MERCEDES-BENZ has massaged its flagship S-Class for the 2018 model year, slimming down the range by subtracting four variants and adding a brace of new and revised engines – with new model designations to suit.
And prices have been cut across the range – dramatically cut, in some cases, with five-figure reductions on retail stickers.
The result is a seven-strong S-Class family, starting with the $192,900 S350d and topping out with the $425,000 Mercedes-Maybach S650. At the bottom end the price of entry has dropped by a chunky $28,055, while the flagship Maybach is $23,036 more affordable than before.
Note that “affordable” is a relative term here.
In between those two variants reside the S400d L, S450 L, S560, S560 L and the Mercedes-AMG S63 L. Gone is the S 350d long-wheelbase, and the S400 and S500 have been rechristened the S450 and S560 respectively.
Meanwhile the short wheelbase Mercedes-AMG S63 has been turfed, with the longer-bodied S63 L being the only AMG model remaining in the S-Class stable. What about the big-daddy AMG S65? That one has also been cut from the range, with the Mercedes-Maybach S650 now the only way to get a V12 in an S-Class.
It’s not just the badges that have been reworked. There are big changes under the bonnet, with the 2018 S-Class being the first car to receive Mercedes-Benz’s new family of inline six-cylinder diesel engines.
The S350d replaces the outgoing car’s 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 with the new straight-six diesel, developing 210kW and 600Nm for a 20kW increase in power output. It takes power to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic, with Benz claiming a combined fuel economy figure of 5.4L/100km.
Standard features on the base-level S350d, which is now only available in short-wheelbase form, includes a 13-speaker Burmester stereo, heated and cooled front seats, a 360-degree camera display, 19-inch alloys, a digital TV tuner and power-closing doors and bootlid.
The S400d L is an exclusively long-wheelbase, high-output diesel option, offering 250kW and 700Nm from an uprated version of the S350d’s straight-six turbo diesel.
The S450 L takes the place of the S400 L, with its 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol offering a stout 270kW and 520Nm. Additional equipment over the S350d includes power-adjustable rear seats, rear climate control and electric blinds for the back windows – perfect for avoiding the gaze of passing peasants.
Not fancy enough? The $270,000 S560 and the $295,000 S560 L bring double-glazed glass, glossy wood trim, built-in rear-seat entertainment screens and something called “Energizing comfort control”.
This is a ten-minute program that marshals climate control, seat heating, ventilation and massage functions, ambient lighting, fragrances and ‘musical atmospheres’ in order to deliver six different wellness programmes: freshness, warmth, vitality, joy, comfort and training. It sounds awful but some recompense comes with the knowledge that the S560 models get a twin-turbo 4.0-litre petrol V8 as part of the package, spitting out 345kW and 700Nm.
That’s all the wellness we need.
That engine gets massaged to 450kW and 900Nm in the Mercedes-AMG S63 L, which packs other AMG-specific features like a louder set of exhaust pipes, composite brakes, a sportier steering rack, sports suspension and AMG-tuned settings for its various drive modes.
There’s also heated and ventilated rear seats, more deeply contoured front seats, a sports steering wheel with splashes of grippy microfibre, stainless steel pedals, open-pore black wood trim and an 80-litre fuel tank to give you more hydrocarbons to burn.
On the off chance that still doesn’t satisfy your taste for opulence and excess, the Mercedes-Maybach S650 is ready and waiting for you – provided you have the $425,000 necessary to park one on your manor’s driveway.
For your spend, the Maybach provides a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V12 with 463kW and a colossal 1000Nm. However the Maybach’s prodigious torque output mandates a seven-speed auto, rather than the nine-speeder used across the rest of the range.
There’s a 24-speaker Burmester stereo, microfibre-upholstered roof liner, high-end nappa leather upholstery, polished 20-inch alloys and plenty of Maybach badging to remind you that you’re in the top-tier Benz.
All 2018 S-Classes also get revised active steering assist and active cruise control software to provide more progressive intervention, while there’s even a feature that prepares your hearing for the anticipated accident noise when a collision is deemed imminent. Does your plebeian automobile do that? Didn’t think so.