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MERCEDES MAGIC: Banishing the Limits of Boredom

For anyone who can't program a VCR, forget the S-Class 500. It simply wouldn't be worth the effort.

But for those who relish immersing themselves in the likes of the Internet, Palm Pilots, wireless global communications, satellite-fed television and other electronic marvels, be prepared for an experience that can only be classified as "delicious."

THIS IS A MERCEDES that's more than the first entry on an engineer's wish list. Rather, it's a reality that should challenge all competitors and drive the folks who design such gadgets to keep on stretching for more. It's like finding the perfect soulmate who keeps a relationship growing by serving up continual, delightful surprises.

It would be understandable to concentrate on just the 5.0 liter, 302 horsepower, SOHC 24-valve V8 engine that makes this long wheelbase family sedan surge forward with the same total command and smooth transitions that drives its sister CL500. (At a time 300 horses are mostly a memory, this is no-excuses power that responds to a feather-light touch on the accelerator.)

It would be logical to focus on the tight, smooth handling punctuated by a sense of solid control that doesn't let go. Or the just-right interior that won't allow comfort to compromise the sense of the road.

You could think of the S500 only in terms of performance. But that would be missing some serious fun.

The S500 is like an hors d'oeuvres table of treats designed for almost anything a discriminating taster could want. Going beyond styling features, such as sturdy, yet supple leather seating and muted wood trim, it becomes a feast of the choicest cuisine, a montage of electronic delicacies served up by Mercedes' German engineers who are widely reputed to develop just about anything that seems achievable on a moving vehicle. It's proof that Mercedes continually seeks to take its vehicles - and its customers - to a much higher level.

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