When Mercedes-Benz introduced the latest-generation S-Class in 2013, a new benchmark in the luxury class was established. And although BMW launched a redesigned 7 Series just last year, the S-Class remained the top-selling sedan in this class thanks to its imposing looks, tremendous interior, and state-of-the-art tech. But the sedan is already three years old as of 2017 and Mercedes has now rolled out a facelifted version with even more goodies.
Unveiled at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show, the revised S-Class is almost identical to the outgoing model as far as looks go. Novelties include a redesigned grille with three twin louvers and vertical strips in high-gloss black, new LED lights, and lower rear bumper section. However, modifications are more notable inside and under the hood.
The cabin now comes with the company’s latest 12.3-inch screens in the instrument cluster and center stack. The full-size also gained the Touch Control Buttons on the steering wheel that respond to swiping motions like the screen of a smartphone. This feature debuted on the latest E-Class last year. Additionally, the S-Class received all the semi-autonomous driving tech from its smaller sibling, including Distronic Active Proximity Control, which uses GPS data to slow the car down for roundabouts, junctions, and corners, among others.
As far as materials go, there are two new natural grain ash wood trim offerings and three new upholstery color combinations, Silk Beige/Deep-Sea Blue, Magma Grey/Espresso Brown and Mahogany/Silk Beige.
There’s even bigger news under the hood, especially for customers in Europe. A 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel replaced the existing V-6. The new mill cranks out 282 horsepower and 443 pound-feet in the S350d (a 27-horsepower increase and 14-pound-foot decrease) and 335 horses and 516 pound-feet in the S400d. The latter is the most powerful diesel Mercedes-Benz ever. In the gasoline department, the S500 model was replaced by the S560, with the old 4.7-liter V-8 ditched in favor of the newer, twin-turbo, 4.0-liter with 463 horsepower, and 516 pound-feet, and cylinder deactivation for enhanced fuel economy.
The revised sedan will hit showrooms in July, likely with a slightly higher price tag.
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Why it Matters
Granted, the facelifted S-Class doesn’t come with any surprises, but it gets all the updates it deserves as the company’s flagship vehicle. Let’s face it, it was a bit ridiculous to talk about the semi-autonomous drive and new tech in the E-Class but ignore it when talking about the S-Class, especially with the new BMW 7 Series being superior in that department. But not anymore. The S-Class is now as ready as it can be to once again lead the full-size luxury segment in every respect.
The newly updated S-Class Sedan celebrates its world premiere with extensive innovations at the Shanghai Auto Show. Among the highlights are the extended suite of Intelligent Drive features that take another step towards autonomous driving and a new generation of Mercedes-Benz engines. The undisputed leader in the premium segment with regards to comfort and wellness sets new standards in the interior with the new generation of dual 12.3" high-resolution displays with a single bonded glass panel, new trim options and new upholstery offerings.
The top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz sedan takes another big step towards the future of autonomous driving and elevates Intelligent Drive to the next level. For example, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now provide even more support for the driver to keep a safe distance and steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of curves or junctions.
Further unique features of the S-Class in its segment include the LED Intelligent Light System with Ultra Wide Beam, Road Surface Scan (the forward-looking detection of bumps) and curve-tilting function.
ENERGIZING Comfort is also a world-first entering series production. This optional feature links various comfort systems in the vehicle together, such as climate control, ambient lighting, massage and fragrancing functions, and allows customers to configure a specific wellness setup to suit their current mood or needs, enhancing physical comfort and performance on the road.
"The development of the new S-Class was extremely extensive. With a whole series of new features and functions, the S-Class remains a technological pioneer," says Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The Mercedes-Benz flagship model was the best-selling luxury sedan in the world in 2016. Since 2013, the company has sold well over 300,000 sedans.
Three accents of light as an exclusive exterior design feature
Modern luxury in the new S-Class is clearly evident in the impressive quality of materials and workmanship. All models are fitted with a new grille: the models with six and eight-cylinder engines sport three twin louvers as well as vertical strips with a high-gloss black finish.
On the Mercedes-Maybach, the upgraded front with extensive chrome trim underscores its exceptional status in the S-Class lineup. Also new is the Maybach logo between the louvers of the radiator grille.
In conjunction with the new LED Intelligent Light System, the S-Class features three distinctive accents of light as an exclusive design element, as well as the newly redesigned sporty front bumper with pronounced air intakes. The new LED taillamps, reminiscent of crystal jewels, stand out at the rear and ensure a characteristic design both by day and by night.
