As with a lot of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it facelifts we’ve seen from German brands lately, what’s particularly interesting about the new-ish S-Class is what’s under the bonnet. Chiefly, straight-sixes.
Having switched to V6 power back in the late 1990s, Mercedes is bringing back this well-balanced, less complex engine configuration to its cars.
The S350d and S400d are both powered by a new straight-six, 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine, making 207 and 247bhp respectively. A 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine is on the way too, supplemented by a 48-volt sub-system and a lag-killing “electric booster compressor”.
At the shouty end of the scale, the AMG S63 (below) has ditched the old 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 in favour of the newer 4.0 litre lump, which in the go-faster S will produce 612bhp and 663lb ft. It’ll do 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds, which - for a big luxury tank like the S-Class - is frankly silly.
Want even more thrust? There’s still the option of the V12-powered S65, putting out 621bhp and an unholy 737lb ft.
For those who value luxury over physics-defying pace, the Mercedes-Mayback S560 is the one to go for. It’s powered by the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as the ‘regular’ S560, making 463bhp.
All models receive significantly upgraded autonomous systems, with improvements to ‘Active Proximity Control’, ‘Active Steer Assist’ and ‘Active Lane Change Assist’ to name a few.
The facelift itself is mostly restricted to tweaked front and rear bumpers, and as such, it’s not going to be easy to tell the refreshed models apart. On the inside meanwhile, the S benefits from a new steering wheel (it doesn’t resembled a deranged smiley face anymore), an updated digital instrument cluster, an improved infotainment system and ambient lighting in 64 different colours.
There’s even something called an ‘energising comfort control’ which works with the climate control, the fragrance system, the massage seats, the aforementioned lighting and more for the sake of ‘wellness’. There are six options to choose from: Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and Training. Lovely.
The new S-Class goes on sale later this year, with pricing yet to be revealed. It’s on display now at the Shanghai Motor Show.