HAMBURG, Germany – Mercedes-Benz gave its über-sedan, the 2014 W222 S-class, the unveiling it deserves here Wednesday, one befitting its decades-old headliner. Fending off upstarts from Munich and Ingolstadt, Tokyo and Seoul, and a likely volley from a resurgent Detroit, the S-class is the sedan that defines Mercedes-Benz, no matter what commodity cars and CUVs it launches to capture the aspiring classes.
Because the S-class is essentially a chauffeur-driven car in the all-important Chinese market, Mercedes designed the new luxury sedan first as a long-wheelbase model (W222) and then worked on the short-wheelbase (V222) variant.
In North America, where customers almost always drive their own the S-class, Mercedes will sell only the long-wheelbase variant. The wheelbase remains unchanged at 124.6 inches. Overall length is the same, too, at 206.5 inches, but the S-class grows in several other dimensions. Width is up 1.1 inches, to 73.7 inches, and height is up 0.7 inch, to 58.7 inches. Mercedes says front headroom is up by 0.48 inch, front shoulder space gains 0.55 inch, front elbow room increases 0.4 inch, rear knee room grows 0.55 inch, and rear shoulder room is up 0.35 inch.
New standard equipment includes collision-prevention assist; magic vision control; mbrace2; a Burmeister audio system; LED ambient lighting with seven colors, five dimming levels, and four dimming zones; and two 12.3-inch high-resolution screens on the dash head unit and instrument cluster.
Competitive pressure will probably keep the base price of the S-class in the low-$90s, so the extra-cost options are more important than ever for adding to profits. Mercedes has gone all-out in this department with the new S-class. There’s even more emphasis on the comfort of China’s rear-seat passengers.
One high-tech option takes advantage of the car’s front stereo camera, which can also be used for collision mitigation and even basic autonomous driving to optimize the ride/handling equation. The Magnetic Body Control option uses the camera to read the road surface just ahead and adjust the dampers accordingly.
Other gee-wow options include:
- Energizing massage seats, front and rear, based on the hot stone principle. It uses 14 air cushions and the heated seats for driver/passenger massage.
- A rear-seat package with airbag belts (like the Ford Explorer), pre-safe rear, four-zone climate control, and a chauffeur package.
- A Warmth & Comfort package with a heated steering wheel, heated door panels, heated front and rear armrests, heated and ventilated rear seats, and power memory rear seats.
- An air balance package with adjustable fragrance, ionization, and filtration through the heating/ventilation/air-conditioning system.
- New-generation driver assistance with active lane keeping assistance, Distronic Plus with steering assist, and BAS Plus cross-traffic assist, plus Pre-Safe brakes with pedestrian recognition.
- New-generation active parking assist with semi-automatic curbside parking.
- The long-wheelbase car comes with five rear-seat options, including First Class, with one long center console between the 2+2 seating, thermo cupholders with Peltier technology for longer cooling and heating, and two aircraft-style foldaway tables. The rear seats recline up to 43.5 degrees, with the seatback and cushion adjusting separately.
2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- On Sale: September (S550); November (S550 4Matic)
- Price Range: $92,000 – $150,000 (est.)
- Engine: 4.7L twin-turbocharged V-8, 455 hp, 516 lb-ft.
- Drive: Rear- or all-wheel