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The very latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class, shown to the world just a few months ago, has made Australian landfall and is set to continue its dominance in the luxury limousine segment, staying well ahead of its rivals the way only an S-Class can. The S-Class has remained a favourite among well-heeled buyers despite ever-stiffening competition, and serves to underline that it really is in a class of its own (or ‘Sonderklasse’ in German).
The S-Class arrives on our shores with two new engines, with three offered in total. The range kicks off with the standard-wheelbase S350d, followed by the long-wheelbase S400d L and S450 L, before rising to the S560 (available in standard- and long-wheelbase guises). Things then take an ultra-performance turn in the form of the Mercedes-AMG S63L, before landing in the lap of luxury with the Mercedes-Mayback S650 with its unique bi-turbo V12.
Visual revisions for the 2018 model-year are subtle, with things like grilles being updated, headlights featuring a unique ‘tri-stripe’ daytime-running light effect, new bumpers, and the same shimmer-crystal treatment for the taillights that we first saw in the new E-Class. Inside, the digital instrument cluster & infotainment screen now sit behind a single glass pane, there’s a new touch-sensitive controls for the COMAND system, a redesigned steering wheel with new cruise control… controls, and optional LED ambient lighting that can offer up to 64 different shades.
There’s also a rather gimmicky system called ‘Energising Comfort Control,’ which tweaks the air conditioning, fragrancing, seat massagers, lighting, and sound-system to sooth, excite, or stimulate the driver over six programmes, those being ‘Freshness,’ ‘Warmth,’ ‘Vitality,’ ‘Joy,’ ‘Comfort,’ and ‘Training.’ We’re curious to see how this system works in reality, and if it’s any more than an interesting feature that will go unused.
Driver aids have seen a bump too, with optional items including ‘Distronic Active Proximity Control,’ and ‘Active Steer Assist.’ These systems mean that the S-Class can accelerate and brake within the speed limit, and steer unaided or for up to 30-seconds at a time. The ‘Magic Body Control’ system that we’ve seen before also sees an upgrade, and now includes a ‘Curve’ functionality that is broadly similar to the lean feature seen in the S-Class coupe, where it tilts the body by up to 3-degrees in corners.
The S350d and the S400d L utilise the same all-new inline-6 engine, albeit in different states of tune (210kW/600Nm and 230kW/700Nm respectively), and represents the first set of inline-6 engines for the brand in a long time indeed. This engine (in both tunes) are incredibly frugal, with the shorter S350d managing a respectable 5.4L/100km on the official test cycle. Both cars get things like keyless entry and go, power-closing for the doors and boot, a Burmester 13-speaker audio system, a 360º surround-view monitor and a head-up display. The S400d L gets further kit like electrically-adjustable outer seats at the rear, electric blinds on the three rear windows (doors either side and the rear windscreen), rear climate control and 20-inch alloys, which are specs that it shares with the S450L (which itself gets a 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 petrol, with 270kW/520Nm). All three of these cars send their power through a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.
Next up is the S560, available in standard and long-wheelbase variants. S560s see motivation from a 4.0-litre V8, aided by two turbos, putting out an immense 345kW and 700Nm and sending it to the same transmission. Over the standard kit, the S650 gets the ‘Energizing’ comfort control feature as well as ‘AirBalance’ quality control, along with burr-walnut trim, nappa-leather, and laminated glass that insulates heat and noise. The long-wheelbase S560L gets ‘Easy Adjust’ luxury headrests for the front pews, while the rear gets a standard rear-seat entertainment package replete with wireless headsets.
If that’s not enough power for you, you can have the Mercedes-AMG S63L, which adds a healthy dose of potency and machismo to the mix. While it utilises the same 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 as the S650, it gets tuned up to an astounding 450kW and 900Nm, putting its power down through a bespoke AMG-Speedshift 9-speed automatic gearbox.
Unique to the S63L, this model gets a sports exhaust system (which needs to be heard to be believed), ‘Dynamic Select’ adjustable driving modes (tuned by AMG), composite brakes in each corner, retuned speed-sensitive steering, and red brake callipers. Not forsaking luxury, the S63L gets multi-contour seats up front, heated- and ventilated-seats at the rear, an enlarged fuel tank (because you will be eating through it quickly), AMG-unique trim all round, an IWC-Schaffhausen analogue clock, and open-pore black-ash wood trim.
Sitting at the top of the range is the immensely-plush Mercedes-Maybach S650, which sees motivation from a 6.0-litre bi-turbo V12, pushing out a jaw-dropping 463kW and 1000Nm(!), mated to a 7G-Tronic automatic transmission. Building on the already-extensive kit of the S560, the Maybach S650 gets a further Burmester surround-sound system with two dozen speakers, a microfibre trim on the roof, ‘Maybach’ lettering all over the place, ultra-soft nappa leather upholstery, and 20-inch forged wheels in high-gloss polished ceramic.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class will be offered for the 2018 model year as below:
- Mercedes-Benz S350d — $195,900
- Mercedes-Benz S400d L — $222,500
- Mercedes-Benz S450 L — $227,500
- Mercedes-Benz S560 — $270,000
- Mercedes-Benz S560 L — $295,000
- Mercedes-AMG S63 L — $375,000
- Mercedes-Maybach S650 — $425,000
*All prices are accurate at the time of publication, and do not include various on-road costs.