Introduced in 1972, and dubbed the best car in the world, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a leader in luxury vehicles. The S-Class, formerly known as Sonderklasse (German for "special class"), is one of the grandest offerings any motor car has to offer.
For 2018, the S-Class sees a mid-cycle update. The big-league change comes in the form of an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). With this, the 2018 S-Class becomes the first Mercedes in India to feature ADAS — a vehicle system that helps automate/adapt/enhance better and safer driving.
Setting this specialized system aside, what other significant changes and styling upgrades bring the 2018 Mercedes S-Class to life? Are you wondering if the grandiose top-of-the-range Benz has gotten better? Us too. Read on to find out.
Design & Styling
At first glance, the 2018 S-Class is practically a twin of its predecessor. While the essential shape of the car is preserved, on closer review, you will notice the S-Class facelift features an embossing design, with smooth lines and curves in traditional Gorden Wagener fashion. The 2018 S-Class retains all the traits from its predecessors, yet still remains ahead of its time.
The traditional three-slat grille retains its place in the 2018 model. Also seen in the new radiator grille are vertical strips with a high-gloss black finish. The redesigned LED headlamps now feature three distinctive LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). Mercedes calls this the ‘Triple Torch' design. This unique LED eyebrow-effect DRLs add hierarchy to the Mercedes range. The S-Class has three, while the E-class gets two, and the C-Class just the one. The front bumper now gets pronounced intakes along with some chrome treatment. The S-Class is now 24mm and 31mm wider at the front and rear, respectively.
The side profile highlights the play of balance between sportiness and elegance in the best possible way. The subtle, yet strong shoulder line begin at the front wheel arches and ultimately blends into the rear arch, defining the side profile. Sleek chrome garnishes adorn both sides of the car. With a wheelbase of 3035mm, the S-Class is definitely not a short car.
The rear end of the 2018 Mercedes S-Class facelift looks similar to its previous version. The car features the same LED cluster as before. At the base rests two wide tail pipes on either side of the bumper. Unlike the recent trend of fake chrome garnishes instead of actual exhausts, the new Mercedes S-Class facelift sports a traditional pair of muffler tips.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is simply an elegant saloon. Lately, we have seen varied versions of Mercedes's design philosophy — Sensual Purity. And while some may have a difference of opinion (like the newly unveiled AMG GT 4-Door Coupe), the Mercedes-Benz remains a looker in the minds of most.
If a luxurious, contemporary and decadent smelling cabin is right up your alley, the S-Class will not disappoint. Right from the climate control's integrated air-perfuming system, to the massage functions for the outboard rear chairs, the 2018 S-Class interior is everything you'd expect it to be and coddles you in comfort.
The interior however, is largely unchanged when compared to the outgoing model. What's new for 2018 is a new three-spoke steering wheel that boasts of touch-sensitive pads and metal control knobs for scrolling through infotainment menus. By swiping your finger on the touch-sensitive pads, one can control the infotainment system just like you would on a smartphone.
Aside from a new steering wheel, the 2018 S-Class gets new dual 12.3-inch digital displays — one for the instrument cluster and another for the infotainment system. These displays can be controlled via touch control, touchpad controller or voice command. This is bonded by a single glass panel, giving it a clean and cohesive look.
Other standout creature-comforts include:
- Ambience lighting in 64-colours that showcase the high-class interior like a work of art
- Air balance package with a choice of six high-quality interior fragrances
- Electrically adjustable rear seats reclinable up to 43.5 degrees
- Chauffeur package — where the front passenger seat can be moved forward
- Panoramic sliding sunroof
- Wireless charging for mobiles in the rear
- 13 high-performance Burmester speakers for those who believe in the magic of music
Overall, the interior has an inviting and irresistable vibe. And with the Mercedes-Benz Designo program, customers can choose from endless combinations of wood, leather and metal finishes for the interior.
