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S550: It's the Little Things - HUD

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  Heads-up display (aka HUD) was originally created for fighter pilots. Now, this display projected onto the windscreen is a standard luxury auto feature.  The HUD display in the S550 is easily turned on and off using a button on the panel to the left of the steering wheel. I generally leave it off for in-city driving (where I find it distracting) and turn it on for highway driving (where I find it useful). I'm particularly impressed by how much information Mercedes has crammed into a very small space, thanks to clever display design. Your current speed is always the biggest number, but it also shows your cruise control (Disctronic+) speed setting, using both a number and an orange marker on a virtual speedometer gauge.  The HUD is particularly impressive when you are using the built-in turn-by-turn navigation system (which, while not as good as Google Maps, is still surprisingly good for a 7-year-old system). Mercedes manages to show you your next turn, how far it is (including a

S550: Fifth Thing Fixed

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  This week I fixed a purely cosmetic defect that is common on these cars. The fixed black roof panel at the top of the windshield, ahead of the sunroof, is made of plastic. The paint on this surface inevitably wears out over time. (There is apparently  a recall out for a bunch of 2014-20 Mercedes-Benz cars (not mine) for this piece, and Mercedes-Benz apparently has designed a glass replacement panel for those cars.)  The solutions for this paint wear are either vinyl wrap or repaint. I opted for the second path (a bit more money, but likely to look better?), using West Wind Auto , who have done great paint work for me in the past. Now it looks good as new. 

S550: It's the Little Things - Accent Lighting

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Let's talk about accent lighting. Not the functional stuff: headlights, marker lights, taillights, turn signals. Don't get me wrong, those are all nice, too. But Mercedes really knocked it out of the park on the accent lighting. So much so, that I'd say this car really looks its best at night.  When the W222 generation of S Class cars came out in 2014, Mercedes bragged that it was the first production car to have zero incandescent bulbs. Every light is a LED. Not such a big deal in 2022, but unprecedented in 2014, apparently. They not only went LED everywhere, they took the opportunity to really up their entire accent lighting game at the same time:  Puddle lights! Yes, you get the star log and "Mercedes-Benz" projected onto the pavement whenever you open the doors. You'll either love it or hate it.   Mirrors and door handles. Look, you probably could have found the door handles and mirrors without them, but they look so good at night, tastefully lit.  Interio

S550: Little Delights - Center Console Dual-Swing Lid

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The center console lid opens from either side! Not sure if any other car makers have this, but it's the first time I've seen it, and it continues to delight me. I still don't understand how it's done, but I still am amazed this isn't standard for every center console out there. 

S550: It's the Little Things - The Steering Wheel

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That two-spoke, leather-and-wood steering wheel. With real, clickable buttons (not touch pads!). Such a pleasure to touch, and so perfect for the relaxed vibe of the car.  While we will never again get those narrow, wood steering wheels from the classic 1970s Benzes, this one evokes those wheels for me. Clean, relatively uncluttered, with "shift paddles" laid in as discreet buttons that you can easily ignore (face it, you'll never use them).  Compared to the steering wheel in both the older and newer generations of S Class, I think this one has the edge. In the W221, the four-spoke wheel hasn't aged well, giving a frumpy, old-man vibe. And the latest three-spoke W223 wheel ... well, the whole thing is now a giant touch panel, which loses the tactile feedback and is hard to use without looking. The high gloss finish also is a fingerprint magnet. But then again, I'm biased. :-)  

S550: It's the Little Things - Analog Clock

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I think analog dashboard clocks are a wonderful automotive anachronism, one that I've enjoyed in my dad's 1972 BMW 2002tii and my 1965 Corvette . Naturally, the Mercedes S Class sedans have long featured an analog clock in the dash. Well, at least until the latest model year 2021-and-onward W223 S Class, I'm afraid. Thankfully, my W222-generation car still has one.  Of course, Mercedes being Mercedes, this isn't a simple analog clock that you set manually. Oh no. It's integrated with the overall COMAND infotainment system, so when you change the time (or set it to fetch time automatically from GPS satellites!), that setting will also set the analog clock. Spooky, no? 

S550: That Trick "Magic Body Control" Suspension

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The S Class has long offered an electronically controlled hydropneumatic suspension known as " Active Body Control " (aka ABC). The problem that this system is intended to solve is how to deliver a soft ride, but also minimize body roll ("wallowing") when taking a corner.  In typical Mercedes fashion, they threw an enormous amount of cutting-edge technology at the problem, and debuted the system in the S Class. Here's the high level technical description, courtesy of Wikipedia:  In the ABC system, a computer detects body movement from sensors located throughout the vehicle, and controls the action of the active suspension with the use of hydraulic servomechanisms. The hydraulic pressure to the servos is supplied by a high pressure radial piston hydraulic pump, operating at 3,000psi. Accumulators regulate the hydraulic pressure, by means of an enclosed nitrogen bubble separated from the hydraulic fluid by a membrane. My S550 also has the " Magic Body Control