In late 1998, an all-new model was launched. Not only did the car maintain the lineage of previous S-Class sedans, but the W220 also had to overturn some of the negative elements of the previous S-Class. The W220 faced stiff competition from rivals like the Audi A8 Mk II, BMW
7 Series Mk IV, Jaguar
XJ Mk III, and Lexus
Celsior Mk III. Production totalled 485,000 units, slightly more than the production totals from the W140.
Unlike its predecessor, the W220 was no longer the first model to feature the company’s new design theme for the next generation of Mercedes-Benz. This honour was given to the A-Class launched in 1997. The new S-Class incorporated the new styling cues and addressed the criticisms of the previous model’s styling. Rather than being known as colloquially as ’the tank’, the new S-Class was known for its rounded, graceful lines.
The W220 had many engine options unlike W126 and W140. The range started with smaller 3.2-litre 224hp V6 motor which was superceded by enlarged 3.7-litre 245hp V6 in S350.
Next is 4.3-litre 279hp V8 in S430 (that one sold very well in the USA) and 5.0-litre 306hp V8 in S500. AMG prepared the S55 with 5.4-litre 367hp V8 motor which was replaced by supercharged version, producing 500PS or 493hp (469hp in American edition).
The 5.5-litre V12 motor started out as 367hp but was fitted with twin-turbochargers (from Maybach engineering work), increasing its output to 500PS (or 493hp in Europe and 469hp in USA).