Mercedes-Benz's flagship S-Class sedan has been redesigned for the 2007 model year and emerges as a larger car with a raft of safety features and a new V-8 engine. The S-Class hits U.S. dealerships in early 2006.
Available safety features include Mercedes-Benz's Pre-Safe system, which can tighten the front seat belts, close the sunroof and side windows, and adjust passenger seats for optimal safety when a collision is unavoidable. Also offered is an infrared night vision system that can project a black-and-white video image of the road ahead onto a display in the instrument cluster.
The new S-Class' exterior shape doesn't stray far from the previous generation's conservative look, but it does feature pronounced fender flares that resemble those of the automaker's recently redesigned M-Class sport utility vehicle. The door bump strips have been removed, leaving the sheet metal smooth and uncluttered, and the headlight assemblies are more angular than those of prior models. The sedan's trunklid calls to mind the BMW 7 Series.
The redesigned S-Class is larger than its predecessor. Exterior length is up 1.7 inches, it's almost an inch wider and its wheelbase is more than 3 inches longer. The enlarged dimensions translate to more space for occupants and cargo.
Chrome and wood accents adorn the inside of the S-Class. As opposed to a console-located gearshift, the driver selects Park, Drive and Reverse via a stalk on the right side of the steering column. Drivers who wish to manually control the automatic transmission can do so with shift buttons located on the back of the steering wheel.
The S-Class' new COMAND system features an 8-inch screen high on the center stack that can be operated via a control knob on the center console. At first glance, it appears much like Audi's Multi Media Interface or BMW's iDrive. The stereo, navigation system and climate control system can also be operated with traditional buttons. Four-stage massaging seats are available.
Under the Hood
The 5.5-liter V-8 develops 382 horsepower and 391 pounds-feet of torque. Whereas prior S-Class V-8s had three valves per cylinder, the new V-8 has four. It also features variable valve timing. The V-8 teams with a seven-speed-automatic transmission. Also available is a 510-hp, twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-12 that churns out a pavement-wrinkling 612 pounds-feet of torque. The V-12 works with a five-speed automatic.
In addition to Pre-Safe and infrared night vision, available safety features include Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control and Brake Assist Plus. Brake Assist Plus works in conjunction with Distronic Plus radar signals and can increase brake pressure in order to avoid a collision. Distronic Plus also includes front and rear radar park assist.