Mercedes-Benz has officially revealed its brand new S-Class. Three engineering priorities underlie the new car: “Intelligent Drive”, “Efficient Technology” and “Essence of Luxury”. As with all new S-Class developments, the vehicle is packed with new features that make it a technological spearhead not just for Mercedes-Benz but for automotive development as a whole.
In terms of drive systems, the new line-up features two hybrid versions, a petrol model and a diesel variant: S 400 HYBRID, S 500, S 350 BlueTEC and S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID. All models boast up to 20 percent lower fuel consumption than the outgoing model series.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars says: “Rather than being about safety or aesthetics, power or efficiency, comfort or dynamism, our aspirations were ‘the best or nothing’ in every respect. No other car stands for the Mercedes-Benz brand promise more than the S-Class.”
On the outside, the radiator grille is now larger, more upright and distinctly three-dimensional in design. A character line – the brand’s hallmark “Dropping Line” – structures the side wall and descends from front to rear. The convex-concave effect of the entire flank gives rise to an elongated car body.
“The sophisticated design of the S-Class has always been an expression of luxury and automotive grandeur of its era. And our new S-Class continues this tradition. With its classic architecture and flowing silhouette, it is a modern embodiment of sensual clarity. The design draws a line from the sophisticated, progressive design idiom to the classic elegance of our 1930s cars – intelligence that speaks to the emotions. Stylish sportiness and sensual forms in synthesis with timeless clarity and effortless superiority make the S-Class a true design icon,” states design chief Gorden Wagener.
The slightly slanting form has aerodynamic advantages. Horizontal lines running from the boot lid to the bumper emphasise the car’s width when viewed from the rear. The hallmark signature of the Mercedes-Benz designers can also be seen in the rear windscreen, which cuts into the C-pillars. The upper area of the glass is rounded, lending it somewhat of a coupé-like character. The new-style tail lights, meanwhile, are completely encased by the car body.
With a drag coefficient of cd=0.24, the new design undercuts the previous model’s figure by two hundredths and sets a new benchmark in this segment. The S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is set to go even lower still with a cd figure of 0.23 owing to additional aerodynamic optimisation measures.
The lightweight index – the torsional stiffness in relation to weight and vehicle size – of the aluminium hybrid bodyshell has been improved by 50 percent compared to the predecessor model.
The interior is characterised by distinctly horizontal elements and lines. The redesigned display extends behind the two-spoke steering wheel – reminiscent of the S-Class heritage – as a key element of the horizontal alignment. It replaces the traditional instrument cluster and combines numerous other functions in a visually and ergonomically efficient manner. The entire display unit appears to be free-floating, an impression reinforced by ambience backlighting.
The unit formed by the centre air vents and the analogue clock is set into three-dimensional wood trim. For the first time this wood trim feature is positioned very low and extends across the entire width of the dashboard and doors. With this layout the designers claim to have created an association with the wingbeat of a bird.
As an additional individualisation feature, the “First Class Rear” incorporates a Business centre console combining personal comfort with practical convenience (integration of a telephone handset, additional stowage compartments, folding table, etc.).
For the first time in the history of the S-Class, the development focus was on the long-wheelbase saloon. Whereas in Europe and North America owners of an S-Class are frequently behind the wheel themselves, the S-Class is very much a chauffeur-driven vehicle in Asia. A logical consequence is the introduction of a number of new features specifically related to comfort and safety in the rear.
As another world first, the new saloon has an “active perfuming system” as part of the AIR-BALANCE package. ‘Active’ means that the perfuming system is switched on and off manually, with manual adjustment of the intensity. The perfume atomisation system individualises the smell of the vehicle interior. It neither changes the interior smell permanently, nor are perfume molecules deposited on fabric surfaces or clothing. The fragrance is discreet and mild, and dissipates rapidly.
LED technology: the first ever car without a single light bulb
100 years or so after the introduction of electric lighting in motor vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is now making a complete switch to LED technology – the new S-Class is the first vehicle in the world whose interior and exterior do without a single light bulb.
The lighting’s multi-level functionality is another world first: out of consideration for any road users behind, the intensity of the brake lights is reduced at night or while waiting at traffic lights. Almost 500 LEDs illuminate the road, the vehicle, the interior and the boot. Depending on equipment, these include:
• Headlamps: each with up to 56 LEDs
• Tail lights: each with up to 35 LEDs (plus 4 for the rear fog lamp)
• Interior (including ambient lighting): approx. 300 LEDs
Visibility is enhanced by two assistance systems that have undergone some key improvements – Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus and Night View Assist Plus. Owing to a new stereo camera and multistage radar sensors, the S-Class has 360-degree all-round vision and detects potential dangers on the road better.
Model data at a glance:
|Model||S 400 HYBRID||S 500||S 350 BlueTEC||S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID|
|Number of cylinders/arrangement||6/V||8/V||6/V||4/in-line|
|Rated output (hp at rpm)||306 at 6500||455 at 5250||258 at 3600||204 at 4200|
|Rated output of electric motor (kW)||20||–||–||20|
|Rated torque (Nm at rpm)||370 at 3500-5250||700 at 1800-3500||620 at 1600-2400||500 at 1600-1800|
|Rated torque of electric motor (Nm)||250||–||–||250|
|Combined fuel consumption from (mpg)||44.8||32.7||51.3/50.4*||64.2|
|Combined CO2 emissions from (g/km)||147||199||146/148*||115|
|Acceleration 0-62 mph (s)||6.8||4.8||6.8||7.6|
|Top speed (mph)||155||155||155||148|
*Figures for short/long wheelbase