New Mercedes-Benz S-Class revealed

words - Matt Brogan
Redesigned Mercedes limo a technological and ecological tour de force

The exterior of the new W222-series Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been officially unveiled in Germany overnight. Following a drip-feed of information over recent months -- detailing aerodynamic, interior, NVH and even scent details -- the all-important German limousine is now on show for the world to see.

With a grille inspired by the F700 concept the S-Class offers few other styling similarities to anything else in the range. Yet at the same time, it's instantly recognisable as a Mercedes-Benz.

The man who penned the luxury flagship, former Volkswagen designer Robert Lesnik, told his suggestions for the look of the S-Class were accepted just two weeks from commencing work with Mercedes-Benz in January 2009, adding that the shape “will lead the consistency of new models to come”.

“It’s all about proportion,” Lesnik said. “The cab-backward design is part of our strategy going forward. It’s distinctive, but with family recognition. The rear-wheel drive proportions and long hood are not just for styling, but ‘because we can’.”

The official presentation was only a little more modest, with Mercedes chairman, Dr Dieter Zetsche emphasising the S-Class’ impressive technological and ecological benchmarks. Though many of these points have been made in previous presentations (see bottom of page for links), the final fuel consumption and CO2 figures will send a shot across the bow of Merc’s rivals.

“This is a milestone for Mercedes-Benz,” spruiked Dr Zetsche. “It comes after massive investments, and once again we are showing the way.”

It was a sentiment echoed repeatedly throughout the hour-long presentation at the Airbus manufacturing facility in Hamburg, Germany. The marque drew parallels to its airborne ally, saying the new S-Class would match not only the level of luxury travel offered in the A380 superliner, but also the environmental credentials which have earned the new plane so many customers across the globe.

“We have invested all of our engineering power, the biggest [effort] ever in the history of Mercedes-Benz,” said Prof Dr Thomas Weber, head of R&D at Mercedes-Benz, who went on to explain just some of the specification details designed to catapult the new S-Class ahead of its nearest rivals.

A hybrid steel and aluminium body with new formed and cast sections reduces weight by as much as 100kg while aerodynamic improvements make the ‘regular’ S-Class sedan the “most aerodynamically efficient luxury limousine ever” with an ultra-low aerodynamic drag coefficient of just 0.24. The upcoming plug-in hybrid version will be even slipperier at 0.23Cd.

Mercedes-Benz will initially offer the S-Class with four engine options, growing to five with the addition of its plug-in hybrid variant next year. Four wheelbases will also be offering: short, long, division (the one with the short panel between the front and rear doors), and extra-long.

The range is topped by the S 500. Powered by a 4.6-litre petrol V8, the model develops 335kW at 5250rpm and 700Nm between 1800 and 3500rpm. The combined-cycle fuel economy figure is listed at just 8.6L/100km with CO2 emissions of 199g/km. It will accelerate to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds.

From here down, the figures become even more impressive. The S 400 HYBRID utilises Merc’s 3.5-litre petrol V6 (225kW/370Nm) in conjunction with an electric motor (20kW/250Nm) to achieve just 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle. The CO2 figure for the third-tier model is listed at 147g/km while 0-100km/h takes 6.8 seconds.
S 350 BlueTEC models offer a 3.0-litre diesel V6 managing 190kW at 3600rpm and 620Nm between 1200 and 2400rpm. The combined consumption tally is listed at 5.5L/100km while emitting 146g/km of CO2. The 0-100km/h time matches the S 400 HYBRID at 6.8 seconds.

Finally, the S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID combines a 2.2-litre diesel four-cylinder (150kW/500Nm) with an electric motor (20kW/250Nm) to offer a Prius-beating combined cycle average of just 4.4L/100km -- and this from a vehicle weighing close to two tonnes. The CO2 emissions figure is just as impressive at 115g/km, while 0-100km/h takes 7.6 seconds.

Next year, an S 500 Plug-In HYBRID variant will join the line-up offering a combined cycle fuel consumption figure "lower than four litres per 100km” and CO2 emissions of “less than 75g/km”.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class goes on sale in left-hand drive markets from July with first Australian customers to take delivery in early September.

Read more pre-story on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class release:

Next S-Class will be world's safest

Handsfree car decades away says Benz

Magic ride for new S-Class

New S-Class to break aero records

Mercedes considers plug-in S-Class

Road noise kills

Boquets for Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Benz flagship breaks cover

Six variant S-Class range for Australia

Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior revealed

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Published : Thursday, 16 May 2013
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