Voted 2006’s Best Luxury Car by respected motoring magazine What Car?, the new S-Class combines state-of-the-art technology with effortless performance and peerless refinement: “When Mercedes-Benz launches a new S-Class the rest of the world gasps in amazement;” explained David Motton, Editor of What Car? magazine.
Revered for its peerless combination of elegance, performance, and innovation, the all-new S-Class is larger inside and out, with even greater luxury than ever before. A more powerful V-8 engine, industry-leading technology, and some of the most sophisticated automotive safety systems in production today, reassert the S-Class as the foremost luxury sedan in the world.
For several decades now, the S-Class has been the car to aspire to, a symbol that you’ve arrived, and also a very safe, secure, and comfortable big sedan. Factor in the pop-culture-icon success of high-luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, and it’s obvious that especially in the U.S. the landscape of the high-end luxury market has changed a bit in the past few years.
The ninth-generation S-Class is the benchmark by which all other luxury automobiles are measured. Across all three models, the S550, S600, and S65 AMG, you’ll discover a comprehensive range of high-performance engines, and the foremost in safety, comfort, and style.
That car was derided for its size and weight, so the S-class was shrunk and lightened. Competitive pressure, particularly from Lexus, brought cost considerations into the equation, which showed through in the subpar interior materials. And the styling, a huge departure from the slab-sided early ’90s car, was almost pandering in its attempt to be fun and approachable.
Designed to replace the S500, the new S550 features a boatload of new and exciting features designed exclusively for luxury loving customers. These features include everything from Brake Assist technology and available Parktronic knowledge to the highly toted, Mercedes created Electronic Stability Program. Equipped with a powerful 5.5 liter V8, the new S550 is top-of-the-line both insides and out.
The S550 went on sale in mid-February, starting at $86,525. Expect a fully loaded version of the S550 to top out at around $105,000. A $1,000 gas-guzzler tax is included in the sticker price of the S550.
Rather than disguising the car’s size, the exterior design is not afraid to play it up. Whereas the current model had soft, rounded forms, the new car’s flanks are long stretches of creased sheetmetal, punctuated by gigantic wheel arches. Up front, there’s a whole new attitude. As Mercedes-Benz design chief Hans-Dieter Futschik sees it, the old S-class "had a smiling face" that "looked at you and said, ’Come on, don’t you love me?’ " The new one dispenses with the puppy dog act and recaptures the S-class mojo with a more prominent grille that is larger and higher.
Power tilt/sliding tinted glass sunroof with one-touch express-open/close and memory.
Electrically heated rear window with auto-shutoff based on time, driving speed, and outside temperature.
Rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers measure rainfall on windshield and adjust wiper speed and frequency accordingly.
Dual heated power mirrors linked to driver’s seat memory with auto-dimming left-side mirror. Parking-assist right-side mirror can be programmed to tilt down when in Reverse.
Programmable power side mirrors can fold in when car is locked and extend when front door is opened.
Variable doorstop holds the door open at virtually any point, even on inclines/declines.
Nano-particle paint is more resistant to fine scratches caused by car washes and environmental factors.
Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge low-/high-beam headlamps with automatic level control, halogen auxiliary high beams, clear high-impact polycarbonate lenses and heated headlamp washers.
Halogen front foglamps and left rear red foglamp.
Selectable light-sensing headlamps, set via Auto position, automatically illuminate at dusk.
Programmable daytime running lamps with auto-on override in darkness.
Automatic lamp substitution uses a nearby lamp if a critical bulb fails.
Touch Turn Signals flash three times with one touch of turn-signal lever. Auxiliary LED turn signal indicators are integrated into side mirror housings.
Locking and security
SmartKey uses an electronic code to unlock the steering column and ignition. Removing SmartKey from ignition disables engine computer to help prevent unauthorized starting.
SmartKey remote control integrates: Door lock/unlock buttons, trunk opener, removable valet key, and panic alarm. Driver may selectively unlock only the driver’s door and fuel filler, or all doors plus the trunk and fuel filler.
SmartKey offers infrared-remote opening/closing of windows and sunroof, and can remotely turn on Active Ventilated front seats (if equipped). View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Driver-programmable driveaway locking automatically locks the doors when the car reaches 9 mph.
Night security illumination uses the car’s exterior lights to help illuminate a path after parking.
Locator lighting uses the car’s lights to help light a return path when the car is remote-unlocked in darkness. Unlocking the car activates the illuminated entry system.
Anti-Theft Alarm Notification with towaway protection and remote panic feature.
