New Mercedes S-Class sells like hotcakes at half a million apiece

Lionel Kong

The new S-Class is super techy and luxurious, and it’s here: S 450L 4Matic costs S$502,888 with COE in Singapore and there’s already a queue

SINGAPORE — Mercedes-Benz Singapore is officially putting the new S-Class on sale here tomorrow, after giving a loyal group of repeat customers sneak previews that resulted in healthy sales.

CarBuyer understands that booking the new Mercedes flagship now — which costs S$502,888 with Certificate Of Entitlement in S 450L form — means waiting until September to take delivery, around five months after early bird buyers get their hands on theirs. “Every customer wants their car yesterday,” a spokesperson told CarBuyer at a press preview of the car on March 30, 2021.

It’s not hard to see why. The S-Class is the top-selling large premium car around the world, and embodies what Mercedes is best at.

Claudius Steinhoff – president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Singapore

“We always try to push the envelope to exceed our customers expectations again and again, and this holds especially true for the S-Class,” Claudius Steinhoff, the president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Singapore told the press. “I mean, this is our centre of our brand promise and this car is extremely important for us, and when we start developing the S-Class, we always have the ambition to develop the best car in the world.”

The new one, codenamed V223 for the long-wheelbase version (W223 for the regular version, which isn’t officially sold here) that Singapore is getting, aims to continue a tradition of pampering occupants and bringing new features to the car market, while going big on digital technology. For the primer on the new S-Class, read our coverage on its international debut.

AMG Line version costs S$27,000 more and adds the usual sporty bits

The car will also be offered with a plug-in hybrid variant, as well as a V8-powered S 580L model. For now, customers who want something different can opt for the AMG Line variant above, which adds the usual AMG body styling kit, 19-inch AMG wheels, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and other touches.

AMG Line interior

Standard S-Class interior

A large new 12.8-inch central OLED screen is the centrepiece of the interior, and is key to the way occupants interact with the car. Mercedes deleted 27 physical buttons to leave the dashboard uncluttered, and says the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system is much better at interpreting spoken commands and pinpointing which passenger is speaking.

It understands 27 languages, has 50 percent more processing power than the previous system, along with 16GB of RAM and a 320GB solid state drive. An optional camera system can track the drivers’ head, which enables anticipatory functions — if the driver puts the car in reverse gear and turns his head back to look, the S-Class automatically lowers the rear sunshade, for example. The cameras cost an extra S$4,700 and enable a 3D instrument display system that works without cumbersome 3D glasses.

250 LEDs provide seamless ambient lighting

Mercedes is relying heavily on ambient lighting to create an interactive environment inside the car. The cabin has around 250 LEDs, which change colour to alter the atmosphere of the space and more. Activating the MBUX voice control reflects your voice’s waveform in the lights according to the individual seat and speaker, for example. Or if your stationary S 450L detects a cyclist coming up from behind, its LEDs can flash red to warn occupants against opening the door into the rider’s face.

While there are more traditional expressions of luxury and craftsmanship — the tool used to  perforate the leather upholstery has 16,000 needles, for example — the engineers have been hard at work to improve comfort, as well.

The optional massage chairs (yours for S$13,500 up front and S$8,100 at the back) have 10 different programmes that either soothe or energise occupants. One novel feature is something Mercedes calls a “4D” sound system, made in conjunction with Burmester. The S$25,900 option puts exciters in the seat cushions that thump and vibrate along with the music’s bass so that passengers literally feel the beat.

The car’s chassis tech is just as fascinating. The standard car has air suspension and active dampers, but there’s a new, optional suspension system dubbed E-Active Body Control. It’s an improvement over the previous Active Body Control, and analyses driving conditions 1,000 times a second and adjusts itself accordingly.

If that suspension is fitted, the S-Class can raise itself in a hurry by eight centimeters if it detects an oncoming side impact. That puts the sills in harm’s way, because those are much stronger than the doors. The active suspension can also lean the car slightly into bends like a motorcycle, not for faster cornering speeds but for occupant comfort. The E-Active Body Control system has no price yet, as it will be available only in the second half of the year.

Another option worth pondering is the rear wheel steering system (S$6,200) that cuts two-metres off the car’s turning circle, making it not much more cumbersome in a U-turn than the much smaller A-Class.

But if there’s one tech area that Mercedes seems to pride itself on with every new S-Class, it’s safety. The W126 model (from 1979) popularised airbags (although American brand Oldsmobile was first to market with it), and the V223 is ushering in rear frontal airbags. These are standard for the two outer rear passengers (Nissan put one in the rear of its flagship President in 1995) and are compatible with child seats. “You can feel there are tons of safety features in the S-Class,” Mr Steinhoff, who has been spending time behind the wheel of a red S 450L, said.

The new S-Class also has digital headlamps that throw a 650m beam (the furthest permitted by the European Union) from 2.6 million pixels that are apparently ultra-precise in where they direct light.

Behind those lights is the 3.0-litre, turbo straight-six engine that made its debut in the CLS 450, a car that Mr Steinhoff worked on in a previous role. It has a 22 horsepower starter-generator that gives the engine brief boosts. Our experience with the engine is that it sounds terrific and revs smoothly, and even with so much S-Class to move around it performs strongly: the S 450L accelerates to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds.

S-Class AMG Line

The 367-horsepower engine has a peak torque output of 500 Newton-metres at 1,600rpm and drives all four wheels (hence the “4Matic” tag) through a nine-speed automatic. It’s surprisingly frugal; official tests rate the S 450L’s petrol consumption at 8.5L/100km, though its CO2 output earns it a VES C2 banding that adds S$20,000 to the price tag, rising to S$25,000 as of July 1st.

If an S 450L isn’t fast enough for you, Mercedes-Benz Singapore is importing the S 580L later this year. That has a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 with 503hp and 700Nm. It should crack the sprint to 100km/h in well under five seconds. And if that’s not enough Mercedes for you, there will also be the Mercedes-Maybach super-luxury take on the S-Class to follow.

Maybach-Mercedes S 580

But for a curveball, there’s the S 580e, a plug-in hybrid version. It takes the 3.0-litre six (with 367hp, remember) and adds a 150hp electric motor, for a total output of 517hp. More to the point, it can apparently travel up to 100km on electric power alone, thanks to a 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

Mercedes is unveiling a full electric companion to the S-Class called the EQS on April 15, but like other plug-in hybrids, the S 580e is aimed at people who want a bridge to the electric future, given that petrol is still far more widely available than charging.

There’s another reason to consider the plug-in S-Class in Singapore: to outshine the early birds who are getting their S 450L 4Matics soon.


About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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