The first thing I noticed was how momentarily dizzy I got when I turned the wheel for a bend in the road.
Then, it was time to demonstrate a feature that automatically brings the car to a stop if a pedestrian jumps out in front of it. The careless virtual person, in this case, was a rather succinctly clad female with a body that didn't quit.
"That's a rather shapely pedestrian," I pointed out to Andreas Gottschol, the Mercedes engineer in the passenger's seat.
"She's German," he explained.
After recovering from the psychic impact of the virtual jaywalker, I was able to appreciate how remarkable that quick stop seemed. (Later, on a macadam road, another Mercedes engineer was able repeat the feat in the real world, only in this case the saved pedestrian was a homely male geezer fashioned from plastic.)
The demonstrations of the electronic marvels - 20 of them in all - continued on both the screen and the road. Perhaps the most memorable real-road moment was what happened when I put the suspension in "Comfort Mode" and hit a speed bump at better than 25 m.p.h. Thanks to a front-mounted camera that saw the bump and told the suspension to soften up for it, I felt virtually nothing.
But the new S-Class is more than just a pretty interface. It is simply a superb automobile, from its ride and handling to its extraordinary levels of comfort and quietude.
The new car's body isn't just sleek and distinctive. It is also remarkably aerodynamic. Indeed, its 0.24 coefficient of drag makes it the world's most aerodynamic luxury car.
That wind cheating has two benefits: It boosts fuel mileage, and it quiets the car. And this is one incredibly quiet automobile. Driving in it is like visiting the library - after hours.
The interior is as lovely as it is quiet. I drove several models, but I particularly liked the one with the silver-tinted ash veneer trim to go with the gray leather surfaces, which included more than the seats. As the head of Mercedes, Dieter Zetsche, put it, "Anything that feels like leather is leather."
Perhaps the most bizarre new option is a fragrance dispenser (about $300), which you can load with one of four fragrance canisters ($40 each). Here's a description of the "Fireside Mood" fragrance: "Unobtrusive, but always present, this fragrance seduces the senses. The dewy citrus nuances of bergamot and lemon harmonize with tea extracts. This tangy, vibrant body finds elegant refinement in discreet, flowery overtones." (And you thought wine critics OD'd on floridity.)
The new S-Class will be offered as a gas V-8 turbo, a diesel, and possibly a gas hybrid. (The peppy new diesel hybrid, which I also test-drove, will not be sold here.) The new car goes on sale this fall. Prices will be revealed later - when you're stronger.
Contact Al Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.