Emergency trunk release is located inside trunk and illuminated for 60 minutes after trunk is closed.
Integrated three-button garage door control, compatible with HomeLink components and some other systems.
Tele Aid GPS-based Stolen Vehicle Recovery allows law enforcement agencies to track and recover stolen vehicle.
Tele Aid Remote Door Unlock allows owner to have doors automatically unlocked in the event that the SmartKey becomes locked inside the vehicle.
Tele Aid Automatic Alarm Notification alerts Mercedes-Benz to contact vehicle owner if the antitheft alarm sounds
Infrared headlamps for more safety after dark
With the innovative night view assist, which made its debut in the new S Class, Mercedes-Benz is contributing further to reducing the risk of accidents at night. This system uses infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye and therefore does not dazzle oncoming traffic. Two infrared headlamps illuminate the road, significantly extending the driver’s range of vision when on low beam. An infrared camera mounted on the inside of the windscreen records the reflected image of the road ahead and displays this in the instrument cluster.
The interior-design team appears to have kicked out the cost accountants, judging from the richer environment. Supple leather covers not only the seats but also the doors and the in-strument panel. Mercedes has finally abandoned its black plastic buttons for ribbed chrome. Cool mood lighting emanates from under the wood strip that wraps around the cabin.
But of course, the German auto industry being what it is, Mercedes-Benz also has introduced its own iDrive-style control system into the S-class (to paraphrase what your mother used to say, if one of the German luxury carmakers jumped off a bridge, the other two would surely follow).
The knob controller itself works every bit as beautifully as BMW’s, and it sits just below a padded handrest perched at the leading edge of the armrest. The handrest opens up to reveal a keypad for the mobile phone. Nice as it is ergonomically, sometimes you just don’t want the distraction of wading through menus to operate frequently used devices. Mercedes does have separate climate controls and a few audio controls on the steering wheel, but too many functions require gazing at the screen.
The navigation system, which is standard, is contained within the Comand system. Ours has a course set for Saint Moritz, Switzerland, a scenic, 200-mile drive from our starting point in Milan. We roll out of the parking lot and set off.
Rolls-Royce makes much use of the word "waft" to describe its cars in motion. After only a few miles, it becomes apparent that the 2007 S-class wafts, too. The steering, which in previous generations was firm and purposeful, is now creamy, taking a split second to inject some polite resistance but never really requiring any more effort as you wind in more lock. Still, the system is very precise, reassuringly so as we thread our way through one tunnel after another, seemingly always alongside a semitruck or a car pulling a trailer.
COMAND controller provides easy and convenient operation of the vehicle’s systems, such as audio, climate control, navigation, multicontour seat adjustments, telephone, and most vehicle settings.
Multifunction steering wheel provides additional convenient controls for basic audio, voice control, and phone functions, as well as operation of the multifunction display.
Fingertip shift buttons behind steering wheel.
Built-in phone keypad and control near armrest for easy access to Hands-Free Communication System.
Adjustable fiber-optic ambient lighting under the door and cockpit wood trim panels and additional ambient lighting throughout the cabin provide gentle illumination while driving in darkness.
Electric park brake with automatic disengagement feature when vehicle is put into gear and driver applies the gas.
Chrome-framed analog clock.
Power rear-window sunshade with one-touch express up/down.
Power windows with one-touch express up/down.
Auto-dimming rearview mirror.
4-way (tilt/telescoping) power steering column linked to driver’s seat memory.
Programmable easy-exit feature moves driver’s seat back and/or raises steering column when SmartKey is removed from ignition and restores position when key is reinserted.
Four illuminated vanity mirrors (in sun visors and rear-cabin ceiling). Dual front and rear reading lamps.
Front center armrest, which can be opened from both sides. Rear folding center armrest, with enclosed storage, includes two cupholders. Illuminated glovebox.
Illuminated trunk with umbrella holder, grocery bag hooks, and tie-down hooks.
Dual-zone automatic climate control with individual driver and front passenger control of temperature, speed and airflow distribution via hard keys (airflow and temperature only) or COMAND system.
Adjustable high-flow/low-draft vents in dash, front doors, rear of console, footwells, and adjacent to rear doors.
Electrostatic dust and pollen filter.
Activated charcoal filter with smog-sensing automatic recirculation of filtered cabin air.
Sun sensor helps compensate for the effects of direct sunlight on the occupants.
Humidity/dewpoint sensor helps reduce window fogging during humid weather, and helps prevent overdrying of cooled air.
