Mercedes Benz S Class










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The Mercedes Benz S-Class

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a series of luxury sedans produced by German automaker Mercedes-Benz, a division of German company Daimler AG. The S-Class has debuted many of the company’s latest innovations, including drivetrain technologies, interior features, and safety systems.


“S-Class” is the anglicized version of “S-Klasse,” a German abbreviation of “Sonderklasse,” which means “special class” (in the sense of “a class of its own”). In automotive terms it refers to ״a specially outfitted car״.




Years Old


Units Sold

First Generation (W116)

The First S-Class (1972-1980)

In 1972, Mercedes-Benz introduced the W116 line, the first to be officially called the S-Class.[3] Produced from 1972 through 1980, the W116 series featured a four-wheel independent suspension and disc brakes. The 280, 350, and 450 (4.5L version) models featured SE and SEL versions. Production of the W116 totaled 473,035 units. This was a groundbreaking sedan for Mercedes-Benz, and for the first time in the company history, the car had an obvious, blatant and outward emphasis on safety placed above a pure styling viewpoint. The overall design incorporated numerous safety features developed from the “safety research vehicles” in the mid-to-late 1960s to the very early 1970s. Read More…

The ‘new’ S-class generation development began in 1966, which was only a year after the launch of the W108/09. This was the first Mercedes saloon to feature the brand new corporate styling theme which was to be continued until 1993 when the 190 was discontinued. The design, finalized in 1969 (frozen in 1970) was a dramatic leap forward, with more masculine lines that combined to create an elegant and sporty character. The basic design concept was actually inspired from the R107 SL-Class roadster, especially the front and rear lights.

Chassis code Model Years Model Engine No. built[3]
W116.020 1973–1980 280 S sedan 2.8 L M110 I6 122,848
W116.024 1973–1980 280 SE sedan 2.8 L M110 I6 150,593
W116.025 1974–1980 280 SEL sedan 2.8 L M110 I6 7,032
W116.028 1973–1980 350 SE sedan 3.5 L M116 V8 51,100
W116.029 1973–1980 350 SEL sedan 3.5 L M116 V8 4,266
W116.032 1973–1980 450 SE sedan 4.5 L M117 V8 41,604
W116.033 1973–1980 450 SEL sedan 4.5 L M117 V8 59,578
W116.036 1975–1980 450 SEL 6.9 6.9 L M100 V8 7,380
W116.120 1978–1980 300 SD sedan 3.0 L OM617 I5 turbodiesel
(USA and Canada only)

  • Four wheel anti-lock brakes were first featured on the W116 S-Class. This system prevents the wheels from locking while braking. The system improves steering control during hard braking situations, and to shorten brake distances.
  • Strengthened body structure. The W116 featured a more stable security passenger cell with a stiffened roof frame structure. High strength roof and door pillars, along with other reinforced zones, provided enhanced vehicle occupant protection.
  • A padded dashboard, deformable switches and controls, and a four-spoke steering wheel with impact absorber and broad impact cushion aimed to reduce occupant injury during collisions.
  • The fuel tank was no longer fitted at the rear end, but was now placed above the rear axle for added protection.
  • Wraparound turn signals made it easier to communicate with nearby drivers.

Second Generation (W126)

The Stylish S-Class (1979-1991)

The W126 series premiered in late 1979 as an 1980 model, and in March 1980 as an 1981 model in the USA and Australia replacing the W116 line. The W126 line featured improved aerodynamics and enlarged aluminum engine blocks. In 1981, the W126 S-Class won the Wheels magazine (Australia) Car of the Year award. The W126 was manufactured from 1979 through 1991 with a mid-cycle update. Coupé models based on the S-Class were reintroduced with the W126 (380/500 SEC). Total sales of the W126 S-Class sedans reached 818,036 units, with an additional 74,060 coupes sold. Read More…

