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Mercedes-Benz boosts its S-class flagship with more features – but at a price

20 Oct 2009

MERCEDES-BENZ is not taking the latest BMW 7 Series and all-new Porsche Panamera threat lying down, electing instead to rejuvenate its four-year old flagship with a minor facelift, more standard features, improved technology and safety and … a price hike! But the outgoing, ninth-generation W221 Mercedes limousine was one of our very favourites, recapturing much of the deep quality feel that made the three-pointed star’s offerings so great a generation ago. Still, the competition is fierce, so does the newest S-class have what it takes to stay on top?
Model release date: 1 October 2009 to 1 February 2011

Previous model

Mercedes-Benz W221 S-class

Released: February 2006
Ended: October 2009
Family Tree: S-Class

MERCEDES started from scratch with the ninth-generation S-class, creating a larger and more refined vehicle that ticked all the right boxes as far as luxury, driveability, safety and comfort were concerned, and so created a massive standard for rival manufacturers to try and meet. Two wheelbase lengths were used, under a traditional three-box sedan silhouette. Base engine was the S350’s 200kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol, followed by the S500’s 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre V8 petrol. Both drove the rear wheels via Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission. More salubrious luxury was provided by the S600L, featuring a 380kW/830Nm 5.5-litre V12 petrol and five-speed auto gearbox combo. AMG models followed, from October 2006 with the 450kW/1000Nm 6.0-litre V12 S65 L AMG featuring a five-speed auto, while the 386kW/630Nm 6.2-litre V8 petrol with 7G-Tronic lobbed in from September 2007. From May 2008 the first S-class diesel arrived in the guise of the 173kW/540Nm 3.0-litre V6 S320 CDI 7G-Tronic, but sales of the latter were slow.

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