Mercedes-Benz’s keenly awaited autonomous-drive electronics won’t be featured in the latest S-Class in Hong Kong due to “the city’s traffic regulations”, according to a marque spokesman this morning.
“According to the regulations, any feature that relates to the steering wheel movement without driver’s control is not allowed on the road,” a Mercedes-Benz representative told STYLE.
The announcement is arguably a slap in the face for car geeks and Hong Kong’s Mercedes-Benz fans, many of whom were hoping to see the marque flagship’s unveiling at The Hong Kong Observation Wheel, between 5pm and 6pm on August 25.
The local tech ban is hardly a surprise to Hong Kong’s motoring community, however. Hong Kong transport officials have taken long looks at Tesla’s autonomous-drive electronics, and the latest BMW 7 Series is offered in Hong Kong without its internationally respected park assist.
Hong Kong is also one of the most crowded cities on earth, with a population of 7.38 million in 2,754 sq km, compared to Rhode Island’s 1.056 million in 3,140 sq km. Hong Kong’s roads are also some of the most congested in the world, with 755,312 licensed vehicles in May sharing 2,107 km of public road. That’s arguably 358 cars per km of tarmac, or theoretically one car every 2.79 metres. That means Hong Kong’s a tight testing ground for relatively new autonomous-driving technology, and local Transport officials might be forgiven for putting safety first.
Even so, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still worth seeing on the Hong Kong harbourfront.
The new “flagship”executive saloon’s new features include a fresh exterior design with a new grille and more powerful multibeam LED headlamps. The “bossmobile” also has a revamped interior with new ambient lighting and 10 different programmes. The new S-Class is also very smart. Its Magic Body Control “combines the advantages of the active suspension system Active Body Control with the globally innovative Road Surface Scan function”. A stereo camera “scans the road ahead and registers the road surface and its condition”.
The new S-Class also offers the Energizing Comfort Control – “a first in a production vehicle”, the marque says. Initially presented as a “fit and healthy” concept at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Energizing “systematically uses the functions of the climate control system [including fragrancing] and the seats [heater, ventilation, massage]; the wall heating as well as lighting and musical atmospheres. It enables a specific wellness set-up tailored to the mood and need of the customer,” Mercedes-Benz says. “This enhances physical comfort and performance while driving and during a break.”
Mercedes-Benz offers six Energizing programmes: Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and the three-mode Training (which includes muscle relaxation, muscle activation and balance). These programmes “all run for 10 minutes” and are “visualised on the head unit with colour graphics, and backed by suitable music”, the marque explains.
The new Energizing Comfort Control also incorporates ambience lighting, which is tailored to each of the individual screen designs.
“The light stages the interior like a work of art by composing colour worlds from different colours,” Mercedes-Benz says. “The colour worlds can be temporarily replaced with special effects. For example, a special lighting atmosphere welcomes the driver. In addition, the climate control system indicates whether the temperature is adjusted up or down through the colour of the ambience lighting.”
The brightness of the LEDs adapts equally variably, and can be set in five levels and four zones, the marque says, citing wide-screen cockpit; area of front seats; rear compartment, and all.
“As a result, the ambience lighting harnesses the positive effects of light on the [passengers’] well-being while on the road,” Mercedes-Benz says.
Mercedes-Benz also has great news for its uber-rich fans in the Pearl River Delta. For the first time, the Linguatronic voice control in the new S-Class can receive and “ming bak” Cantonese commands.
“The voice commands can be used to control the air conditioning and seat heating/ventilation, interior lighting [ambience lighting, reading lights, lighting in the rear], fragrancing/ionisation, seat massage function and head-up display,”Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong says. “Also new with the Linguatronic 2.0: the driver [can] request different information, [such as] the next service date, the current speed limit, the remaining range or the date.”
So, do see the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class next week. It’s probably built for more spacious cities than Hong Kong, but it speaks our language.