Due to hit European markets this July, the newly refreshed Mercedes-Benz S-Class is bound to set new standards in interior quality while also taking itself one step closer to fully autonomous driving.
Among its many highlights is an all-new and very efficient engine range, boasting multiple new electrification technologies. Of course with the S-Class, efficiency and autonomous driving will go hand in hand in the future, as this facelifted model elevates its self-driving capabilities with its Intelligent Drive system.
"The development of the new S-Class was extremely extensive. With a whole series of new features and functions the S-Class remains the technological pioneer," states Ola Källenius, responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development.
Before we get to all these new features, let's talk aesthetics, because this is one category where the S-Class has never taken a wrong step in. In case you missed it, all facelifted models are fitted with a new radiator grille, where six and eight-cylinder versions have three twin louvres as well as verticle strips with a high-gloss black finish in the grille, whereas the long wheelbase and V12-powered models get additional chrome-finish vertical strips. Also new is the Maybach logotype found between the louvres of the radiator grille.
Aside from the new and optional Multibeam LED headlights, the updated S-Class comes with three distinctive torches of light as an exclusive design element. At the rear, there are new LED lamps which look like jewels, plus a light show that plays when the car is locked or unlocked to go with the three horizontal pairs of fiber optics.
In terms of styling, also new is the front bumper with pronounced air intakes and sporty looks - one could argue that the regular S-Class now looks as aggressive as the old non-facelifted AMG versions in terms of their front bumper design. At the back, all models come with redesigned lower bumpers, featuring integrated visible tailpipe trim. The tailpipes themselves are framed by a chrome trim element, spanning the entire width of the vehicle.
Buyers can also choose between seven new alloy wheel designs with diameters between 17 and 20", available either as standard or as optional extras.
Inside, the restyled S-Class boasts two new high-resolution displays, each with a screen diagonal of 12.3 inches. The two displays blend together under one shared glass cover, thus emphasizing the horizontal orientation of the interior design. Also new are the touch-sensitive controls in the steering wheel. They respond to swiping motions just like the screen of a smartphone, enabling the driver to control the infotainment system without having to remove his or her hands off the steering wheel. Being able to operate DISTRONIC and cruise control features directly from the steering wheel will be a first for S-Class drivers and owners.
Quality-wise, the new S-Class now gets open-pore woods as well as leather-trimmed doors and upper body edges, depending on trim level. The material and color concept has been meticulously composed, featuring a wide range of brown tones, including new color combos such as magma gray/espresso brown or mahogany brown/silk beige.
As all S-Class models are fitted as standard with Keyless start function, Mercedes deemed fit to introduce a new generation of keys, with high-gloss black or high-gloss white designs and different ornamental frames.
Also new is the ENERGIZING Comfort Control feature, a world-first entering series production. What this does is it links various comfort systems in the vehicle together, systematically using the functions of the climate control, seats, wall heating, lighting and musical atmospheres, in order to enable a specific wellness setup, tailored to the mood and need of the user. Drivers can select from the following six programs: Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and Training - the latter consisting of muscle relaxation, muscle activation and balance, each with several exercises. These programs run for ten minutes and can be visualized on the head unit with color graphics, backed by suitable music.
In terms of powertrains, one in particular stands out, the new Mercedes-Benz S 560 4MATIC. It's powered by a new biturbo V8 engine, good for 469 PS and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque. Mercedes say this is among the most economical V8 petrol engines in the world, slurping up about 10% less fuel than its predecessor. In order to lower fuel consumptions, four out of the V8's eight cylinders are deactivated simultaneously under partial load thanks to the CAMTRONIC valve-lift adjustment system.
As for the diesels, you've got the S 350d 4MATIC and the S 400d 4MATIC, with 286 PS / 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) and 340 PS / 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) respectively. The former has a average fuel consumption of 5.5l/100 km (145 g/km CO2), whereas the more potent version will average 5.6l/100 km (147 g/km CO2). Both versions utilize the same new 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine, designed to comply with future emissions legislation (RDE - Real Driving Emissions).