Tunnel mode offers one-touch closing of all windows, the sunroof, and cabin air intake via the air-recirculation button. Pressing and holding button again restores previous window and sunroof positions.
Seat-belt usage sensors allow climate control to focus on occupied seating positions.
Seating and Trim
14-way power-adjustable front seats with 3-position memory. Driver’s seat memory includes steering column and outside mirror positions, and is linked to SmartKey user-recognitions.
Three-level heated front seats.
Driver and front passenger power-adjustable lumbar support.
Leather upholstery hand-fitted to each seat, head restraint, and center armrest. Leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Hand-polished Burl Walnut wood trim on dash, COMAND controller console, and doors.
Stainless-steel door sill trim. Velour floor carpeting and floor mats.
Audio, Navigation, and Telematics
COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system integrates: hard-drive based navigation; AM/FM stereo/weatherband radio, and 8" color-LCD screen. Controls for Hands-Free Communication System; mode-dependent soft keys alongside screen for easy access to commands and menus.
Fiber-optic network offers precise, high-speed communication among components.
harman/kardon® LOGIC7® digital surround sound system, with 14 speakers, 5.1-channel amplifier, multichannel digital surround-sound technology1, and Digital Dynamic Volume Control.
COMAND’s 20 gigabyte hard-drive-based in-dash navigation system uses Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to determine the current location of your car, with map database for the contiguous U.S., Canada, and Oahu, Hawaii.
Integrated single-feed 6-disc changer.
Memory card slot allows you to transfer digital audio files from your PC onto a memory and play them through the COMAND system.
Hands-Free Communication System with voice control.
Feature Spotlight Tele Aid uses GPS satellites plus a cellular link to provide 24-hour live assistance for emergency aid (SOS button), information (i-button), or Roadside Assistance Service (wrench button). Basic Tele Aid Security & Care service includes Automatic Collision Notification, stolen vehicle recovery, Remote Door Unlock service and Dealer Connect.2 View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Integrated Restraint System Driver and front passenger are each provided with an adaptive dual-stage front air bag, a side-impact air bag, and a 3-point seat belt with an Emergency Tensioning Device (ETD) and belt force limiter.3 Second-row passengers are each provided with a 3-point seat belt with ETD, belt force limiter, and side-impact air bag.
Feature Spotlight Window Curtain Air Bags In a side impact exceeding a preset threshold, a multi-chamber air bag deploys along the front and rear side windows on the affected side of the car.3 The integrated rollover sensor automatically deploys the ETDs and, if deemed necessary, the Head Protection Curtains in the event of a detected rollover.3 View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Adaptive dual-stage front air bags are deployed in response to frontal impact severity exceeding a preset deployment threshold.
Feature Spotlight PRE-SAFE® helps prepare occupants for a possible collision before it occurs. If PRE-SAFE senses a possible accident based on brake pedal application pattern, steering wheel input pattern, or ESP activation level, it will take action to help protect vehicle occupants better depending on the situation. Measures include: electrically tensioning the front seat belts, adjusting the front passenger seat (and rear seats, with Rear Seat Package) for potentially more favorable seat-belt and air-bag effectiveness, inflating side bolsters and seat cushions of front seats on vehicles equipped with multicontour seats, and (if possible rollover is detected or the vehicle is about to spin out of control) closing the sunroof (not applicable with Panorama roof) and closing the windows. If no collision occurs, PRE-SAFE releases the front seat-belt tensioners, and occupants may re-adjust their seats, the windows and the sunroof. View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Occupant Classification System4 (OCS) automatically turns the front passenger’s front air bag on or off, based on the weight category determined by weight sensor readings from the front passenger seat.
ETDs are deployed in a front or rear impact exceeding a preset threshold of severity, or in certain rollovers. A front ETD will not deploy if seat belt is unfastened.
Automatic Collision Notification engages Tele Aid SOS function if an air bag or ETD deploys.
Universal LATCH system (Lower Anchor Tethers for Children) at second-row seating positions. Selectable passenger seat-belt retractors help secure child seats.
Front seat belts include automatically height-adjusting shoulder belts (as seats are moved fore and aft) and lower points attached to seat frames.
Front head restraints power-adjust for height and adjust fore and aft manually.
Three rear-seat head restraints, manually adjustable fore-aft. All three head restraints can also be remotely retracted by the driver for improved rearward vision when the rear seats are unoccupied. On models with power rear seats, rear head restraints rise automatically when seat belt is fastened.