For over one hundred years, the Mercedes-Benz brand has been synonymous with excellence in automobiles. Few manufacturers have withstood the challenging evolution of the industry, and none have become engrained in our culture like the emblematic German carmaker. Mercedes-Benz doesn’t just build cars, they help craft and cultivate a culture in which the luxury automobile has journeyed from conveyance to artistry.
Culture is not simply the personification of a society’s ideal, but rather a reflection of its dreams. Mercedes-Benz has become more than a car. It’s a symbol, an icon indicative of perfection and grace. A Mercedes-Benz represents its own set of ideals—its own attachments and conventions. The brand is a living, breathing entity that curates personality and ambition. Owning a Mercedes-Benz isn’t the procurement of a convenience, it’s a reflection of achievement. You drive a car; you earn a Mercedes-Benz.
But just as a Mercedes-Benz is earned, so too is its place among the pantheon of cultural signifiers. Nearly as long as it has been rolling off assembly lines it has been featured in music, film, and television. From the sultry crooning of Janis Joplin to the urban realism of Kanye West, the thrill ride of Bullitt to the wistful sentimentality of The Bucket List, the surreal opera of Dallas to the satirical hilarity of The Simpsons, Mercedes-Benz has had a starring role in our culture’s epoch. And within those forms, Mercedes-Benz has come to represent style, perfection, and performance. When it arrives on screen or lingers a lyric, when it attaches itself to a character or storyline, it has meaning—representation that far exceeds that of any other automobile.
But a Mercedes-Benz isn’t just a luxury automobile, or an artistic manifestation; it’s the pinnacle of an art form. As adolescents, not just any car could capture our reverie. Pictures of our parents’ weathered minivans didn’t adorn our bedroom walls and locker interiors. Those cherished spots were reserved for hope, placeholders of our dreams. We hung photos of 1954 300 SL Gullwing Roadsters carefully cut out of classic car magazines. And our fantasies didn’t take place in secondhand sedans. We envisioned pulling up to our proms in the back of a jet black S-Class, the envy of all. Mercedes-Benz wasn’t always the star of our illusions, but as a seminal representation in our culture, it always had an important supporting role, one born of its iconic stronghold on our imaginations.
But those were the hopeful conjuring of our youth, and—if we’ve been lucky—the luxuriate realities of our adulthood. Millennial dreams are comprised of a new set of automotive dreams. But in an age where imagery and iconography is a constant flow, the Mercedes-Benz remains the star of its form. Consider the latest opuses from the seminal car manufacturer: The S-Class Cabriolet, the SL-Class, and the S600 Maybach. These three are the next generation of Mercedes-Benz’ preeminent role in our culture. The cars are more than modes of transport, but rather modes of expression that capture a moment of our culture, and the imaginations of our car buyers.
An open-top variant of the S-Class hasn’t graced our roadways in nearly half a century, and it returns with a fury of splendor that one can only expect from Mercedes-Benz. A forty-five year absence from the assembly lines bears a welcome return to the showroom for the S-Class Cabriolet. The convertible luxury has the sculpted curves and aerodynamic lines that evoke notions of the future while rooted firmly in the traditions of the brand. Stepping into the S-Class Cabriolet is like walking onto a film set, a narrative starring the grace and power of a Mercedes-Benz. It is speed. It is class. It is comfort. It is the ride of dreams.
But what’s on the inside? What transforms culture to efficiency, craftsmanship to conveyance, artistry to automobile? What separates apparatus and icon? The S-Class Cabriolet is the very definition of elegance, but also has the power and precision one would expect from an icon of automobiling. Choose between two Direct Injection biturbo V-8s and an AMG biturbo V-12 to power yourself, pop the top, shine the grille, and ride into a new era of S-Class motoring. This car is the top of the its class, the apex of open-air automobiles. Ranging from the AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive to forged 20″ wheels of the S 65, the careful crafting of an S-Class Cabriolet tailored to your tastes, promises an unparalleled driving experience. The 16-way power adjusted seats ease into your frame, offering heating, ventilation, and massage. But more than resting on its iconic laurels, Mercedes-Benz continues to be at the forefront of automobile technology, as the S-Class is the first modern vehicle to boast the absence of a single lightbulb. Full-LED headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist and Active Curve Illumination, ambient and efficient lighting, and even the option of accented Swarovski crystals, this car is intuition and marvel all in one.
