The Sonderklasse, or S-Class as we all know it, is without a doubt the pinnacle of motoring luxury, the daddy of all sedans, and of course, the flagship of Mercedes' lineup.
The S-Class has been the standard in motoring luxury since its inception in 1972. It's carried this reputation due to its refinement and the prestige it brings to the automotive world.
Not only has the S-Class debuted many of the world's first, but it has also introduced the company's latest innovations, including drivetrain technologies, interior conveniences, and safety systems. As a result, each model has decisively influenced the automotive engineering of its era.
As an example, the W116 from the seventies brought the world's first anti-lock brakes, the W126 from the eighties influenced others to include driver's side airbags as standard, and the W140 from the nineties brought double glazed windows to vehicles.
These are just some of the features that the S-Class has brought to the automotive world, and the list is pretty exhaustive if we were to continue, but for today we will be focusing on the newly launched 7th-generation S-Class, another vehicle from Stuttgart that resets our expectations of what we thought was possible in a vehicle.
Locally, Mercedes-Benz has sold over 18,000 S-Class’ since its first introduction in the late 1970s. We expect the number to grow even more, thanks to some exciting innovations and technology in the 7th-generation, once again making it the benchmark of luxury limousines.
As with every S-Class, the 7th-generation luxury sedan comes with a host of unique features as well as a world's first.
Starting off with the world's first, the 2022 S-Class features the world's first rear airbags, which are integrated into the backrests of the front seats and deploy in a severe front impact. They deploy gently and protect outer rear seat passengers against contact with the front seats. Mercedes says that the loads on the head and neck are thus reduced significantly.
Together with this added protection for the rear passengers, Mercedes-Benz has also prioritised other occupants in the car, the S-Class also features PRE-SAFE®, a system that prepares the occupants for a side-on collision and reduces the risk of injury.
Like a bodyguard, it pushes the driver or front passenger away from the danger zone towards the inside. The impulse is created by the movement of the seat side bolsters in the front backrests. Beneath the upholstery, a balloon is activated pyrotechnically – similar to an airbag. In the event of an imminent side collision being detected, a gas generator fills the balloon in a short time. As a result, the seat side bolster is drawn inwards and transfers the momentum on the occupants towards the middle of the vehicle.
Now that all passengers have added protection, they can enjoy the blend of premium wood, leather and metals in the interior, but it's the second generation MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) that is the icing on a very luxuriously rich cake. The infotainment system now features artificial intelligence. Both its hardware and software have made great strides forward.
With brilliant OLED technology displays on up to five large screens, the system makes the control of vehicle and comfort functions even more effortless. It also features a fingerprint scanner just below the central display. When you touch the colour-illuminated button, the system unlocks access.
The possibilities for personalisation and intuitive operation have become even more extensive. This certainly applies in the rear but also to the driver: For example, the new 3D driver display allows a spatial view at the touch of a button for the first time. A real three-dimensional effect is achieved without having to wear 3D glasses.
Also available is the MBUX Augmented Reality Navigation, which connects the virtual world with the real world. The technology incorporates navigation and traffic into live images to ensure drivers reach safely and stress-free.
The voice assistant "Hey Mercedes" is also constantly learning by activating online services in the Mercedes me Service App. Moreover, specific actions can be performed without the "Hey Mercedes" activation keyword. These include accepting a telephone call. The S-Class' voice assistant can also be controlled from the rear.
Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, the MBUX Interior Assist recognises and anticipates the wishes and intentions of the occupants. It interprets head direction, hand movements and body language and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. As a result, the MBUX Interior Assist improves safety. Before the journey begins, it notifies the driver if the camera has detected a child seat on the front passenger seat, where the seat belt is not fastened, for example.
The latest in cutting edge technology doesn't stop there either, as the new S-Class comes with DIGITAL LIGHT headlights, a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs, with light that is refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors. This allows highly precise light distribution, making Highbeam Assist over 100 times more precise. As a result, light/shadow graduations and the light distribution of all the other adaptive light functions are realised with considerably more precision, optimising illumination.
The shell of the S-Class is also technically sleeker than ever before. With a co-efficient drag (Cd) figure of 0.22, the S-Class is one of the world's most aerodynamic cars, especially in the luxury sedan segment. Although the frontal area of the new S-Class has increased slightly to 2.5 sq. m., the Cd has been reduced even further compared to the preceding model.
The S-Class has also achieved further improvements in aeroacoustics. The previous generation already excelled with a very high level of interior noise comfort, but the new model is even quieter. The high rigidity of the body shell provides the basis for this noise and vibration comfort, and this is enhanced with fine-tuning. Mercedes-Benz is also using acoustic foam in certain body shell sections for the first time to make the S-Class more refined than its predecessors.
The new S-Class is also one of the most dashing sedans to come out of Germany. It now features a prominent grille that is bigger than before, giving it a lot of road presence. The S-Class is mostly smooth on the sides except for a crease that runs from the front to the rear of the car just underneath the side windows, but it's the pop-out door handles that take centre stage. The rear also now features horizontal taillights, giving it a sleeker appearance.
All of this would mean nothing if the new S-Class didn't come with an impressive heart, so we're glad to report that its powertrain is more efficient than ever.
The Mercedes-Benz S 580e Plug-In Hybrid is offered with a 3.0 litre 6-cylinder engine producing 367 hp at 5,500-6,100 RPM and a maximum torque of 500 Nm between 1,600-4,500 RPM with a 9G-Tronic transmission. The vehicle is capable of performing the century sprint in just 5.2 seconds.
Additionally, the S 580e also offers an estimated 100km pure electric driving range, courtesy of its hybrid electric motor. It only takes two and half hours to get it fully charged.
The company's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and AirMatic air suspension (along with E-Active Body Control) are also standard. The rear-wheel steering system has seen a significant upgrade, increasing its maximum turn angle from 4.5 degrees to 10 degrees, improving the car's turning circle to a very compact 10.9 metres, which rivals most small urban cars.
We know this might sound cliche, but the seventh generation S-Class is a giant leap forward since the model arrived almost 50 years ago. It's just built with every detail and consideration in mind. Even its minimalistic high tech interior approach has a practical sense.
Whether you'll be the one sitting at the rear, or the one doing the driving, the S-Class will indeed aim to please.
For more information on the W223 S-Class or to register your interest, click here.