This is the new Mercedes-Benz S-class. It’s one of the most important new cars of 2013, and the decade: it's a complete gadget and tech fest, with everything from suspension that can 'see' the road ahead, to heated armrests, plus a four-cylinder diesel hybrid model that'll do over 64mpg and emit just 115g/km CO2. Read on for the full story on the new Mercedes S-class...
Mercedes S-class: what’s new outside?
There are no light bulbs: the lights are all LEDs, which cuts power consumption. There are 56 LEDs in each front light cluster alone. The doors use Mercedes’ 1930s-inspired ‘dropping line’ motif recently seen on the 'Aesthetics S' teaser sculpture, binning the outgoing S-class's bulbous wheelarches. The whole body structure is 50% stiffer than before. Meanwhile the rear’s sloping bootlid is to help aerodynamics: this is the slipperiest S-class ever, with a drag coefficient of just 0.24Cd. The rear light clusters are shaped to tidy up airflow off the rear of the car too, and if you’re keeping count, each rear light uses 35 LEDS. But that’s small-fry compared to the 300 lurking inside…
Like the rest of the Mercedes range, you’ll be able to spec an AMG Sport kit for your S-class, which includes an aggressive front bumper, bigger wheels, and rectangular exhaust outlets instead of hidden pipes. The proper S63 and S65 AMG models will follow on in due course: click here for CAR’s S63 AMG spy shots story.
What’s new inside the S-class, besides lots of clever lights?
The cabin has jumped to an all-new level of luxo-techiness. What’s interesting is that this is the first S-class to be designed as a long-wheelbase car and then shortened for the regular model, rather than stretched after being signed off. Why? Because Asia will be a huge market for the car, where S-class buyers prefer to be driven rather than drive themselves.
The design of the cabin is more minimalist than S-classes previous, thanks to so many functions being operated by the rotary Comand controller and the large infotainment screens. There’s also 12mm of extra headroom for the driver, 14mm more shoulder room and 10mm more elbow room in the front. Rear kneeroom is up 14mm, and rear shoulder room better off by 9mm.
In the rear quarters, you’ve a choice of two seat configurations in the standard car (three seat bench, or two chairs) and five in the long-wheelbase S-class. Naturally, the chairs are heated, cooled, will recline and even massage you.
Let’s talk S-class powertrains
Until the bi-turbo V8 and V12 models arrive, you’ve got a choice of four S-class powertrains:
||S300 BlueTec Hybrid|
||2987cc V6 TDI
||2143cc 4-cyl TDI|
||302bhp @ 6500rpm
||448bhp @ 5250rpm
||254bhp @ 3600rpm
||201bhp @ 4200rpm|
||270lb ft @ 3500-5250rpm
||511lb ft @ 1800-3500rpm
||453lb ft @ 1600-2400rpm
||365lb ft @ 1600-1800rpm|
||20kW and 184lb ft
||20kW and 184lb ft|
* for short- and long-wheelbase variants
Mercedes S-class: the comfort
One of the headline innovations for the new S-class is its ability to ‘see’ and adapt to the road surface. Mercedes’ Magic Ride System uses a stereo camera to monitor the road ahead for imperfections and adjust the damping rates. At speeds of over 75mph the S-class also drops 20mm lower on its springs for better aerodynamics. Updated air suspension is standard on all models.
A new feature of the massaging seats is the ability to replicate a hot stone treatment, and ‘reversing fans’ in the seats accelerate the temperature change. Naturally there are heated front and rear seats, but you can also spec a heated steering wheel and heated front and rear armrests in the new S-class.
How about if I insist on driving my S-class?
Assume the position in the Captain’s chair and you’re greeted by two giant screens. Immediately ahead of the driver is the adaptive instrument binnacle, while central in the cabin is a widescreen infotainment interface. It’s all controlled via a rotary dial with major function keys, a telephone dialling pad, and hands-free voice control, or ‘Linguatronic’ in Mercedes-speak. For the first time, the S-class will read aloud your text messages and emails. Could get you into trouble, that one…
You can also spec an active perfuming system in the new S-class, and choose your favourite fragrances to be pumped in via the climate control system. How about a permanent ‘new car smell’ option?
I bet there’s one hell of a stereo in the new S-class…
It’s quite a clever sound system: there are no ‘woofer’ speakers in the car’s doors. Instead, the woofers are relocated to the firewall, hidden away in the 40-litre space in the cross-member and side member which is used as a resonance chamber. This means a fuller-bodied entertainment sound, and more stowage room in the doors themselves, or so says Merc.
What about the safety tech in the new S-class?
The ‘Pre-Safe' system, which tries to anticipate and prevent accidents, has been upgraded. The S-class can detect pedestrians and city traffic and emergency brake the car, and detect a car about to rear-end it and flash the hazards and apply its own brakes to stop whiplash. There’s also airbag-equipped seatbelts to reduce strain on occupants' rib cages. ‘Distronic’ with steering assist also guides the car along in a motorway lane, keeping a safe distance from the car behind, using the car’s all-seeing eye radar. It’ll bring the S-class to halt if needed, and maintain pace with traffic in a stop-start jam without intervention from the driver. The march towards autonomous cars gathers pace…
Don’t forget, these updated systems are all included on top of the usual drowsiness sensors, plethora of airbags, and adaptive headlights and wipers. And the great thing about the S-class has always been the way its headline features filter through to everyday family hatchbacks a decade later. Then again, with this much tech it might be a little longer before your Ford Focus has a perfume dispenser and heated rear armrests...
When is the S-class on sale?
The new Mercedes S-class will go on sale in the autumn of 2013. UK pricing has yet to be announced, but we know that in Germany the entry-level short-wheelbase S350 Hybrid will cost from €79,789.50. The priciest S-class (for now) is the long-wheelbase S500, which retails for €107,635.50.
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