When Mercedes-Benz sets out to make a new S-Class, it sets itself a simple if somewhat daunting brief: to make the best car in the world. No half measures. No modest ambitions.

The millions of hours and euros the company spends on research and development are, it’s true, for the good of the range as a whole, but Mercedes’ most advanced technologies receive their debuts here, on what is the flagship of industry flagship models.

And if that sounds mean to Rolls-Royce, BMW, Audi, Lexus and Bentley, then so be it; engineers from every car company in the world respect what the S-Class can do.

And in this latest generation, it has been tasked with doing even more, because the S-Class effectively picks up the baton that the now-defunct Maybach sub-brand failed to carry with any great finesse.

That gives the new model a perilously broad brief: at the lower end of the scale, the S-Class will find itself transporting mid-level executives to and from airports, while at its top end, it has to indulge its occupants like no other luxury car in the world. But even that is no longer enough, as the world expects the big saloon from Mercedes to remain at the cutting edge of technological advances, which is under serious threat from the likes of the latest generation BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Tesla Model S.

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