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Seen at last: New Mercedes S-Class

Class act: Mercedes-Benz’s all-new S-Class limousine has finally had its international debut.

Mercedes-Benz promises an S-Class dripping in class and technology, and delivers it


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16 May 2013

MERCEDES-Benz has finally revealed its flagship S-Class limousine – and there is not a single light bulb in it.

Instead, the big Benz due on sale in Australia in November boasts about 900 low-powered LEDs covering everything from the headlights to the ambient lighting inside the cabin that gives the sense of luxury and warmth.

The switch away from the traditional incandescent light bulb is one of a raft of new technologies that the car-maker is bringing in, and that one day will trickle down to even the smallest car in the three-pointed star badge’s line-up.

The spread of technology runs even deeper. A pair of forward-looking cameras scan the road ahead, and let the all-aluminium S-Class know if a bump is approaching. The limousine can then automatically adjust its air suspension settings to absorb it.

The car’s satellite navigation system will even tie in with Google Maps, showing drivers a real-world render of their destination, and even mining the online mapping service’s database to help find a destination.

The S-Class’s night vision camera has had a few enhancements to make it even better. It now includes thermal imaging, so instead of showing up ghostly images of someone walking along the edge of a road, it can make them more visible to the driver.

Safety has also taken a step forward. Those cameras can also look out for pedestrians and passing traffic, and if the S-Class thinks the driver hasn’t spotted them, it will automatically pre-load the brakes for an emergency stop.

Rear-seat passengers gain a bit of kit first rolled out in the ESF Safety Concept revealed in 2009 – seatbelt-mounted airbags known as a “beltbag”. According to Mercedes-Benz, these are “able to reduce the risk of injury to passengers in the rear in a head-on collision by lessening the strain placed on the ribcage”.

Bits missing from the ESF concept include a front-mounted airbag that drops down from below the engine bay of the S-Class to increase braking friction, and an internal airbag that prevents occupants’ heads from hitting in the event of a side-on collisionEnough of the technology, though – what about the luxury? Mercedes-Benz says it turned the development of this generation of S-Class upside down, starting with the long-wheelbase model that adds more space to both knee and shoulder room.

We’ve already seen a sneak glimpse of the inside of the new S-Class, but details at the time were scant. Now we know a bit more.

According to the luxury car-maker, the theme of “essence of luxury” and goal of “highest perceived quality” were strictly adhered to.

The long-wheelbase model will get the choice of five different rear seats – including a reclining one that will fall back on an almost 45-degree angle. While it doesn’t sound much in terms of a business-class aeroplane, Mercedes-Benz claims it is the best on offer on the roads.

There’s even a “first class” rear-seat option for the long-wheelbase model, with tables that fold out of the extended centre console.

If you’d prefer not to sit in the back, there’s no shame in driving yourself around. The seat behind the classy, leather- and wood-wrapped steering wheel now has 20mm more headroom.

A fully digital dash is also spread within easy reach of the driver. Mercedes has joined two LCD screens together to provide a 12.3-inch display stretching out from the instrument cluster.

The one directly in front of the driver is a fully digital instrument display, while the one next to it houses all the infotainment and climate control settings.

At 5116mm, the new short-wheelbase S-Class is now 20mm longer than the model it replaces – the wheelbase is unchanged – and is 28mm wider and 25mm lower than the generation it replaces. The long-wheelbase version stays the same length – 5246mm.

In terms of drivetrains, S-Class buyers internationally will have the choice of a 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 producing 190kW of power and a generous 620Nm of torque and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, and using about 5.6 litres of fuel every 100 kilometres it travels – or about the equivalent of a small hatchback.

For those preferring petrol-fed drivetrains, the choice is either hybrid 3.5-litre V6, or a twin-turbo 4.7-litre V8.

The petrol-electric S400 Hybrid produces a combined 245kW and 612Nm of torque for a fuel use rate of about 6.8L/100km, while the V8-engined S500 turns out 335kW and 700Nm while using about 9.1L/100km. Both again use a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Mercedes-Benz Australia said local pricing, specifications and options would be announced closer to launch.

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