors are completely new. At the centre of the cabin is a sharp 12.3-inch touchscreen that lets you control all the car’s functions with Porsche Control Management, an incredibly easy-to-use interface. In a first from Porsche, there is also a Siri-type voice assistant that understands over a hundred voice commands. Say ‘I am feeling hot’ and the cabin temperature is automatically reduced by two degrees.
We tested the car on the tar-laden curvy mountain roads of Fujairah (an emirate of the UAE) and the dirt roads of Oman. The cabin is so well isolated from the outside that on the winding roads I felt as if I was in the backseat of a luxury saloon. To my aid came the state-of-the-art air suspension system that, along with an electronic active roll bar, heavily cuts down on body roll even when taking on corners at high speeds.
For off-roading, the Cayenne lets you choose from three driving modes - mud, gravel, and sand or rocks. My view ahead was a winding dirt road that cut through a mountain range - I chose ‘gravel’ and the suspension lifted the car while the steering, gearbox and suspension were tweaked for the terrain ahead. Even on a punishing terrain, my ride was extremely effortless.
The 2018 Porsche Cayenne is a near perfect marriage of technology and performance.
Engine 2.9 litre, 6-cylinder twin turbo petrol
Power 188 bhp and 430Nm of torque
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Pick-up 0 - 100kmph 5.2 seconds
Top speed 265kmph
Price 01.3 crore (expected)