The external clues may be subtle, but the revised Mercedes-Benz S-Class has undergone a massive transformation under the skin.
Headline news is a range of new engines, starting with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, which produces 345kW/700Nm as 345kW/700Nm as an S560 and a whopping 450kW/900Nm in S63 AMG guise.
For the fuel economy conscious, the only initial offerings will be a pair of diesels, the 210kW/600Nm S350d and 250kW/700Nm S400d, however these will soon be joined by Mercedes-Benz’s cutting-edge inline six-cylinder petrol engines.
Dubbed the R-6, a six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine works in conjunction with a 48-volt electrical system to use an electric compressor and integrated starter alternator to either boost power or recover energy to save fuel.
Mercedes is remaining quiet on technical details for the moment, however promises two different output levels and claims its new high-tech six-pot will offer the power of a V8 but with vastly better fuel economy.
The already serene ride quality is claimed to be improved further thanks to the revised Magic Body Control system, which scans the road ahead using a stereo camera to prepare the suspension for upcoming bumps.
Inside, the new S-Class’s dash is dominated by twin 12.3-inch, fully configurable, high definition display screens. All infotainment system functions can now be controlled via touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel, which can be swiped smartphone-style. Speaking of smartphones, the new S-Class also supports wireless inductive charging.
One of the more unusual new features is Energizing comfort control, which optimises the climate control, seats, wall heating, lighting and music systems under six 10-minute programs, intended to match the driver’s mood.
Such toys are guaranteed to keep the driver entertained, as less of their focus than ever needs to be directed to the road thanks to the S-Class’s assistance systems, which allow the car the operate more or less autonomously for extended periods.
The collective systems are dubbed Intelligent Drive, including Active Proximity Assist, which can use the navigation system as well as radar and cameras to control the vehicle’s speed based on its route and surroundings; Active Steer Assist to aid lane-keeping; Active Lane-Change Assist, allowing automatic lane changing with a tap of the indicator stalk, and the ability to operate autonomously in traffic jams, even when stationary for up to 30 seconds.
Another neat trick is Remote Parking Assist, which allows the driver to park the car in tight spaces – parallel or end-on in either the forward or reverse direction – using a smartphone.
Visual changes are few, consisting of new LED taillights and lower bumper section at the rear, and a new grille and ‘triple light torches’ motif in the headlights. Optional Multibeam lights are adaptive and now have an Ultra Range feature, producing the highest intensity light permitted by law.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class range will arrive on Australian shores in December 2017.