If you don't like attention, the new Brabus S-Class is probably not for you. It's one of those cars that commands attention. It's big, bold, and beautiful, and it draws stares wherever you go-sort of like Anna Nicole Smith, albeit much classier. That said, I recently took weekend-ownership of a black-on-black edition courtesy of CEC and Brabus USA. After signing a liability release that made me feel like I was now babysitting a $135,000 moving attraction, I carefully climbed behind the Brabus logo-embossed leather-wrapped wheel and headed out, with the 5.5-liter engine purring like the well-tuned machine it is. Did I mention the car had just been delivered and had only 30 miles on the odometer? This was also pointed out to me before I left-I'm sure in the hopes that I wasn't planning to run a cross-country trek and rack up as much mileage as possible.
No sooner had I reached the first traffic light than this guy in the car next to me pulled out a camera cell phone and started snapping photos of the car like some crazed paparazzo. It was clear to me he was stoked, even going so far as giving me a thumbs-up. Even on the car-jaded streets of Beverly Hills, the Brabus S550 is a star attraction.
No stranger to fanfare, premier Mercedes-Benz tuner Brabus AG had its hands on the new W221 S-Class late last year and began developing a comprehensive styling package designed to enhance the car inside and out.
Easily more elegant than its predecessor, the car's sharper angles and cleaner lines are complemented by a full Brabus aero package that adds just the right amount of sportiness without taking away from its luxurious and beautifully crafted panels. The sportier front valance extends below the bumper and tastefully incorporates a large intake area, as well as integrated high beams and foglights. The rear features a bumper that also wonderfully matches the flowing exterior contours and is designed to accommodate the Brabus sport exhaust and its stainless steel quad tips. A subtle trunklid spoiler provides further accent to the rear, and a pair of side skirts complete the package. Later that evening, I discovered the side skirts and rear valance feature hidden custom LED ground illumination. I had heard about this new feature and was initially on the fence about it, thinking it would remind me too much of the undercarriage neon glow lights made popular with some of the less gifted within the import crowd. But this lighting serves a true purpose, effectively illuminating the curb and rear area when triggered by unlocking the doors or trunk. The valet at the Velvet Margarita was surprised, having not seen anything like it, as were the valet girls we bumped into later in the evening. Yes, all the valets were girls, and car chicks at that.
I must admit it's a bit of a novelty (the lighting), but it does actually work and can be considered a safety feature. Then again, it also attracts more attention, so I guess it's all par for the course.
Thanks to a Brabus electronic lowering module that works with the standard Airmatic suspension, the car sits nice and low and rides on large 21-inch Brabus Monoblock E Wheels with wide Pirelli P Zero Nero tires.
Equally impressive is the luxurious cabin, which with its yards and yards of soft black imported leather and richly polished woods is seemingly all anyone would ever need. But for those who wish to personalize, Brabus can custom-tailor the interior with individualized options to satisfy your every wish and any discriminating taste. In addition to the sport steering wheel, the S-Class was equipped with a Brabus aluminum pedal set, aluminum doorsills with Brabus logo entry illumination, Brabus logo charcoal mats, and a set of the company's chrome-plated door lock pins, which, you guessed it, also carry the famous Brabus insignia.
It goes without saying that Brabus is the tuner for Mercedes-Benz automobiles. I can't imagine that any of the mods could be better designed or better suited. Everything fit and worked flawlessly, which is why Brabus continues to pump out some of the most impressive performance and enhancement packages available.
The weekend flew by far too quickly, and it was time to return the car to its showroom pedestal. Quite frankly, I was relieved. It gets tiring watching after such a prized possession, but it sure works wonders for the ego.