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Mercedes S-class (2012) – the inside story

By Georg Kacher (artist's impressions by Christian Schulte)

Spy shots

12 May 2011 10:02

The new Mercedes S-class arrives in 2012 – and there will be four versions of the new S codenamed W222.

In an attempt to cover an even wider segment of the luxury car market, the new 2012 S-class will be offered in four different bodystyles: standard wheelbase saloon (2012), extended wheelbase saloon (2013), coupé (2013, replaces the CL), and a four-seater convertible (2014).

Woah! That’s a lot of new S-classes!

All future rear-wheel drive Mercs will be based on a brand new components set known as MRA, short for Mercedes Rear-wheel drive Architecture. MRA is subdivided into 93 different modules which is a good indication of how flexible this matrix can be. The only two fixed points are the front and rear firewalls in relation to the axles and the drivetrain.

The next S-class boasts a brand-new four-link front suspension designed to further decouple the steering, braking and damping forces. In the rear, we should find an evolution of the faithful multilink arrangement. Air springs are standard again, but the clever ABC anti-roll system costs extra. ABC can also be had in combination with MBC, short for Magic Body Control.

Magic Body Control? Is that like a magic carpet?

Sort of. Employing two cameras to scan the road ahead, MBC can compensate surface irregularities milliseconds before the car encounters them. Up to 80mph, this option warrants a ride comfort which is second to none. Also new is Magic Light Control (MLC) which adds dynamic full LED headlamps complete with adaptive free-flow light patterns varying with speed, weather and steering angle.

As far as the next-generation ergonomics are concerned, those in the know predict a much easier-to-use Comand system with radically fewer knobs, buttons and switches. Instead, we can allegedly look forward to a single controller which – in combination with the more elaborate steering-wheel – operate all key features and functions.

Instead of a second screen positioned above the centre stack, MB is looking at a large multiple-imagery TFT display in the driver’s primary field of vision. What makes the new infotainment so unique are the much easier access, the vastly superior memory capacity (music, DVD, maps, internet) and the reprogrammable software.

Enough gadgets… What’s under the bonnet of the new 2012 Merc S-class?

The line-up stretches from the 204bhp four-cylinder to the EU6-rated V12 dyno-tested at 544bhp. Not enough grunt? Then you may have to wait for the spiciest AMG menu which is good for 650bhp, sources say.

New motors include the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 which will be available in 306 and 354bhp form. One rung up, we find two turbocharged V8s promising 435 and 517bhp. Originally, MB intended to offer hybrid options for all new S-class models, but then marketing had a rethink, and now all that’s left are a mix of 204bhp diesel and 109bhp electric motor as well as the 306bhp V6 linked to the same plug-in whispering drivetrain. Mild hybrid is likely to be standard, but the 20bhp e-motor is not quite strong enough to justify an e-mode button.

This won’t change before 2014 when the new nine-speed autobox can accommodate a more potent 45bhp power pack.

How’s the S-class been doing?

Without China, North America and the Middle East, the Mercedes S-class would towards the end of its career be almost dead in the water. In Europe, for instance, sales of the ageing starship fell behind the new Audi A8 and the BMW 7-series in 2010.

A situation Mercedes plans to reverse with W222. It’s all change with the S-class!