Cars associated with luxury, technological innovation and performance in a perfect blend are a rare combination in the automotive world. One of the most distinct names that is on this list of cars is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Over the years, the luxury sedan has earned numerous awards including best-seller and is often regarded as one of the best cars in the world. In this week’s edition of DubiCars Car Spotlight, we are rolling the red carpet to the unhinged and unapologetic S-Class.
How S-Class Came Into Existence?
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, short for “Sonderklasse” in German, which translates to “Special Class” in English, has a long and prestigious history. The S-Class legacy began with distinguished predecessors. Introduced in 1954, the W180, or “Ponton,” marked a shift in Mercedes-Benz design with its pontoon-shaped body. Named after Konrad Adenauer, the W189 catered to heads of state and business leaders, establishing Mercedes-Benz as a symbol of luxury and power.
The W111, or “Fintail,” debuted in 1959 with its signature tailfins, showcasing a distinctive design in the brand’s history. Building upon the foundation of the W111, the W112 took luxury to new heights in 1961, with a more powerful engine and additional comfort features. Finally, the 1965 W108/W109 series featured a luxurious cabin and became a template for the S-Class over the years.
1st Generation (W116) | 1972 – 1980
The W116 was produced from 1972 to 1980. It was the first official model to carry the “S-Class” designation. It was the first production car to feature anti-lock brakes (ABS), which later became a standard safety feature in many vehicles. Mercedes-Benz offered an airbag as an option in the W116, making it one of the first cars to feature this safety technology.
Mercedes-Benz introduced a long-wheelbase version of the W116, providing even more rear-seat legroom. This long-wheelbase variant laid the foundation for the extended versions of future S-Class models. The 1st Generation S-Class (W116) offered a variety of engine options ranging from a 2.7-litre inline-6 to a 6.9-litre V8.
2nd Gen (W126) | 1979 – 1992
The W126 was produced from 1979 to 1992, featuring a classic and timeless design, characterized by its clean lines and smooth, aerodynamic profile. It was available in both short-wheelbase (SE) and long-wheelbase (SEL) versions. The W126 introduced an optional self-leveling rear suspension system, enhancing ride comfort and stability. This feature became a hallmark of future S-Class models.
The W126 featured an advanced climate control system with improved air conditioning and heating capabilities. The W126 was available in a range of petrol and diesel engine options. Petrol engines ranged between 2.8L and 5.6L V8, while diesel engines ranged between 3.0L and 3.4L.
3rd Gen (W140) | 1991 – 1998
The W140 featured a more aerodynamic design compared to the W126. The W140 was equipped with a closed-circuit camera system for parking assistance. It was one of the first production cars to feature double-glazed windows. Mercedes-Benz also introduced power-assisted closing for the doors and trunk.
The W140 also featured an Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with a hydraulic suspension that adjusted damping rates based on driving conditions. The German automaker introduced a powerful 6.0-litre V12 engine on the top-spec S600 model in this generation.
4th Gen (W220) | 1998 – 2005
The W220 by Mercedes-Benz introduced the twin-headlamp design and moved away from the quad-headlamp layout of the W140. It was the first S-Class with Airmatic air suspension and some models featured Active Body Control for dynamic suspension adjustments.
The W220 S-Class continued the safety legacy with innovations like pre-tensioned seat belts. Mercedes-Benz introduced the COMAND system, integrating navigation, entertainment, and communication. Distronic cruise control, a radar-based system, was also featured for automatic speed adjustments based on the vehicle in front.
The W220 offered a variety of diesel and petrol engine options. Performance versions included the S55 AMG and S65 AMG, equipped with V8 and V12 engines, respectively.
5th Gen (W221) | 2006 – 2013
The W221 had a more modern design than the W220, featuring a sleeker appearance and the introduction of LED lighting technology for daytime running lights and taillights.
Constructed with a significant amount of aluminium, the W221 is aimed at reducing weight and improving fuel efficiency. It also featured the Magic Body Control system, using cameras to scan the road and adjust the suspension for enhanced comfort.
Safety features on the W221 included a Pre-Safe Brake, Attention Assist, and Night View Assist with pedestrian detection. Blind Spot Assist warned drivers of vehicles in their blind spot during lane changes.
Mercedes introduced an early version of a petrol-hybrid engine in the W221, utilizing a 3.5-litre V6 unit. The hybrid system, working with the gasoline engine, is aimed at improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Other engine options included V6, V8, and V12 petrol powertrains, as well as V6 and V12 diesel powertrains.
6th Gen (W222) | 2013 – 2020
The W222 showcased advanced lighting, featuring Multibeam LED headlights that adapted to traffic conditions. Inside, it introduced ambient lighting with various colour options, a first for the S-Class.
The W222, especially in long-wheelbase models, offered an Executive Rear Seat Package with added comfort features like reclining seats, built-in massaging, and rear-seat entertainment. The Magic Sky Control allowed occupants to adjust the transparency of the panoramic sunroof.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) was a highlight, setting the stage for autonomous driving with features like Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot for semi-autonomous driving in specific conditions.
Mercedes introduced a plug-in hybrid for the W222, combining a 3.0-litre V6 gasoline engine with an electric motor. Non-hybrid options included gasoline engines like the 3.5-litre V6 and 6.0-litre V12 for AMG performance models, while diesel engines remained available in certain markets.
C217 & A217 | 2014 – 2020
Also introduced in the 6th gen model of the S-Class were, C217 – a two-door luxury coupe model, and A217, a convertible model within the S-Class lineup. Both models were produced for around 5 years between 2015 and 2020. Mercedes-Benz ultimately cancelled both models ahead of introducing the new-gen S-Class due to low demand.
7th Gen (W223) | 2020 – Present
The current-generation model of the S-Class has been in production since 2020. The W223 continues the tradition of elegant and sophisticated design, featuring a prominent grille, sleek lines, and LED lighting. Mercedes-Benz took the infotainment system game to the next level with their latest version of the AI-assisted MBUX feature. This enabled advanced voice control, augmented reality navigation, and improved connectivity features.
The W223 also features rear-axle steering, enhancing manoeuvrability at lower speeds and improving stability at higher speeds. The E-Active Body Control system, which uses a 48-volt system to control suspension settings individually for each wheel, contributes to improved ride comfort and handling.
The W223 Mercedes-Benz S-Class engine options include:
- 3.0-liter inline-six engine with EQ Boost mild-hybrid
- 4.0-liter V8 engine with EQ Boost mild-hybrid
- 4.0-liter V8 engine with EQ Boost mild-hybrid
- 3.0-liter inline-six engine plug-in hybrid
- 4.0-liter V8 engine plug-in hybrid
- 2.9-litre inline-six diesel engine
- Powered, Massaging & Ventilated Seats
- Rear-seat Entertainment
- Powered Doors
- Wireless Phone Charger
- Ambient Lighting
- Sun Blinds
- MBUX AI Assistance
- Level 2+ ADAS
- Adaptive Suspension
The “S-Guard” is Mercedes-Benz’s line of armoured vehicles based on the S-Class sedan. These vehicles feature ballistic-resistant materials, reinforced structures, security glass, run-flat tires, and optional security enhancements. Designed for individuals requiring enhanced security without compromising luxury, S-Guard models are discreet in appearance and cater to government officials, dignitaries, and high-profile individuals.
Most Popular Mercedes-Benz S-Class Generations In The UAE
The 6th-gen W222 and the 7th-gen W223 models are popular in the UAE. These two models represent advanced comfort, features and technology to provide the opulent feeling that the S-Class sedans are known for. However, older generations of models of the S-Class have now become a collectors item.
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