1 Apr 2006
The ninth generation of what’s widely touted as the world’s best motor car was released at the Melbourne Motor Show in February.
The 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre V8-powered long-wheelbase S500L was the first of the W221 S-class sedans to arrive in Australia.
While the short-wheelbase S500 was a special order only proposition, the entry-level 200kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6-powered S350 stepped in from April ’06.
The W221 also extends to the 380kW/830Nm 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12-powered S600L, while the S320 CDI, as well as AMG variants, arrive in early 2007.
As well as being stiffer, heavier and safer than the W220 S-class sedan sold here since March 1999, the new model’s 33mm-longer body (43mm longer for the LWB) is still dwarfed by the W140 "Schwein Klasse" that preceded the W220 in the early 90s.
Compared to the W220, the W221’s 16mm wider and 29mm higher body also rides on a 70mm-longer wheelbase (80mm longer in the LWB’s case), delivering 39mm more shoulder room, 52mm more legroom and 5mm more headroom.
For the extra readies, the latest incarnation of the car that brought us the airbag and the passenger safety cell offers the obligatory host of new technologies, many of which are of course optional.
The entry-level S350 features standard safety items like ESP stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, brake assist, eight airbags, NECK-PRO front head restraints and PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection.
As standard, there’s also AIRMATIC DC semi-active air suspension with ADS adaptive damping system, active bi-Xenon headlights with washers and cornering lights, 17-inch alloys front/rear foglights, front/rear PARKTRONIC parking sensors, a two-stage rain sensor, tinted glass, power-closing boot, six-DVD/CD/MP3 player, TV tuner, telephone, satellite-navigation, COMAND cockpit management and data system with LINGUATRONIC voice control, sunroof, trip computer, EASY ENTRY access/egress system, fully auto power windows/mirrors, speed-sensitive power steering, a power-adjustable steering wheel with audio/trip controls, full leather trim with powered/memory front seats, automatic central locking, Calyptus wood trim, an electronic park brake with hill-start assist, cruise control, SPPEDTRONIC speed limiter, one-touch indicators, tyre pressure and brake pad wear monitors, full-size spare wheel and a seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission with DIRECT SELECT stalk-mounted gear selector and steering wheel shift buttons.
On top of this and an extra 130mm of rear legroom, S350L adds an electric rear blind, power-adjustable outboard rear seats and a rear-mounted front passenger seat adjuster.
For 2008 Mercedes-Benz introduced its first S-class diesel to the Australian market.
The new W221-series S320 CDI diesel S-class engine is a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that develops 173kW at 3600rpm and 540Nm at 1600-2800rpm. This is an optimised version of the engine used in other Mercedes-Benz models that develops peak 165kW/510Nm outputs.
Designed to meet Euro IV emissions requirements, the engine has two catalytic converters fitted to the exhaust system and is the first Mercedes-Benz engine fitted with a particulate filter.
Fuel consumption is quoted as 8.3L/100km combined, with C02 emissions of 220gm/km. Claimed performance figures are 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h.
The rest of the S320 CDI is the familiar S-class package. A seven-speed automatic transmission drives the rear wheels, and the S320 CDI has front, side and side curtain airbags and traction and stability control fitted.