First Look: 2010 Mercedes Benz S-Class

Tom Ludwick
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Mercedes Benz has revealed the slightly tweaked styling of its flagship model. However, the real improvements are in the bits you cannot see.

Since the current-gen S-class was overhauled just three years prior, Mercedes only slightly massaged the exterior styling. Up front, the arrow-shaped grille has become more pronounced. The shape of the front bumper has also been altered and now features a light-catching chrome accent below the air intakes. Rounding out the back, Mercedes visibly integrated the tailpipes into the rear bumper.

Exterior lighting was also "restyLED". The bi-xenon headlamps retain their former shape, but now boast LED indicators on their lower edge. A set of slim LED daytime running lights and fog lamps blend nicely into the new front bumper. Finally, the taillights have also been reworked and now glow in a double-c pattern illuminated by, you guessed it, LEDs.

S-class models have always been recognized for their smattering of the latest safety equipment, and the latest ones do not disappoint. One of its innovations is the PRE-SAFE Brake which can activate the maximum braking pressure if the driver fails to recognize the immediate danger of a rear-end collision. A feature called ATTENTION ASSIST is able to alert the driver if he or she is getting drowsy and Lane Keeping Assist vibrates the steering wheel if the driver starts drifting. Mercedes engineers have even improved the Active Body Control (ABC) suspension to compensate for the effects of crosswinds.

Perhaps the most important change for S-class range is the addition of a new model: the S400 hybrid. The S400 achieves an estimated 29 mpg combined fuel economy, unheard of in its class. It manages such efficiency through a modified 3.5-liter V-6 engine, magneto-electric motor, seven-speed automatic transmission, and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery. The use of the high-tech battery in a car is a world's first. The S400 is also equipped with other common hybrid components such as regenerative braking and a start - stop function.

The S400 joins the S550, S550 4MATIC, S63 AMG, S600, and S65 AMG in the U.S. lineup. Expect to see the 2010 S-class models appearing in U.S. showrooms beginning in August.

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