As styling highlights for the sixth-generation S-Class, Mercedes-Benz cites the larger, more upright grille; a character line descending from front to rear, called the "Dropping Line"; convex-concave surfacing of the flanks; a pronounced shoulder above the rear wheel, tail-lights encased by the car's body; a rear windscreen which cuts into the C-pillar; and a rounded upper area of the glass “lending it a coupe-like character”.
The body of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class itself scores a benchmark 0.24 aerodynamic Cd rating, with the forthcoming S300 BlueTec Hybrid model achieving a claimed 0.23Cd.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the first car in the world to not include a single lightbulb, with 500 LEDs split between the headlights (56), tail-lights (35) and interior (300).
Inside Mercedes-Benz focused on horizontal elements and lines to create a “uniquely fluid, sensuously elegant style” according to the brand, aiming to create “an exclusive interior cast from a single mould”.
The expected leather trimmings, metallised switch surfaces, and pearl-effect and woodgrain finishes combine with main controls made of solid aluminium.
Two 12.3-inch high-resolution TFT screens show the infotainment technology controlled by a touch-sensitive telephone keypad and rotary control button.
A new Speech Dialog system can handle entire sat-nav addresses being read out, while the system will also read out texts or emails to the driver.
In a tacit acknowledgement of the growing importance of the S-Class in markets that prioritise rear legroom, such as China, the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class was designed first, with the short-wheelbase car derived off it.
The all-new body is 50 per cent stiffer than before, and both the 5.12-metre long SWB and 5.43m LWB models extend 20mm further before, with an extra 4mm in height and 28mm width for each. Inside that liberates an extra 12mm of driver headroom, 14mm of extra shoulder room, 10mm more elbow room and 14mm extra rear legroom.
Yet with use of aluminium increased to more than 50 per cent – including the entire outer skin including the roof and front section of the body – the new S-Class weighs less than the old one.
Between the three engine options making their debut, only the S400 Hybrid offers a genuinely new drivetrain.
Replacing the previous S350, it takes that car’s 225kW/370Nm 3.5-litre direct-injection petrol V6 and adds a 20kW/250Nm electric motor to decrease the 0-100km/h sprint by 0.1 second to 6.8sec and lower consumption by 2.7 litres per 100km to a claimed 6.3L/100km combined. Even with the extra hardware, the 1945kg limo weighs only 35kg more than before.
The S350 Bluetec retains its 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 and outputs of 190kW and 620Nm, but the car weighs 20kg less overall at 1975kg, is 0.3 seconds faster to 100km/h at 6.8 seconds and is 2.0L/100km more frugal at 5.0L/100km.
The S500 also stays with a 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 and 335kW/700Nm, but weighs a hefty 60kg less at 2015kg, is 0.2 seconds quicker and 2.1L/100km more frugal – recording 4.8 seconds to 100km/h and 8.6L/100km combined.
In addition to many of the safety features already introduced on the E-Class – such as pedestrian detection and braking below 30km/h, seatbelts that tighten when a rear collision is imminent, lane-keeping assistance and lane-following auto drive – the Mercedes-Benz S-Class gets several new active and passive features.
Pre-Safe Impulse uses the front seatbelts to pull occupants away from the direction of impact.
A ‘beltbag’ is available in the rear, in addition to a cushion bag under the rear seat to prevent reclined rear occupants from sliding under the seatbelt in a crash.
The rear Executive individual buckets can be reclined by 43.5 degrees – up from 37 degrees. Also available is an ‘Energising’ massage function with 14 air cushions in each backrest, two of which incorporate a warming function and reversing fan ventilation.
A “First Class Rear” package incorporates a business centre console with integrated telephone handset, additional stowage and a folding table.
Other new technology includes Road Surfact Scan, which uses the front stereo camera to map the oncoming landscape and prepare the Magic Body Control adaptive suspension to deal with the surface before it arrives.
Standard equipment on the new S-Class includes Adaptive Damping System Plus and Airmatic air suspension, with multi-link front and rear axles.
The sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class will arrive in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2013, with an Australian introduction to follow in 2014.
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