Mercedes’ new flagship makes its public debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show and departs radically from the seven year-old model it replaces, with a striking exterior, increased dimensions and more modern interior. Fresh petrol and diesel engines are among a raft of hi-tech chassis, safety and environmental innovations.
Merc officials hint that prices for the new S-class, codenamed W221, will rise by about eight per cent over those of the outgoing model to offset increased levels of standard equipment, suggesting a range from around £57,500 for the base S350 through to more than £100,000 for the S600.
You won’t have to look too hard to recognise the new S-class. With a larger, more upright body, it looks more imposing than its hugely successful predecessor, which has chalked up 485,000 sales since its launch in 1998. The bold new exterior was created under the watch of Mercedes design boss Peter Pfeiffer, and is claimed to set the tone for a range of future models, including the next generation C- and E-class.
The familiar S-class nose and tail have been extensively reworked, but it’s the taut sides that represent the greatest departure from today’s model. Key styling cues include large, angular headlamps wrapping well back into the front flanks, prominent wheelarches reminiscent of those on the Mazda RX-8 and a deep swage line along the sides.
The rear has an altogether different appearance, with a free-standing bootlid similar to that on the larger Maybach. The body is once again made of high-tensile steel and is claimed to be even more rigid than the outgoing S-class. In a bid to keep weight down the bonnet, bootlid, doors and wings are fashioned from aluminium.
The new S-class has grown in every dimension over its hugely successful predecessor. Length is up by 33mm in short-wheelbase guise and 43mm in long-wheelbase guise to 5076mm and 5206mm respectively. Width also increases by 16mm to 1871mm, while height extends by 29mm to 1473mm. The wheelbase increases by 70mm to 3035mm in the short-wheelbase version and by 80mm to 3165mm in the long-wheelbase version. This shortens the overhangs quite appreciably, and allows gains in interior space. The boot increases in capacity by 60 litres to 560 litres.