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Has Mercedes done enough with its new W221 S-class to stay atop the luxury tree?

17 Feb 2006

AN ALL-NEW S-class luxury sedan flagship emerges from the Mercedes-Benz factory but once every seven years and, as a the latest incarnation of what's widely regarded as the world's best car, is cause for celebration. This time around, the all-new W221 boasts the usual array of advanced new technologies the further refine the comfort and driving experience of would-be buyers. Of course, the latest S-class also grows in size, making it closer to the mammoth W140 model that earned the "Schwein Klasse" nickname. And for the long-wheelbase S500L variant, which arrives ahead of the S350 and S600 this year, there's a $6000 price hike. As the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz engineering, is the latest S-class good enough to maintain its place ahead of seriously accomplished rivals such as BMW's 7 Series, Audi's A8, Jaguar's XJ and Lexus LS?

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Model release date: 1 April 2006 to 1 October 2009

Previous model

Mercedes W220 S-class

Released: April 1999
Ended: March 2006
Family Tree: S-Class

The previous-generation W220 S-class replaced the W140 "Schwein Klasse" Down Under in April 1999, launching with a less powerful 3.2-litre SOHC V6 that produced 165kW and 315Nm in the S320. Also available was the 205kW/400Nm 4.3-litre S430 and S430L V8s, the 225kW/460Nm 5.0-litre S500L V8 and the 270kW/530Nm 5.8-litre V12 S600L (from November 2000). The 180kW/350Nm 3.7-litre SOHC V6 S350 replaced S320 in March 2003 - the same time the 368kW/700Nm supercharged 5.4-litre S55K and the 368kW/800Nm 5.5-litre V12 S600L - arrived - while the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed auto joined the S430 and S500 in March 2004.

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