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60This is why I'm a huge fan of the Mercedes Benz S-Class. The cardares you to earn it, and earn it for real. It is not just a status symbol.However, for enthusiasts, it's also about remembering the days whenthe 450sel (can you say 6.9?) in blue/beige owned the boulevard. Ihad a relative that owned one. I have never forgotten the day that Irode in the backseat, around eight years old. I had only experiencedPontiacs and Oldsmobiles, but was already a veteran car enthusiastthat knew everything about 911s, Mercedes and even Bimmers (therewere so few Bimmers around in the 70s, they beeped each other). Ihad never ridden in any of them until that day in the back of the450sel. It burned into my memory because the car possessed an airof quality even a young child could appreciate. The way it took theroad imperfections, the perfection inside the cabin, the doors, theinstruments and the climate control layout. It was precision andpower, and you felt it even riding in the back seat. This was noOldsmobile. It was a Mercedes-Benz, and boy was it different. A gamechanger for an eight year old car guy.The 450sel is the predecessor to our modern day S-Class, and the "S"car line changed my perception of quality, achievement, and what itmeans to be the best in what you do. Not all that can afford it driveEveryone knows that Mercedes-Benz makespremium automobiles. But fewer may knowthat within the rank and file of the carsthemselves, such as the C-Class, or E-Classand so forth, there can be found a deepermeaning of achievement.The S-Class is the top-of-the-line. If you want the best sedan, itwill be an S-Class for you. But for the discerning and perhaps self-made individual, an S-Class Mercedes is much more personal. Itis the one car whose affordability is not measured simply in termsof dollars, but as a rite of passage resulting from a lifeachievement, regardless of your age. In this way, the Mercedes isakin to a Rolex watch. For many people, the acquisition of a fineRolex timepiece is as much about a benchmark in one's career asit is about the quality of the watch itself. Sure, many can afford aRolex these days, but did they achieve it as a rite? So who caresabout such things? Perhaps those of us who are attracted topossessions representing our personal goals; items that embody apoint of reference in a world of generic offerings. DAY TRIPPERTHE S-CLASS. A RITE OF PASSAGEStory and Photos by Mitchell Fain

61an S-Class, and not all that own an S-Class have only an S-Class, butthose in the know, know there is the S-Class and is there anything else?I was given the happy task of driving the S 350 BlueTEC 4MATICT.This is the car with a state-of-the-art diesel engine that gets fueleconomy like a small 4 cylinder car, and will run seamlessly down thehighway for an eon before a fill is required. The S-Class is the epitomeof luxury ownership for the executive CEO-type, and the diesel versionis a serious alternative to the regular gas engine because the powerand refinement is remarkable. Yet, even though the price of fuel mightnot be the highest priority in first class travel, I know of no one whodoes not enjoy a dose of zero compromise frugality, efficiency, as wellas a far lesser dependence on filling station intervals. It is the verytraits of the S 350 BlueTEC 4MATICT that identify with your savvyas a professional person to effectively run a business, treat a patient,represent an interest, or maximize a return on an investment.Many people still question the diesel engine as noisy, smoky, orgutless. Drive the S 350 BlueTEC 4MATICT and witness the immensechanges in diesel as the power plant of today and the motivator for ourfuture. See you next time.BASIC SPECS: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC 4MATICTTYPE: 5-passenger, 4-door sedanLAYOUT: Front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, ENGINE:turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve diesel V-6,aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionHORSEPOWER: 240 hp @ 3600 rpmTORQUE (SAE NET):455 lb-ft @ 1600 rpmTRANSMISSION:7-speed automaticWHEELBASE: 3,165 mm ACCELERATION: 0-100 km/h in 7.1 sTOP SPEED: 210 km/hFUEL ECONOMY:City: 10.2 l/100 km. Highway: 6.3 l/100 km(Sources: www.caranddriver.com and www.mercedes-benz.ca)Visit your local Mercedes-Benz Toronto Area retailer or mbtoronto.ca to schedule a test drive.