The Mercedes-Benz Roadster is perhaps the most iconic of the brand. It is imagined not in afternoon gridlock or reluctant weekend errands, but rather bending the curves of seaside highways, gripping the road with balletic acuity, taking its passengers not on a trip, but on a journey. The 2017 SL-Class is the natural evolution of the model—innovative, connected, and echoing the appeal of the grand touring class that has been the envy of the industry since 1954. The latest edition of this icon of icons will be the screensaver of car lovers of every age, the destiny of those who appreciate the power and polish of a sleek and refined automobile.
Just like the S-Class Cabriolet, the SL-Class is intuitive, efficient, and can be sewn to the measure of its driver. Find the model meant for you in choosing between the powerful new 362-hp V-6 to the vigorous 621-hp AMG V-12, or refine your SL-Class with a sleeker and more efficient new 9-speed automatic transmission in the SL-Class 450 V-6 and SL-Class 550 V-8. The engine exemplifies innovation with a rapid-multispark ignition and a low-friction design, using less gas to power you more efficiently while respecting your environmental footprint. A few tweaks have ushered the SL-Class into a new generation for the seminal roadster. The grille is reshaped, the headlamps are LED, and the stylish body curves lusciously around a variety of models. Slide back the top and open up to the skies or ride a closed coupe, the versatility of the SL-Class is, as it has always been, second-to-none. And being second-to-none comes with all you’d expect: climate control, elegance, and comfort in its cabin with standard heating, power adjustment, and a 3-position memory system, plus leather or Nappa leather upholstery that ensures your SL-Class will remain stylish as long as you drive it.
If cars are the architecture of travel, the literal vehicle of a form, then the S600 Maybach S-Class sedan is the cathedral. For generations, this model is what kings and queens, Hollywood stars and starlets, rock gods and pop icons have stepped out of to greet the masses. The latest edition is a move forward in the evolution of Mercedes’ most luxuriate sedan. Environmentally, artfully, and performatively at the peak of the industry, the S-Class sedan shines in the spectacle of its grace. It is the very definition of state-of-the-art. It is everything a sedan aspires to be. It is the commute of fantasy.
As with the S-Class Cabriolet and SL-Class, the S600 Maybach is meritorious in its splendour and style, sharing their featured LED headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist and Active Curve Illumination, ambient lighting, and efficiency. But, as the icon of an icon, it asks a little more of itself, offering drivers the very best in its class, though most would argue it’s in a class of its own. The S-Class boasts five bi-turbo engine options: a Direct Injection V6, two Direct Injection V8s, and a pair of peerless V12s featuring enhanced torque and efficiency. The 577-hp S 63 AMG 4MATIC and 621-hp S 65 AMG are the envy of the industry, and deliver power and performance that perfectly compliment and conform to the grace and grandeur of the S-Class sedan. Each engine represents the pinnacle of performance, matched only by the unparalleled cabin comfort and technology; 16-way power adjusted front seats, heated armrests, doors, and rear seats offering a “hot stone” massage setting or cooling ventilation. This is the evolution of the chariot, the royalty of the road, the very essence of luxury driving.
But, beyond the artistic and performative qualifications and specifications of the S-Class Cabriolet, the SL-Class, and the S600 Maybach, remain the manufacturer’s place in our culture and the role of these three new automobiles within that convention. Our cars get us from point A to point B. They are entrusted with the safety of our loved ones. They are an instrument of sabbatical and a mode of escape. But more than that they are an expression of who we are both as a people and as individuals. The representation of this ideal is seen not just on our highways, but in the entrenched beliefs and understandings of our society.
In a film, if a character steps from a Mercedes-Benz they are immediately identified to a set of conventions. If a singer longs for a Mercedes-Benz, the audience knows where they’re from and where they hope to go. If a teenager has a picture of a SL-Class Roadster on their laptop, their friends know that they appreciate, and aspire to, perfection, performance, and pride. The achievement of this manner of iconography was not bestowed upon Mercedes-Benz. It has been earned, it has been cultivated through peerless craftsmanship, unrivaled attention to detail, and unequaled respect for the road.
Mercedes-Benz sells a belief, both in itself as a car manufacturer and in our evolved understanding of their place in our culture. In doing, the automobiles further ingratiate themselves into the cultural landscape in which is has become an icon. No matter our economic realities, race, religious ideals, or upbringing, when we are asked to close our eyes, and imagine what we would drive through the fiction of our dreams and the hope of our futures, for nearly a century, for generations, we have found ourselves sitting in a Mercedes-Benz. Today, at this moment in our history, those flashes of reverie are in a S-Class Cabriolet the SL-Class, and the S600 Maybach. Tomorrow, they’ll be in new models, new technologies, new evolutions, the lyrics of new stars and the narratives of awe-inspiring films. But they’ll all have the three-pointed star leading the way.