At this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz unveiled what should be the best S-Class the world has ever seen.
There’s no shortage of superlatives to describe this big boy. In fact, many people have called the S-Class the “best car in the world”, and surely from a few standpoints, it is.
It’s always jam-packed with groundbreaking technology, it’s usually the most comfortable and elegant car in its class, and always seems to keep BMW and Audi on their heels, scrambling to come up with better and better 7-Series and A8 models, every other eight years or so.
The current generation S-Class, the W222, was introduced back in mid 2013, which means this recently launched facelifted model is a car we’ll all have no choice but to get used to for the next four or so years. This is it, and as always, it’s a big deal in the luxury segment.
Now, even though we’ll be focusing mainly on how the facelifted W222 compares to the original version, we will mention that what Mercedes managed to do with this car feels like, at least on paper, a proper response to the ultra-modern BMW 7-Series and all of its fancy tech. Keep in mind, however, that Audi is going to make their move next, and the semi-autonomous tech inside the all-new A8 is expected to edge out the systems in both the Merc as well as the BMW.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at what’s new on this W222 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
You Say Minor Facelift, We Say “Yeah, But Just Look At It…”
Mercedes were never going to alter the exterior of the W222 in any significant fashion. The car has a certain timeless beauty to it and, if you ask 100 people, chances are that only a few, if any, will come out and straight up say they hate it. The same probably goes for the W221 as well.
With the 2018MY, you will find small tweaks both at the front as well as the rear. With the latter, aside from the slightly darkened taillights (with new LED lamps), we can’t really see any other changes – whereas at the front, we’re looking at new headlights, radiator grille and a new and more aggressive bumper.
Changes to the radiator grille are really tough to spot, but the revised bumper and headlights however do stand out. If you look carefully, you’ll see how the overall shape of the headlight is almost the same as before, except that with a slightly flatter bottom, so as to appear less elongated.
The technology and graphics inside the headlights is different as well, as unlike before, you’ve not got three distinctive torches of light used as an exclusive design element. You can also get it with the new (and optional) Multibeam LED lamps, because why not?
Step Inside Sir, Forget Our Rivals And Just Relax
Well, this is awkward, because the last thing BMW or Audi needed from Mercedes was an improved interior on its flagship model. Since we’ll get into the gadgets later on, we’re going to talk cabin aesthetics first, as the updated S-Class now features new open-pore woods, new leather trim, as well as new color tones and available combos.
Perhaps the most obvious change compared to the non-facelifted model is the new flat bottom, three-spoke steering wheel, which is definitely more sporty. However, we do feel that some people could easily make a case for the older model’s steering wheel. Not only is the older car’s steering wheel more simple, but it’s also way more elegant and unique, and since this is a luxury car, perhaps Mercedes should have just updated the older design.
Comfy, Safe, Tech-Savvy? Check. Check. And Check.
Let’s face it, before BMW came out with their new 7-Series, we pretty much thought it didn’t get much better than what the pre-facelifted S-Class brought to the table in terms of features. But then we saw BMW’s 7-Series and 5-Series, Merc’s own new E-Class and suddenly, the W222 wasn’t the most advanced premium saloon on the market.
Safe to say, that is no longer the case. Mercedes stuffed this updated S-Class with all sorts of cool and functional features, such as touch-sensitive controls for the steering wheel, updated sound system, wireless charging function, new displays that blend together under one sheet of glass, or the standard Keyless start. Compared to the previous car, the display layout does appear to be more streamlined, but does it make a huge difference? Probably not.
Another highlight is the ENERGIZING Comfort feature, which Mercedes says is a first in the industry. This system works by linking various comfort features (such as climate control, heating, lighting etc) in order to create a bespoke “wellness” setup, tailored to whatever mood the driver happens to be in. You even get suitable music for the ten minutes in which these programs run.
Of course, an update to the S-Class wouldn’t be complete without new semi-autonomous functions. Those lucky enough to afford one, will finally be able to park it using the Remote Parking Assist function, just like you would with a BMW 7-Series. Among its several new active safety systems, we’ll single out the Active Proximity Assist, Active Steer Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist and Active Activity Activation. OK, that last one we made up – but this car is anything if not active in trying to keep you safe.
Drive Or Be Driven? The New S-Class Should Excel At Both
While we can’t really tell you how the facelifted W222 drives compared to the older car (you’ll have to wait until the first batch of test drives comes in), Mercedes says that you’ll now experience a smoother ride thanks to its new curve-tilting function. This system works by tilting the body to the inside of the turn by up to 2.65 degrees, thus reducing the centrifugal forces perceived by the passengers. Will it make a big difference? Hard to say, especially with the S-Class already being so darn comfortable.
What really stands out, if you like performance that is, is the new 4.0-liter biturbo V8, pumping out 612 PS through the S63 4MATIC+’s veins. That’s an extra 27 horses compared to the old/current S63, and it results in a 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of just 3.5 seconds. In case you like math, that means it’s faster than the BMW M760Li xDrive by 0.2 seconds, and that bad boy is packing a massive 6.6-liter V12.
You also get a AMG SpeedShift MCT 9-speed sports transmission that should make your already-fast S-Class, even faster. The variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system will help with that as well.
So there you have it. Is the facelifted S-Class worth trading in your current model and going with the upgrade? That’s up to you to decide. Sound off below.