Launched in 2013, the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class has brought many innovations to the market. It also arrived in dealerships as a sportier, yet more comfortable proposition to the previous-gen S-Class, being praised for its fantastic ride, effortless acceleration, and the enormous amount of luxury and tech. In 2013, it had no rival, but BMW launched a new 7 Series in 2016, while Cadillac joined the full-size segment with the CT6. As a result, Mercedes-Benz updated the S-Class for the 2018 model year.
Although it’s safe to say that the outgoing S-Class was still competitive against its newer rivals, an update was necessary, especially in the tech department. That’s not to say that the S-Class was outdated, it’s just that Merc launched a range of new features with the latest E-Class, including semi-autonomous driving, that had to be offered in the top-of-the-line sedan too. Alongside the new tech, Mercedes also introduced a couple of new engines for the U.S. market and a new diesel for Europe. The facelift is rounded off by mild design upgrades and a revised model lineup.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
In terms of design, the profile and proportions roughly remain the same as the outgoing model, however, the sheet metal appears more sculpted and streamlined now with two strong character lines and these give the new Mercedes S-Class a streamlined look with a nice interplay of concave and convex surfaces. Standout features include a large front grille inspired by the F700 Concept car and LED head and tail lamps. Integrated exhaust tips and a large panoramic glass roof help highlight the overall design theme. The drag coefficient stands at a Cd of 0.24 for the petrol and diesel variants while the hybrid improves on that by going even lower with a Cd figure of 0.23.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
The interiors of the S-Coupe need to luxurious, elegant and at the same time sporty (because of the AMG character). It is a difficult task. But the designers at Affalterbach and Stuttgart did a lot of thinking and crafted the perfect interiors. The instrument panel is derived from the S-Class and it still has some touches from AMG and the S Coupe. This is likely to be one of the few AMGs to have a gearstick on the steering column than the sporty AMG gearshifter at the centre. The steering wheel is chunky and good to grip with flappy paddles that make it a joy to shift. The large LED display for the instrument cluster and the centre console makes the S Coupe look very tech-loaded and modern.
The front row seats are comfortable and do look sporty. They are a hybrid of luxury and sportiness, so it has lumber support, while the side support is dynamic and in sync with the steering input for best support. We had experience something similar with the E63 AMG, this has been further personified for better support. The space in the second row is also decent, though it might be a bit tight for long people. The rear seat is extremely comfortable and there the seat is cosy. There is space for two people only as there is a centre arm-rest as well. You will only have difficulty to sit at the back only if you are a six-footer and front seat is occupied by someone who is equally tall too. The toy quotient on the S63 AMG is high thanks to its connect with the S-Class. The seatbelt is offered to you by a robotic butler everytime you step inside. The sunroof tints automatically to avoid harsh sun rays from intruding into the cabin.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
So, back to driving and the new engines. The E-class’ new OM654 2.0-litre diesel engine was the first of a new family of modular engines, but the S-class introduces the newest members; the OM656 – a straight-six diesel and the M256 – a straight-six petrol engine, which will replace the current S-class’ V6 diesel and petrol engines internationally. There’s also a new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine (Code: M176), derived from the 4.0 V8 in the AMG C 63 and AMG GT S, that will replace the 4.7-litre V8 in today’s S 500. All three make more power than their predecessors, while being more efficient thanks to new tech and lower weight. However, in India, the only new engine we will get (initially at least) is the straight six diesel, albeit in its lower state of tune, called the S 350d, while the new petrol motors won’t be available at launch. The six-cylinder petrol engine for the updated S-class will be the same 2996cc unit of today’s S 400 which is likely to be retuned for more power and re-badged as the S 450, while the V8 petrol will likely be a re-tuned version of the 4.7-litre V8.