Mercedes is also planning other new power units for the new S-Class, units that will include in-line six-cylinder petrol engines as well as a plug-in hybrid with around 50 km (31 miles) of electric range. Meanwhile, new technologies such as the 48-volt Integrated Starter Alternator and the electric booster compressor are celebrating their world premiere.
As previously stated, the facelifted S-Class has taken a major step towards fully autonomous driving by elevating Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive to a whole other level. Of course, we already knew about these features thanks to Mercedes releasing the info two weeks ago. In a nutshell, the new Driving Assistance package includes functions such as DISTRONIC Active Proximity Assist, Active Steer Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist and Traffic Sign Assist. New S-Class owners will also be able to use the Remote Parking Assist function to maneuver the vehicle into tight spaces or garages via their smartphone.
As for other improvements over the previous version, the updated S-Class now features a curve-tilting function, where the body tilts to the inside of the turn by up to 2.65 degrees in order to reduce the centrifugal forces perceived by the passengers. Also new is the wireless charging function, the Concierge Service, optional Multifunction Telephony, redesigned Bluetooth handset and updated Burmester 3D Surround Sound system (1,520 watts).
While that's pretty much it for the regular S-Class, there are still other variants to consider, such as the new Mercedes-AMG S 63 4MATIC+ and S 65.
What we have here is basically a case of out with the old, in with the new as the 5.5-liter biturbo V8 unit is stepping aside for a new 4.0-liter biturbo V8 with cylinder deactivation. The new engine produces 612 PS for the S 63 model (27 extra horses compared to the outgoing car), and will propel the vehicle to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.5 seconds - with a little help from the 900 Nm (664 lb-ft) of torque as well. Also, the old 7-speed gearbox is being replaced by the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9-speed sports transmission, working together with the fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system.
As for the flagship S 65, while it receives a visual update to underscore its superiority, its 6.0-liter V12 biturbo engine retains its old output of 630 PS, with a peak torque figure of 1,000 Nm (737 lb-ft).
"Impressive power, torque and performance on the road, as well as the expressive design distinguish the new Mercedes-AMG S 63 4MATIC+ and the new S 65. With the S 63, we additionally took a major development step that supports our leadership claim in the areas of driving dynamics, performance, traction, equipment and demonstrative comfort. The S 65 with its high-torque 6.0-litre V-12 Biturbo engine remains the spearhead of the S-Class models," stated Tobias Moers, Chairman of the managing board of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
Before we get into others AMG-specific features, it's important to note that only the LHD version of the S 63 4MATIC+ features the fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system as standard. The RHD model, while also equipped with the new engine and transmission, is available solely with rear-wheel drive - which also applies to the S 65.
Performance on the AMG-powered models is further aided by features such as the controllable AMG Performance exhaust system, the systematic lightweight design, specially developed suspension for maximum lateral and longitudinal dynamics and even the addition of the previously-mentioned curve-tilting function. AMG versions also get speed-sensitive steering, high-performance compound braking system (weight savings of up to 20%), and a simplified RACE START function where the driver only has to press hard on the brake pedal while fully depressing the accelerator at the same time in order for the S63 to storm forward with optimal traction.
As for styling, S 63 4MATIC+ and S 65 versions can be identified from the front by the MULTIBEAM LED headlights as well as the redesigned front apron with expressive jet wing. S63 models get 19" light-alloy wheels as standard, whereas the V12-powered S 65 comes with 20" 16-spoke wheels. At the rear, both models feature an updated rear apron with diffuser insert, as well as redesigned model-specific dual tailpipes. Inside, you'll find AMG power sports seats, a three-spoke Performance steering wheel with paddle shifters and an expanded AMG menu that can display the engine and transmission oil temperature, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, engine output and torque, boost pressure, tire temperatures and pressures as well as the current setup for the vehicle, among others things.
Customers interested in customizing their S 63 4MATIC+ and S 65 models even further can look at a host of options from the AMG Performance Studio. For example, the exterior can be tailored with the Night package, custom wheels and a Carbon package. Inside, options include the black nappa leather/DINAMICA microfiber Performance steering wheel and the carbon of carbon/piano lacquer trim elements.
Fans and future buyers unwilling to wait a few months until the car hits their local showrooms, should find their way to the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show where the facelifted S-Class is celebrating its world premiere.