Performance & Pricing
What's new in 2018 is a 282-horsepower, 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged inline-six diesel engine that replaces last year's 3.0-litre V6. The new diesel engine produces 600Nm of torque, making it possible to take this almost two-ton luxury saloon, from 0 to 100km/h in just six seconds. A fact worth mentioning is that the new Mercedes-Benz S 350d is the first car in India to meet the upcoming BS-VI norm. The S 450, on the other hand, runs on a 362-horsepower, 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged inline-six petrol engine.
2018 S-Class Specifications Overview
|Model||S 350d (Reviewed)||S 450|
|Engine||3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-six diesel||3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-six petrol |
|Acceleration 0-100km/h (s)||6||5.1|
|Top Speed (km/h)||250||250|
|Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs 1.33 crore||Rs 1.37 crore|
The inline-six cylinder diesel engine's smoothness during idling and uniform revving is worth some praise. In fact, most will find it hard pressed to tell it is a diesel variant. The turbochargers are well tuned; the inline-six cylinder diesel engine is eager and powerful and builds speed effortlessly thanks to the imperceptible turbo lag. The S-Class is not about ultimate pace; however, top speed claims are in excess of 220km/h. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is slick and reacts quickly to shifts and helps in the overall smooth progress of the drive.
As far as driving goes, the S-Class doesn't drive — it glides smoothly and graciously. The S-Class might not be as sharp as the BMW 7-series, but beyond any doubt offers better body control. The adaptive air suspension on all four wheels keeps the ride enjoyable over bumps and scruffy road surfaces. The engine refinement and NVH levels are so controlled that wind, road and all other murmurs from the world outside pass by like an insignificant blur.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) & Safety Features
As much fun as it is to coast along, the 2018 S-Class can drive like a human or better without human intervention for extended lengths. This is achievable thanks to the Level-2 autonomous system. The S-Class is classified as a Level-2 autonomous car, owing to the fact that it can steer, accelerate and brake in certain circumstances with help from the new radar-based Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) that uses cameras and sensors.
Even still, the S-Class's Level-2 autonomous car standing requires the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel every 15 seconds to verify that they are paying attention to the road. Currently, there are five-levels of automation for automakers, suppliers, and policymakers to classify a system's sophistication.
Level 0: No Automation
System capability: The driver steers, brakes, accelerates and navigates traffic
Example: Maruti Alto
Level 1: Driver Assistances
System capability: Controls either the steering or the vehicle speed, but not both simultaneously
Example: Adaptive cruise control
Level 2: Partial Automation
System capability: Steers, accelerates and brakes during certain circumstances with regular driver attention
Example: Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance Systems, Tesla Autopilot
Level 3: Conditional Automation
System capability: Manages most aspects of driving; the system prompts the driver to intervene when the car is unable to navigate or when the system is deactivated
Example: Audi Traffic Jam Pilot
Level 4: High Automation
System capability: Operates without human input, but under select conditions
Example: Google's not-in-use Firefly pod-car prototype (had neither pedals nor a steering wheel)
Level 5: Full Automation
System capability: Operates on any road and in any conditions; the driver will only be required to enter the destination
Example: Not in production yet
Wheeling back to the ADAS offered, the stand out feature is Mercedes's Distronic system. With Distronic active, the vehicle monitors and checks the distance of the car in front and adjusts the speed or even stops, when required.
Other notable driving and safety aids on the 2018 S-Class are: active brake assist, a system that helps the driver avoid a collision when inattentive; pre-safe plus, which helps protect the eardrums when a collision is imminent — from the loud noise that is anticipated from the impact; blind spot and lane-keep assist.
The grandiose top-of-the-range Benz will continue to define the luxury segment. Moreover, the 2018 S-Class ups the ante with comfortable ride, composed handling, great refinement, and technologically advanced safety aids. It might not be a driver-oriented luxury car, but the S-Class wasn't purpose built to seduce drivers, and continues to be the best backseat experience on offer on four wheels today.
Jobo Kuruvilla Thinks!
The S-Class remains a five-star vehicle, as it superbly does what it is purposed to do — stand testament to the grandiose flag flying tall and high. It is — The Standard, Then and Now — when it comes to luxury motoring.
Did You Know
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class (116 series) was the first production car in the world to feature an electronic four-wheel multi-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) from Bosch.