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Driven: Mercedes updates S-Class limo

Class act: Mercedes has updated its S-Class flagship sedan, with a smaller range, tweaked styling and new engine choices.

Mercedes targeting sales crown with refreshed S-Class sedan range

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Mercedes-Benz logo14 Dec 2017

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific is aiming to regain its title as segment sales leader with its refreshed S-Class upper large luxury sedan, after an underwhelming retail performance in 2017.

Last year saw Mercedes sell 312 examples of the S-Class to clinch its third straight segment sales crown, but with one month left in 2017, the German luxury car-maker has registered just 101 units of its large luxury limo representing a 56.2 per cent drop year on year.

It is currently tied for second place with the Porsche Panamera, with both trailing BMW’s 7 Series that has recorded 154 sales to the end of November.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Australian launch of the updated S-Class, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific public relations and product communications manager Jerry Stamoulis said the brand expects the rejuvenated S-Class to return to its 2016 volume.

“If you look at last year’s S-Class numbers, I think that’s what we’ll probably see over the next 12 months,” he said.

Mr Stamoulis said that the reason for the drop in sales this year was due to Mercedes keeping low levels of S-Class stock ahead of the refresh.

“S-Class isn’t the type of vehicle you hold a lot of stock of just before a facelift or a new model, so if you look at VFACTS over the last 12 months you’ll see how that has tapered down,” he said.

“A lot of S-Class customers would prefer to have a car that is registered in 2018 rather than late ‘17, so our stock levels have been reduced and tapered down towards the end of this year. So we’ll see similar levels come back next year.

“(We) always aim to lead every segment we’re in, and I think we’ll be surprised if we don’t regain segment leadership with S-Class.

“We’ve held it for a number of years – three years in a row – and with the changes, with the updates and technology, it’s a pretty strong business case for these customers.”

With the 2018 update, Mercedes has trimmed both its variant numbers and pricing of its range, while introducing new technology, styling and engines through the line-up.

The range now opens from $195,900 plus on-roads for the diesel-powered S350d variant, down $25,055 from the $220,955 model it replaces.

Both the S350d and long-wheelbase S400d have been bolstered by the addition of the new 3.0-litre OM656 inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel mill, which outputs 210kW/600Nm under the bonnet of the S350d, up to 250kW/700Nm in the S400d.

Standard equipment across the range includes air suspension with adaptive damping, Comand Online with widescreen cockpit, automatic climate control, multifunction steering wheel with touchpad sensors, smartphone integration, and multi-beam LED headlights with 84 LEDs in each light and a high-beam range of up to 650 metres.

Active lane change assist and traffic sign assist have been added to the list of standard safety features, which include active braking assist, drowsiness protection, evasive steering assist, pre-safe protection system, pre-safe sound and crosswind assist.

Standard equipment on the S350d includes keyless go, panoramic sliding sunroof, digital TV tuner, power closing doors and bootlid, 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, heated and ventilated front seats, head-up display, 360-degree cameras, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

The S400d L, available from $222,500, adds electrically adjustable rear outer seats, pre-installation for rear entertainment features, electric blinds on rear side windows and rear window, rear climate control, and 20-inch hoops.

Sharing the S400d’s specification is the $227,500 S450 L, which retains the 270kW/520Nm twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 from the outgoing model.

Mr Stamoulis said that when the M256 inline six-cylinder petrol engine arrives in right-hand-drive configuration, which is said to produce around 300kW and over 500Nm, it would replace the existing V6 in the line-up.

Next up is the S560 which replaces the S500, available in short and long-wheelbase form and priced from $270,000 and $295,000, respectively.

The S560 eschews the old turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 in favour of the twin-turbo 4.0-litre bent eight used across the Mercedes-AMG range, which pumps out 375kW/700Nm.

Additional equipment includes the Energising comfort feature, air balance interior fragrance package, brown burr walnut high gloss wood trim, nappa leather upholstery, anti-theft protection package and heat and noise-insulating glass.

The long-wheelbase version further adds luxury head restraints for front-seat passengers and a rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headsets.

Joining the range in mid-2018 will be the S560e plug-in hybrid, which will team the S450’s petrol V6 to an electric motor and battery pack with a 50km electric driving range. Pricing will likely be similar to the S560 L.

The sole AMG-fettled variant, the long-wheelbase-only S63 L is priced from $375,000 and tweaks the 4.0-litre force-fed V8, boosting output to 450kW/900Nm.

It adds a sports exhaust, dynamic select, high-performance brakes, sports steering and suspension, red brake callipers, multi-contour seats for front passengers, heated and ventilated rear seats, increased fuel tank capacity, tyre pressure monitor, and AMG-specific trim inside and out.

Topping the range is the twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12-powered Mercedes-Maybach S650 that punches out 463kW and a massive 1000Nm of torque.

Taking specification from the S560 L model, the S650 adds a Burmester 3D surround sound system with 24 speakers, Dinamica microfibre roofliner, door sill panels with ‘Maybach’ lettering, nappa leather upholstery with Maybach emblems in centre armrests, and exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels.

As the most expensive variant in the range, the S650 is priced from $425,000.

All up, the variant range is reduced over the outgoing model by about a third.

Each variant sends power to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission, except for the S650 which employs a seven-speed auto.

Exterior styling has also been tweaked, with a new front apron, headlight and tail-light signature, and grille.

Mercedes-Benz expects the first examples of the new S-Class to arrive in showrooms in January, while coupe and convertible variants will follow in the first half of 2018.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class pricing
S350d (a)$195,900
S400d L (a)$222,500
S450 L (a)$227,500
S560 (a)$270,000
S560 L (a)$295,000
AMG S63 L (a)$375,000
Maybach S650 (a)$425,000
*Excludes on-road costs

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