What’s the big news?
Mercedes-Benz has updated its S-Class flagship for 2017. More than anything, this is a technical update, so we’re looking at new engines, advanced driver aids and interior features rather than all-new bodywork.
The clever touch here surrounds Mercedes’ upgraded “Distronic” cruise control system that can now steer itself through roundabouts and other complex traffic situations. It will automatically slow down for tight corners, and safely change lanes at the flick of an indicator switch, making the S-Class one of the most advanced semi-autonomous cars on the road.
What about those engines?
The core S500 model and its 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 have been replaced by a new S560 powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 similar to what you’ll find in the latest Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan. The engine makes 345kW and 700Nm in a more sensible S-Class tune, and unlike the AMG models, isn’t hand-built in the performance arm’s Affalterbach headquarters.
Diesel models include new S350d and S400d variants powered by a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder motor with a choice of 210kW/600Nm or 250kW/700Nm outputs along with fuel use well under 6L/100km – not bad for a two-tonne limo.
Mercedes says the new S-Class will eventually be offered with a new M 256 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbo petrol engine paired with 48-volt electrical infrastructure including a hybrid mode and new electric turbo setup. A plug-in hybrid version of the six-cylinder S-Class will offer 50 kilometres of range, while an upcoming AMG version of the same engine should offer around 330kW of power, as well as a serious shove of electric torque.
Is there an AMG version?
Of course. The 4.0-litre V8-powered S63 sedan (above) now sends 450kW and 900Nm of punch through a fresh nine-speed automatic transmission (replacing a 430kW engine and seven-speed auto), while the range-topping 6.0-litre V12 twin-turbo S65 (below) soldiers on with the same 463kW/1000Nm tune and seven-speed automatic gearbox.
As before, right-hand-drive versions of the S-Class AMG must make do with rear-wheel-drive traction (other markets get all-wheel-drive) and the top speed is limited to 250km/h. But if you ask nicely, and shell out for an AMG driver’s package, that limit increases to 300km/h.
You also get revised bodywork and a new AMG-specific steering wheel that will filter down to more affordable models.
Does it look any different?
There are a couple of cosmetic changes, including new headlamps with three “torches” of light on the inside edge. Mercedes-Benz has moved to make it easier to spot differences between its sedans by giving the small C-Class one stripe of illumination, the medium-sized E-Class two strips and three for the full-sized S-Class. There are also new bumpers with more aggressive air intakes similar to what you might expect from an AMG.
Crystalline taillights similar to the latest E-Class anchor a rear look helped by new exhaust pipe treatments, while there are a new selection of wheels ranging from 16 to 20 inches in diameter.
What about the inside?
The current-generation S-Class was the first ‘Benz to offer twin widescreen displays, which have since been upgraded with sharper units that sit behind a single sheet of glass – there’s no longer a physical barrier between the two displays.
Mercedes has also ditched the current car’s old-school two-spoke steering wheel in favour of a sportier item with jewel-like touch pads near the thumb rests that you use to control each screen. The new driver displays offer more potential for customisation – including a dedicated AMG readout with speed and gear position writ large. There are new leather colour combinations, additional ambient LED lighting points and extra speakers for its 1520 watt Burmester hi-fi stereo system.
It is, and that’s before you tap into the car’s new “wellness” features, that combine massaging seats, climate control, perfume, lighting and musical elements to run through a range of programs to relax, invigorate or comfort occupants. The system can even analyse your favourite music and assign it to one of the routines based on the track’s tempo.
If that’s not enough, you can plump for an updated version of the temp-end Mercedes-Maybach S600 – think reclining rear seats, champagne coolers, a mobile office and more. It’s a first-class jet on wheels.
Any other toys?
Mercedes has modified its Magic Body Control system that scans the road ahead for imperfections before adjusting the behaviour of its suspension, leading to what should be an even more plush ride than before. It also leans into corners thanks to a new version of Benz’ active body control system borrowed from the luxurious S-Class Coupe.
There are also ultra-long-range LED headlamps that promise to light the road ahead for 650 metres, inductive charging panels for smartphones, a personal concierge phone service and more.
The new S-Class arrives locally in December.