The new 4.0 V8 in the S 560, however, is the one is the one we spent most time with on this drive. This new 3,982cc motor uses a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers housed within the vee of the cylinder banks and produces 469hp and 700Nm of torque (10hp more than the current S 500 with the same amount of torque). It also features cylinder shut off, letting it run as a four-cylinder under low loads, and of course, engine stop-start, all for better fuel economy.At idle and at low revs, you still get that same incredible refinement as the old engine, and as is befitting an S-class. It stays this way when you’re cruising gently too, remaining so quiet that all you can hear is some road noise from the wide tyres. However, rev it up just a little more and you’ll realise how closely it’s related to AMG’s snarling monster of a motor. You hear the growl a lot sooner this time around, and it also feels a lot more urgent. Where the old motor had a lazy, butter-smooth nature, this one is capable of whacking the car forward at a very un-limo-like rate should you prod it a little, with a claimed 0-100 time of just 4.6sec. It sounds like a proper V8 too – not quite as loud as the AMG version for sure, but still having a nice underlying rumble. The nine-speed auto is, once again, brilliant with superb smoothness and an uncanny ability to sense which gear you need at any time.
The good news is, the ‘9G-Tronic’ gearbox will now feature on the six-cylinder motors as well, unlike the current car, which still uses the old seven-speed unit for its V6s. The new six-cylinder petrol motor, which will eventually replace the ‘400’-badged V6 petrol engines in the S-class, GLE and GLS internationally, is badged either S 450 or S 500 on the S-class. It uniquely comes with some interesting tech like a separate 48v electrical system with an integrated starter generator (ISG) that works as a mild hybrid system, allowing for engine switch-off during coasting, brake energy recuperation and even providing electric boost to fill torque gaps. But alas, it’s unknown if or when we’ll see this motor in India.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Moving on to ride comfort and handling, the new S-Class uses a hybrid exoskeleton made of aluminium, high-strength steel, plastics and high rigidity foam to keep weight in check without compromising safety and integrity. The suspension continues to sport the road surface scan feature with a stronger camera that is now capable of detecting bumps in the road ahead at speeds of up to 180kmph and a range of 15 metres.The S-Class also has a curve inclination function that allows the body to tilt into a bend by up to 2.65 degrees thus reducing lateral force acting on the passengers. Curve inclination along with the road surface scan and active body control are the three primary components of the famous Magic Body Control, which is an optional feature and one not available for the Indian market. By the end of it, all there are just so many things we aren’t getting in India that it seriously makes me question — what is it that Indian consumers are getting exactly in the S-Class?
And then there’s standard fitment adaptive suspension whose air dampers work individually and continuously at each wheel to maintain optimal ride height and comfort. You can even select how you want the dampers to function, in Comfort mode or with a stiffer action if you switch to Sport mode. In either case, the ride quality is fantastic, but I was most impressed with the S-Class in Sport mode — you can feel the dampers working hard to keep the car in line while at the same there isn’t any harshness. Now despite the acceleration performance levels the S-Class in its various trims is capable of, bear in mind it’s over 5 meters long and nearly 2 meters wide, that’s a massive footprint it occupies on the road. And all of that may not seem to turn in easily. Yet it’s agile, sure-footed and precise. Though not in the sportscar throw, it accurately anywhere kind of way. Rest assured if you had to make this a getaway car, you’d getaway!
SAFETY FEATURES ;
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan is equipped with various advanced safety and security features including Attention Assist, LED Intelligent Light System, Night View Assist Plus, ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation), airbags for driver and front passenger with adaptive levels for the front passenger airbag, sidebags for driver and front passenger, rear sidebags, window bags, ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic BrakeForce Distribution), Brake Assist, ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and Traction Control System.
This car is nothing short of irresistible. It packs the finest drive experience possible, with a mix of lavishness, comfort, and entertainment, while at the same time, not letting go of performance and inner dynamics. However, its tall price tag would be more than enough to put many people off. In the end, go for this car if you’re willing to spend big bucks for a no-compromise drive experience. On the other hand, to those on the thriftier side who just need an average vehicle for A to B commuting, we’d recommend some other model for you.