The Mercedes S-class has now been a symbol of pure, exquisite luxury in the automotive industry for more than 50 years. With the first generation of this icon being rolled out in 1972, the Sonderklasse – “Special Class” – is a conceptual embodiment of cutting-edge technology and graceful opulence crafted with pragmatic German engineering in mind.
The latest seventh generation of a Mercedes-Benz S-class, with the W223 chassis designation, was launched by the end of 2020 for the 2021 Model Year. Being the marque’s flagship, S-class is usually the first to incorporate new technical decisions and advancements; in this sense, S-class serves as a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the vector of the marque’s development and what can be expected within the nearest decade.
Indeed, the W223 is no exception in this regard – it is a launching ground, an icebreaker, if you wish, for features that are yet unique, but in a decade, will be shared among consumer cars. Well then, let’s assess the main characteristics of the latest S-Class.
Engine and drivetrain
The engines themselves had gone through no revolution. The petrol variants offered are a turbocharged 3L inline-6 engine tuned at either 367 or 435 horsepower or a Biturbo 4L V8 engine tuned at a powerful 503 horsepower. Additionally, the top-of-the-line armored Mercedes-Maybachs are equipped with a giant 6L Biturbo V12 monster rated at an enormous 612 horsepower. The only diesel engine is a 3L turbocharged inline-6 rated at 286 or 330 horsepower.
Every W223 Mercedes-Benz S-class is equipped with state-of-the-Art 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission. Furthermore, every model is paired with a magnificent in-house 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, making this full-size sedan drive like a small, elegant hot hatch even on the curviest roads. The engineers’ pride is the new fully-controlled modular chassis, in which the rear wheels are now able to steer independently from the front wheels, based on the speed and the curvature of the turn.
In W223, Mercedes designers were unrestrained and almost completely redesigned the interior from scratch, adding unique features that are impossible to break away from.
Conceptually speaking, Mercedes-Benz gave up its lasting analog traditions. Instead, the Germans resisted to the last the modern sensory trends, always striving to use the reasonable old analog solutions. Stuttgart’s rationale was that the traditional Mercedes clientele prefers the magic of tactical sensations to soulless digits on LCD screens. But design philosophy has abruptly halted: the new S-Class is probably the most digitized car in the segment, in which digital touchpads control even the familiar “chair” buttons on the door card.
Eight unusual air vents, made more like decorations, carved metal speaker panels of the Burmester system as a different type of auto art, the enormous 12.8 inch OLED infotainment display, and, of course, contoured and animated backlighting along with the displays of creating the feeling that you are in a space shuttle. Presidential Space Shuttle that is.
The new S-Class has also reached an extreme level of communication with the owner. The machine reads the user profile settings of the owner from the face or fingerprints. In addition, a function for recognizing gestures and the voice of each passenger has appeared, and Mercedes will select the optimal settings for the seat and steering wheel if you set your height – 19 electric motors are installed in the seats. In addition, the limousine can read data from a smartwatch or fitness bracelet, adjusting the atmosphere in the cabin to the state of the owner.
Of course, the S-class is an epitome of comfort. Among others, there is 4-zone climate control and heated and cooled auto-reclining seats. Monitors in the backs of the front seats automatically adjust to the position of the passengers’ eyes. All centers in the limousine are equipped with a massage with ten programs, and the rear right seat unfolds into a chaise longue.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class is filled with both active and passive safety measures. The 14 airbags all around the car, advanced crumple zones, and chassis material will make sure passengers will, at the very least, stay alive even in the most gruesome collisions. Besides, the pneumatic suspension is now equipped with advanced sensors and can lift one side of the car in the case of an inevitable crash to better absorb the blow.
On highways, the driver, in principle, can even go about his own business. The activated radars of the driver assistance systems work very correctly and smoothly as a whole, in fact, turning into an autopilot. By the way, the S-Class can park entirely without a driver, and if there is digital smart parking, the limousine will generally go to the right parking place and then return.