What's New for 1999
A limited-production Grand Edition S500 debuts.
Big Mercedes sedans have always been the ultimate automobiles. They scream success, are engineered to be driven hard and keep the general public at bay. The S-Class projects confidence, prestige and a certain amount of cold indifference.
Yet there is nothing cold or indifferent about driving the new engines of S-Class sedans that Mercedes rolled out for 1999. In fact, they're so sultry they could make your heart melt. Under the hood of the S320, Mercedes provides a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine making 228 horsepower. Available in a regular or long wheelbase, this sedan starts around $65,000.
Up the ante a bit to approximately $74,000 and you can find yourself in the lap of the luxurious S420 long wheelbase model, complete with 275 horses @5700 rpm and a mammoth V8 engine. The next rung up the prestige ladder brings you to the S500 sedan, offering a whopping 315 horsepower @5600 rpm and a 5.0-liter V8 for a whopping $87,500. A limited-production S500 Grand Edition is also available to 600 people and features special wheels, tires, paint, wood trim and other luxuries.
But if that's not enough, you can also reach for the brass key ring of the limited-production S600 model, which catapults you into 389 horses, a 6.0-liter V12 engine with 420 foot-pounds of torque @3800 rpm and a fine-tuned road-eating machine that few can compete with. Oh yeah, and a price tag around $134,000 that few can afford.
To keep occupants safe inside these powerful vehicles, Mercedes provides ABS, front and side airbags, Brake Assist, BabySmart child seat detection and ASR traction control. Also featured is a passenger seat occupant detection sensor, which shuts down the front and side airbags if it does not detect the presence of 26 pounds or more. Other amenities include a Bose audio system, automatic transmission, the Flexible Service System which measures vehicle use to determine the oil and filter change intervals, 12-way power front seats and a tilt/telescoping steering column.
Standard on the S600 and optional on other S-Class models is the Electronic Stability Program that detects impending spin or slide and applies selective braking to keep the car going where it is pointed.
While the S-Class costs more than just about anything printed on these pages, the cars are enticing. Still, if you've got this much money to spend, take a look at the Jaguars and the BMW 7-Series before deciding which lot to return to with your checkbook.