The first official ‘ S-class’ model to be launched was the W116 series in 1972, although the flagship Mercedes-Benz saloon is an icon in its own right. It has a heritage stretching back nearly sixty years to the W180 so-called ‘Ponton’ launched in 1954.

Over its lifetime, the current model has had by far the widest choice of powertrains of any S-class.

These included V6 and V8s in both petrol and diesel forms as well as a bi-turbo V12 (used in the S65 AMG). There was also a V6 petrol hybrid model available in some markets.  

Nearly all models were fitted with the new-generation 7G-Tronic autobox, though this did receive further tweaks in 2010 to counter criticism of its sometimes lethargic pick-up from rest. Four-wheel drive was available in some overseas markets, but was not offered on right-hand drive vehicles.

With the introduction of the S350 Bluetec, Mercedes rolled out a number of innovative new options, including Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Attention Assist and Distronic Plus radar cruise control.

Top 5 Luxury saloons

  • Mercedes-Benz S-class
    'Sporty' Mercedes have a three-pointed badge in the grille. Luxury Benzes get a three-pointed star atop the grille

    Mercedes-Benz S-class

    1
  • Tesla Model S
    The Tesla Model S is an upmarket rear-wheel-drive electric saloon

    Tesla Model S

    2
  • The latest XJ is a big departure from its predecessor, stylistically

    Jaguar XJ

    3
  • Audi A8
    The third generation Audi A8 is the best yet - and by some margin

    Audi A8

    4
  • The BMW 7-series features a new platform and entirely new bodyshell

    BMW 7-series

    5

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