ALL-NEW electrified engines, sharper styling and an even bigger step towards autonomous driving: behold internet, it’s the facelifted Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Officially revealed at today’s Shanghai motor show, Wheels first saw this mid-life update in New York last week, and while that top-secret glimpse was short, it was enough to glean that as facelifts go, this one’s a doozy.
The biggest changes are found in the engine department, headlined by the introduction of a new 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine with electrified boost.
Dubbed M256, the new 3.0-litre donk is paired with an electric turbo, or “electric booster compressor” as Mercedes calls it, that’s designed to eliminate turbo lag. Paired with a complex 48-volt sub system, the electric turbo spins at low engine speeds to provide boost while the conventional exhaust-driven turbo is still coming up to pressure.
Power outputs are yet to be revealed, though expect a number north of 260kW, with Mercedes saying “the new engine delivers the performance of an eight-cylinder with significantly lower consumption.” Wheels understand AMG is already working on high-performance versions of the electrically assisted drivetrain, with outputs around 330kW.
Other changes to the overhauled S-Class engine line-up include new straight-six diesels in the S350d and S400d that promise to be quieter and use less fuel, plus the move to a detuned version of AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in a new S560 variant, replacing the old S500.
With 345kW/700Nm on tap, the S560’s 4.0-litre unit is mass produced on the Mercedes production line, not hand-built at Affalterbach like the V8 in the revised S63 AMG, which now boasts 450kW/900Nm.
Completing the overhauled engine range will be an improved plug-in hybrid system with 50km of electric range.
As expected, the facelifted S-Class will come armed with the latest version of Mercedes’ semi-autonomous driving systems – a move that will see it reclaim its spot as Benz’s technology flagship from the E-Class.
Known internally as “Generation 4.5”, the S-Class’s improved driver assists systems are now integrated into the car’s satellite navigation and will autonomously brake, accelerate and turn the steering wheel for upcoming curves and junctions. The system is also influenced by your driving mode, with the car braking later and harder if you’re in Sport or Sport+ than it does in Comfort.
The autonomous lane change system has also been tweaked and can now be operated by simply tapping the indicator stalk rather than holding it for three seconds as before.
How drivers interact with the semi-autonomous tech has also changed, with the old car’s steering column- mounted Distronic stalk replaced with buttons on the steering wheel.
Inside, the enormous digital dash has been revised and now places the two 12.3-inch displays under a single piece of shared glass. The latest version of Mercedes’ touch-pad controls, that debuted on the E-Class, also appear on the S-Class’s steering wheel and are now smaller.
A stronger focus on passenger well-being and health has seen the inclusion of a new ‘Energising Comfort’ system, which alters the car’s climate control, seat functions, lighting and music to suit the occupants’ mood. There are six 10 minute programs that can be selected, ranging from Freshness to Warmth and even Training, with the latter choosing fast-paced music and brighter interior lighting.
Exterior changes include a redesigned front bar and grille, plus tweaked headlights with three distinctive LED strips to give the S-Class a clear point of separation from other Mercedes sedans. Expect the E and C-Class to soon sport headlights with two and one LED strips respectively.
Out back the biggest change is a tweaked rear bumper with visible exhausts.
Expect the facelifted S-Class to arrive in Australia from December 2017.