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Mercedes-Benz S-Class

W221 Series II

1 Oct 2009

MERCEDES-BENZ released a revised version of its ninth-generation S-class sedan in Australia in late 2009, featuring small visual titivations and more standard features.

However, while prices leaped up by about eight per cent, the company claimed that the extra equipment fitted, which amounts to an estimated 15 per cent in added value, more than compensates for the price rises.

And while there are no mechanical changes, minor modifications to airflow and other efficiency drives such as lower-rolling resistance tyres help deliver up to seven per cent better fuel economy.

Safety, too, improves, with the inclusion of a reverse camera and radar-based driver assistance devices in all models, while the V12 versions (optional on V8s) boast better steering capabilities as a result of better anti-crosswind technology.

But it does require a keen eye to spot the physical changes to the range, with the differences between this and the last S-class most pronounced at night, thanks to a new LED lighting package front and rear.

The grille is wider and features a more pronounced wedge shape, astride a redesigned bumper that is also wider as well as 20mm longer, and is meant to give the ‘S’ more road presence.

Moving on to the side of the S-class, Mercedes has fitted LED lighting to the ‘re-profiled’ exterior mirrors that, along with new A-pillar drain channels, improved joint seals for the headlights and bonnet and a smaller spoiler lip, are now aerodynamically sounder.

From the rear two C-shaped LED formations form each tail-light, replacing the distinctive body-coloured strips found on the previous W221. The bumper out back has also been restyled.

Inside the changes are limited to new trim and materials, a redesigned steering wheel, extended wood inserts on the dashboard, modified seats for improved comfort, the introduction of three ambient lighting colours instead of just one, better functioning seatbelts, and an improved entertainment/media system.

The central screen now features ‘Splitview’ technology that allows the front-seat passenger to view one thing while the driver sees another. As always, the driver cannot view TV or DVD with the car on the move.

New to the standard features list on the base S-class are Bluetooth connectivity, a USB and SD card interface, keyless entry and go, a remote boot lid opening, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Mercedes has also added automatic radar-controlled cruise control to all models, which now employs the ‘Pre-safe’ braking system to maximise stopping power if an unavoidable accident is imminent.

Present too is a drowsiness detection device dubbed ‘Attention Assist’ that monitors a host of parameters continuously to alert drivers to take a break is fitted to all models, as well as Torque Vectoring Brake, which brakes the appropriate wheel for a smoother and safer cornering angle.

Engine choices are as before, which means a V6 petrol or diesel, as well as V8 and a V12 petrol powerplants, and all drive the rear wheels via a 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox.

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