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.

Staff writer
Four-wheel drive is available in left-hand drive S-class models, but not in right-hand drive due to engineering limitations. That should change in the all-new model

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.