Some call it the worlds best car. Parent company Daimler-Chrysler would like to describe it as the Mercedes Benz of Mercedes Benzes. Its the car that serves as the reference point for all cars that possess the legendary three stars. I was in Pune, home of Mercedes in India, to find out why the car is held in such reverence. Mercedes Benz India was launching the S 320L in the country and I was among the journalists who were going to put the car through its paces.
I felt embarrassed at the childish enthusiasm I was displaying about the car, but when virtually every journalist reached the Mercedes factory prior to the appointed hour of 10 that morning - a rare occurrence in media - I knew I wasnt the only excited soul. And there they were. Two S 320L cars, draped in cloth and hidden from public gaze. There was Mercedes managing-director Juergeon Zieglers presentation to go through first. Then he said it: Rs 59 lakh (ex-showroom) in Delhi and Rs 56 lakh in Mumbai. Gulp! Even as the jaws dropped, a deadpan Ziegler made an even more shocking announcement. "Weve already received full payment for 84 cars." Double gulp!