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Already the benchmark for flagship luxury sedans, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class aims even farther upmarket with a host of new variants.
Wide variety of impressive, powerful engines; world-class craftsmanship; magnetic levitation-like ride quality; a showcase of convenience and safety technology; whisper-quiet.
Not for the faint of wallet; overwhelming tech and interior features.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is fully redesigned.
Mercedes is swinging for the fences this year with the redesigned S-Class. The German automaker has even said as much and plans to introduce no fewer than six new S-Class models through this year and into next. Whether all of them come to the North American market is another question, but the house that Karl and Gottlieb built is nothing if not ambitious.
The introductions begin with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan in standard and long-wheelbase versions. A decadent stretched-wheelbase "Pullman" model (or two) will arrive to fill the void left by the departed Maybach marque. Next year, the S-Class coupe arrives, effectively replacing the CL-Class nameplate, while a follow-up four-seat convertible should give Mercedes a formidable pair of Bentley Continental GT challengers.
The shape and profile remain largely untouched, as the new S-Class is less than an inch longer and barely an inch wider than the current model. The S-Class' softer, rolling curves give way to tighter, sharper lines, and a more muscular front fascia features larger lower intakes, a wider, more upright grille and a new headlight design. The rear end gets a similarly chiseled new look.
Inside, a revised COMAND interface controls the S-Class' array of vehicle settings and multimedia technology. An expansive 12.3-inch screen in the center stack and additional buttons are arrayed horseshoe-like around the dial controller and nifty hand rest near the center console. Round vents replace the horizontal design for a classic, semi-retro look, and in the dash is a display nearly as big as the COMAND monitor that shows digital "analog-look" gauges with a large information center display in between. And in a more unconventional touch, the steering wheel uses a single "spoke" design -- there's no support column extending to the bottom of the wheel -- for a quasi-floating effect.
Engine options in global markets will be plenty, but for its initial U.S. launch, the 2014 S-Class will only offer a revised version of the outgoing model's twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8. In S500 trim, the carryover engine produces 449 horsepower (up 20 hp) and 516 pound-feet of torque and it will pair with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes says the new S500 will cover zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, down from the previous 5.4 seconds. A nine-speed transmission is likely for the 2015 model.
The S500 initially arrives with rear-wheel drive only, but an all-wheel-drive 4Matic model should come by November. At the top end of the lineup, a new S63 AMG will continue to use a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 generating 544 hp, or 571 hp with an optional performance package. All-wheel drive will be standard.
Other engines that could make it to the States by 2014 include a 302-hp 3.5-liter V6 hybrid, a 3.0-liter diesel and a 6.0-liter V12 for the S65 AMG good for a suicidal 621 hp.
Of course, the S-Class would not be a Mercedes-Benz flagship without a tour de tech. One safety system, designed for use in Germany but adaptable to other markets, recognizes traffic signs and can alert wrong-way drivers of their error. An available adaptive suspension will use multiple onboard cameras to read the road ahead and adjust the damping to suit the surface. The Distronic Plus steering system, along with lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and multiple sensors and radar systems almost make the S-Class an autonomous driving car. There's even an inflatable rear seatbelt system, and Mercedes is touting that the new S-Class uses all-LED lighting throughout.
Look for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class to arrive in the fall and begin serving a wide swath between the well-heeled and golden-slippered. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect the starting $92,350 sticker to climb slightly. Check back for a full review of the new S-Class, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice, as more information becomes available.
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