SUCH is the complexity of the range and options available on this facelifted S-class, that MercedesBenz claims no two cars built will be identical. When the updated version of the classic German luxury sedan goes on sale in Australia in December, it will offer six separate engines across a smorgasbord of models: S350d; S400d LWB; S450 LWB; S560; S560 LWB; AMG S63 LWB and, finally, the S650 Maybach – the only V12 to survive a cull of models at the very top end of the sedan range.
Underneath the familiar exterior appearance, refreshed by a prominent chrome grille, modified bumpers, and new LED headlights and tail-light graphics, is a subtly updated version of the previous S-class’s MRA platform shared with the smaller C- and E-classes, with unique S-class structural components at the rear.
While the S-class gets Air Body Control air suspension as standard, unlike the threechamber system unveiled in the latest E-class, the S-class maintains the simpler single chamber air suspension set-up of the old model. Inevitably, the S-class’ electrical architecture has been significantly upgraded, and predictably, it now supports the widest range of driver assistance systems of any Mercedes.
We drove a variety of engines at the international launch, but with the 400d LWB – boasting a 3165mm wheelbase, 130mm more than the standard-bodied version – expected to be the local best seller, we focused on its new 2.9-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder diesel that replaces the old 3.0-litre V6. All S-class models sold in Australia are reardrive, as the 4Matic in this test car is limited to left-hand drive setups (at least until the next-gen model).
The new powerplant delivers 250kw (up 10 percent) between 3600-4400rpm and a mighty 700Nm across a range from 12003200rpm. It features a stepped bowl combustion process, multichannel exhaust gas recirculation system, and, for the first time, variable valve lift control.