All models are fitted with a redesigned lower bumper section with an integrated visible tailpipe trim. The tailpipes are framed by a chrome trim element, which spans the entire width of the vehicle. Two new 20" alloy wheels are also available.
Control and display concept with widescreen cockpit and new generation of steering wheels
The interior of the new S-Class is characterized by two, new high-resolution displays, each with a screen diagonal of 12.3 inches. Visually, the two displays under one shared glass cover blend into a wide-screen cockpit; this central element consequently emphasizes the horizontal orientation of the interior design.
Like the instrument cluster, this wide-screen cockpit contains a large display with virtual instruments in the direct field of vision of the driver as well as a central display above the center console. With the fully digital cockpit, the driver can choose from three different display styles (Classic, Sport and Progressive) and also configure the information and views relevant to them.
The newly redesigned S-Class has Touch Control Buttons on the steering wheel that respond to swiping motions like the screen of a smartphone and enables the driver to control the entire multimedia system without having to take their hands off the steering wheel.
The multimedia system can also be operated via the touchpad with controller in the center console and by Voice Control. The operation of Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC or standard cruise control is controlled via steering wheel-mounted controls.
Authentic materials and meticulous attention to detail
High-quality materials define the interior of the S-Class, including the two new natural grain ash wood trim offerings. The refined look and feel created through meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship are a Mercedes-Benz hallmark.
The material and color concept has also been carefully composed, and features a wide range of brown tones, including three new upholstery color combinations: Silk Beige/Deep-Sea Blue, Magma Grey/Espresso Brown and Mahogany/Silk Beige.
Lighting atmosphere with 64 colors
As before, the interior lighting uses only long-lasting, energy-saving LED technology. With 64 colors, the optionally extended ambient lighting offers a wealth of individual settings. It adds lighting elements on the trim elements, central display, stowage facility at the front of the center console, handle recesses, door pockets, in the front and rear footwells and on the overhead control panel when the vehicle is equipped with the Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound System.
All S-Class models are also fitted as standard with KEYLESS-GO®.
World-first: wellness while driving
ENERGIZING Comfort is a world-first entering series production. This optional feature links various comfort systems in the vehicle together. It systematically uses the functions of the climate control system (including fragrancing) and the seats (heater, ventilation, massage), the console heating as well as lighting and musical atmospheres, and enables a specific wellness set-up tailored to the mood and need of the driver. This enhances the physical comfort and performance both while driving and during breaks. ENERGIZING Comfort can be experienced in all seats, depending on the equipment level.
The following six Energizing Comfort programs can be selected:
Training (three trainings – muscle relaxation, muscle activation and balance - each with several exercises)
Each program runs for ten minutes and are visualized on the headunit with color graphics, and backed by suitable music. Five songs are already stored in the program. The key function in the "Vitality" program, for example, is fast and upbeat music. If personal music selections are available, for example via the Media Interface, the system analyzes them in the background and assigns them to a program based on the beats per minute (bpm). Individual functions of the program can also be deactivated.
ENERGIZING Comfort also incorporates ambient lighting, which is harmoniously tailored to each of the individual screen designs. The light stages the interior like a work of art by composing color worlds from different colors.
The color worlds can be temporarily replaced with special effects – for example, a special lighting atmosphere can welcome the driver. In addition, the climate control system indicates whether the temperature is adjusted up or down through the color of the ambient lighting. The brightness of the LEDs adapts equally variably and can be set in five levels and four zones: wide-screen cockpit, area of front seats, rear compartment, and all lights.
In addition, the ambient lighting creates emotionally appealing contrasts and structures the interior into levels. 64 colors, ten color worlds and three different lighting zones (footwells, trim element level and wide-screen cockpit) enable an avant-garde lighting scene with spectacular color changes.
Powertrain: new engines with landmark technology
The S-Class model range now includes the S450 and S450 4MATIC with a 3.0L V6 biturbo engine that produces 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
The new 4.0L V8 comes to the starting line with 463 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque in the Mercedes-Benz S560 and Mercedes-Maybach S560 4MATIC. The new biturbo engine is among the most economical V8 engines in the world, and consumes about ten percent less fuel than the predecessor. To lower the fuel consumption, four cylinders of the new V8 are deactivated simultaneously under partial load with the help of the CAMTRONIC valve-lift adjustment system. This reduces gas-cycle losses and enhances the overall efficiency of the four firing cylinders by shifting the operating point towards higher loads. The turbochargers positioned in the V of the cylinder banks represent another special feature.
