Grunt and Green plays for S-Class

Thrift a well as thrust remain possible with the updated S-Class – a diesel is the cheapest choice and a plug-in hybrid is coming.


MUCH diminished interest in diesel sedans has not dissuaded Mercedes from determining that the entry version of its flagship S-Class should run in compression ignition rather than petrol form.

The German make has revealed that just three variants of the freshly facelifted uber-luxury sedan will be available when it comes into the showroom in December, though a plug-in hybrid will join the lineup in 2018.

Also, it concedes some other petrol and long wheelbase variants being sold in Australia, including the super-swank V12 Maybach that presumably would conceivably sit well above $400,000 here, could also be made available, albeit perhaps only as special order items.

As things stand, the brand announced in Melbourne last night that the immediately available Kiwi choice will restrict to the S350d, for $176,900, and two biturbo V8 petrols, the $219,900 S560 and the $324,900 S63.

The latter is in long-wheelbase format whereas the others are on the standard, but significantly sized, platform.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific manager of public relations and product communications Jerry Stamoulis says his brand acknowledges that diesel sedans are hard sells in New Zealand.

However, there is strong belief that the entry car’s new-generation oiler, a turbocharged six-cylinder generating 210kW and 600Nm, is smart enough to win attention.

“The reason why we have cut back the range is because we have seen what people have bought (in the pre-facelift line),” he said.

“It’s true that the diesel S-Class is a much stronger seller in Australia than in New Zealand – here it captures 60 percent of volume and that’s not the case in New Zealand.”

So why bother with it? Stamoulis disagreed the edition was purely being offered as a price leader though he did offer that “to start off with a S560 might be a little high.”

“But it is our new diesel, and I think once people drive it they will be very surprised by its performance and how quiet it is. So we will be trying to increase its volume.

“Diesel sedans are a hard sell. But we are talking about a very unique part of the market and the engine is fantastic, the technology is all there in the base car and it may open up some doors.”

The S350d certainly continues to promote diesel thrift positively, with Benz citing the new mill – the first in-line six Mercedes has put in the car for 15 years - having potential to eke an optimal economy of 5.4 litres per 100km.

The brand has yet to provide local market economy figures for the S560 and flagship, which both run a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 though in different states of tune.

The cheaper of the two has 345kW and 700Nm while the S63 outputs 450kW and 900Nm. That’s still second fiddle to the Maybach, whose biturbo V12 punches out 463kW and 1000Nm.

All S-Class engines run with a nine-speed automatic.

The plug-in hybrid edition is the 560e, which mates a 274kW 3.0-litre petrol V6 to an electric motor delivering an extra 90kW and 440Nm of torque.

These work in conjunction with the regular cars’ automatic. The electric motor is actually housed alongside the torque converter and clutch in a compact hybrid drive unit.

Benz announced in September that when the S560e is running solely on the electric motor, it has a range of approximately 50km thanks to the lithium-ion battery’s capacity of 13.5 kWh. Combined fuel consumption over the European cycle sits at 2.1-litres per 100km. 

To help ensure this economy the car uses ECO Assist, a tech that takes into account traffic situations and information to display driving recommendations and assist in smooth driving. The system is so advanced that it continuously generates coasting simulations in the background and is able to compute whether fuel can be saved if the vehicle is to coast freely.

Mercedes locally is unable to say exactly when it will come on sale here, but talks of mid-2018.

The latest E-Class was unveiled at Motorclassica, a big high-brow automania event, sponsored by Mercedes Benz, that centres on classic and rare metal.

The revisions meted the S-Class are light in respect to the exterior look– save for the addition of LED headlights – and even the interior looks much the same as before.

However, in addition to reworking the drivelines, the brand has also made improvements to the model’s semi-autonomous driving system – something Audi recently detailed with the reveal of its all-new fourth-generation A8 – and its terrain-predicting suspension system.

The Magic Body Control system – which scans the road for bumps and instructs the suspension to compensate – has been fine-tuned, as has its ability to drive itself. It can hold stationary in traffic on adaptive cruise mode for up to 30 seconds and move away of its own accord.

Standard ftures on all models include Comand Online with Widescreen Cockpit, multifunction steering wheel with Touch Control buttons, touchpad with controller, intelligent automatic climate control, Airmatic air suspension system with continuously variable damping system, dynamic select transmission mode selection, as well as the Smartphone Integration package with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and a wireless charging system for mobile devices.

Other standard features include multibeam LED headlamps, which quickly and precisely adjust to the current traffic conditions via 84 individually controllable LEDs, plus an ambient interior lighting scheme featuring 64 colours and 10 colour schemes.

Electronically adjustable rear seats, powered rear side window blinds, an air balance package which improves air filtering and fragrancing and a rear seat entertainment system are available.

The S350d includes keyless go driver authorisation system, a panoramic sliding sunroof, a digital TV tuner, power closing for doors and bootlid, a Burmester 13-speaker surround sound system, front seats including heating and cooling, a head-up display, a 360 dgree camera and 19-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels.

The S560 adds the ‘energizing’ comfort control feature plus the air-balance package, as well as brown burr walnut high gloss wood trim, nappa leather upholstery, an anti-theft protection package and heat- and noise-insulating laminated glass.

The S63’s bespoke AMG performance features include a sports exhaust system, dynamic select with AMG-specific driving programmes, high-performance composite brakes (390 x 36mm front, 360 x 26mm rear), speed-sensitive sports steering, sports suspension and red brake calipers.

Also included is Seat Heating Plus and multi- contour seats for front seat passengers, heated and ventilated rear seats, increased fuel tank capacity (80 litres), a tyre pressure monitoring system, and AMG-specific trim including door sill panels in brushed stainless steel, floor mats, Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather/dinimac microfibre, IWC-design analogue clock, AMG sports pedal cluster in brushed stainless steel and ‘designo’ open-pore black ash wood trim.