For superior performance with significantly reduced fuel consumption, the Handcrafted-AMG 4.0L V8 biturbo engine with cylinder deactivation replaces the previous 5.5L V8 biturbo engine in the Mercedes-AMG S65. Despite less displacement, the new engine produces 603 hp.
Intelligent Drive: the next step in driver assistance systems
The S-Class takes another major step towards autonomous driving, elevating Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive to the next level. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance and stay in their lane. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of curves or intersections, which is complemented by a considerably improved Active Lane Change Assist and additional functions of Active Emergency Stop Assist.
Thanks to enhanced camera and radar systems, the facelifted S-Class has an even better view of the surrounding traffic. In addition, for the first time it makes use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behavior.
This means that Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC is able to assist the driver in many situations based on the route, and conveniently adjust the vehicle speed accordingly.
The "Assistance Graphics" menu of the instrument panel shows the driver at one glance which assistance functions are selected and to what situations the systems are currently responding to. Unmistakable icons provide information on the screen as well in the head-up display and all functions are now controlled from the steering wheel. The new Driver Assistance Package includes but is not limited to the following functions:
Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC uses substantially more map and navigation data, can support the driver based on the route, and Active Speed Limit Assist is able to conveniently adjust the vehicle’s speed.
Active Steering Assist has been noticeably improved across its entire performance range, resulting in markedly enhanced customer benefits.
Active Lane Change Assist has also been considerably upgraded. Now tapping the indicator stalk is all it takes to initiate a lane change. This lane change is executed within the next ten seconds and indicated in the instrument cluster with the appropriate visual display, if the vehicle sensor system does not detect any vehicles in the relevant safety zone the driver might have missed.
Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle to a stop when Active Steering Assist is engaged and the system recognizes that the driver is not intervening in the driving process on a sustained basis.
Traffic Sign Assist: Posted speed limits are displayed for the current section of the route through image recognition and information from the digital road map of the navigation system. The vehicle speed is compared with the speed limit. When the driver selects the appropriate settings, a visual/ audible warning signal is issued any time the speed limit is exceeded.
Ride quality: MAGIC BODY CONTROL improved and now with CURVE function
The S-Class made a technological breakthrough in 2013 with Road Surface Scan, a system that detects bumps ahead of the vehicle and adjusts the Active Body Control suspension accordingly. In the facelifted S-Class, this suspension control is further improved. The stereo multipurpose camera of the system now scans the road even more thoroughly, even in dusk and at higher speeds. Another comfort enhancement is the CURVE function, available in the S-Class Sedan for the first time (previously available on the S-Class Coupe only), allowing the body to tilt to the inside of the turn by up to 2.65 degrees, reducing the centrifugal forces perceived by passengers.
Long-distance vision: LED Intelligent Light System with Ultra Wide Beam
In 2013, the S-Class became the first automobile to exclusively use LEDs as light sources. The LED Intelligent Light System is now optionally available with advanced LED headlamps and Ultra Wide Beam high beams. The Ultra Wide Beam produce light at an increased width for maximum illumination of the road and surround area. For the driver, this means a clear improvement of the already great lighting performance of the LED Intelligent Light System. Adaptive Highbeam Assist is also part of the LED Intelligent Light System and allows drivers to drive with activated main beams without dazzling other road users. When there are oncoming vehicles or vehicles in front, the LEDs of the high beam modules are switched off. The other areas of the road continue to be illuminated with the mainbeam.
Wireless charging of smartphones and new Concierge Service
The new headunit generation expands telephone options. With the help of Near Field Communication, compatible smartphones can be charged wirelessly (wireless charging works with all mobile devices that support or can be retrofitted to support the Qi wireless charging standard). The charging pad is integrated into the stowage compartment at the front of the center console.
The available Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound System with an output of 1520 watts was expanded even further with a speaker in the overhead control panel and two speakers in the sides.
The mbrace® Concierge service puts a host of individual services at the disposal of mbrace® subscribers: from making restaurant reservations, gathering information on movie times or sporting events and obtaining route guidance. Subscribers can establish a direct connection to mbrace® Concierge through the i-button in their vehicle. The personal concierge takes care of everything else.