Following the debut of the 1970s generation W116 (which also included the flagship Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9), Mercedes-Benz began plans for the next-generation S-Class model in October 1973. Codenamed “project W126,” the project had specific goals: an improved ride, better handling, and improved fuel efficiency. These improvements were aimed at helping retain the S-Class’ market leadership as the world’s best-selling prestige luxury sedan. Following the 1970s oil crisis, Mercedes-Benz had made fuel efficiency an especially pertinent goal (named “Energy Program”), even in the large V8 engined versions of the S-Class.
From 1973 to 1975, Mercedes-Benz designers worked on the successor to the W116. In December 1975, after several design concepts being presented, the design for the W126 S-Class was approved and frozen in 1976. Design work on the coupe began immediately afterward, being finalized in 1977. It premiered the next generation of Mercedes-Benz car styling, which came to dominate the lineup in the 1980s. Compared to its predecessor, the W116, the new model had more aerodynamic qualities than before, with a (drag coefficient of Cd 0.36 for the sedans, 0.34 for the coupés). For the first time, a Mercedes-Benz sedan was not equipped with traditional chrome bumpers; polyurethane deformable bumpers were used, and visually aligned with body panels. Design patents were first filed on March 3, 1977 and later on September 6, 1977 at the United States Patent Office.
Novel luxury features/options included the following safety, comfort, and technological features. Whilst almost all of these features are available on modern luxury cars today, each in its own right was considered very significant in the 1980s. The harmonious and “matter-of-fact” way which these were combined, as well as their renowned durability, has added to the appeal of W126.
The W126 S-Class was a champion in the luxury car market, dominating worldwide sales during its production run. At the same time, it also achieved several awards during its production period. The W126 model 380 SE was the Wheels Magazine Car of the Year in 1981, the W126 was awarded the U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute “Safest Passenger Car of the Year” in 1988 and 1989, and the W126 was the third-ranked luxury vehicle in J.D. Power’s 1990 Initial Quality Survey (IQS). In 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990, with the W126 S-Class leading its sales, Mercedes-Benz received the highest customer ratings in the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index.

Third Generation (W140)

The Hi-Tec S-Class (1991-1998)

In 1991, the W140 series replaced the W126 line with the first production model assembled on August 6 of that year.[citation needed] The W140 grew in proportions and featured two wheelbase lengths and a shorter-wheelbase W140 coupé. Production totalled 432,732 units.
The W140 cost 25% more than the W126 it replaced and featured double-pane window glazing, self-closing boot lid and doors, electric windows with a jam-protection feature (lowering when encountering an obstruction), rear-parking markers in the US (which appeared on the rear wings when in reverse), and a heating system which emitted warm air while residual energy was available after the engine was turned off. Read More…

As with its predecessor, the W140 was the first of the “next generation” of Mercedes-Benz models to feature the company’s new design theme.Development on the W140 began in 1981, originally set for an October 1989 production start. The 4 door saloon (sedan) type body was styled by Bruno Sacco . From 1982 to 1986 several designs were reviewed, until December 9, 1986 when a definitive design by Olivier Boulay was approved.The W140 introduced innovations such as double-pane window glazing, power-assisted closing for doors and boot lid, electric windows which lowered back down upon encountering an obstruction, rear-parking markers which rose from the rear wings (discontinued on later vehicles, and replaced with sonar-assisted parking) and a heating system which, if desired, continued to emit warm air after the engine was turned off.
The W140 S-Class introduced several safety innovations which have since become commonplace among many vehicles.
  • Braking system. The V8 and V12 W140 models distributed more braking power to the rear wheels, increasing stopping effectiveness. In 1996, the W140 received Brake Assist, which engaged during emergency maneuvers to boost braking power to maximum.
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP) was introduced in 1996. ESP used on-board computers to improve vehicle handling response during difficult driving conditions. This was a Mercedes developed system, which has since been licensed to other manufacturers.
  • Side airbags (pioneered by Volvo in 1994) and seat occupancy sensors were introduced in 1996.

The flagship model of the W140 lineup, the S600 (600SEL until 1993) LWB saloon set new standards of performance, the likes of which had never been achieved with such a heavy robust car up to that time. The 6.0 V12 engine was capable of accelerating the 2 tonne, 18 foot saloon to 100 km/h in as little as 5.5 seconds and with a top speed of 179 mph with the limiter removed.

Fourth Generation (W220)

New Millennium S-Class (1999-2005)

Development for the W220 S-Class started in 1992, with the final design, helmed by Steve Mattin being approved in 1994 and frozen for production in the first half of 1995. The completed prototypes were presented in June 1998. The W220 started production in 1999. The W220 was a replacement for the earlier W140 S-Class after the 1999 model year. Compared to its predecessor, the W220 had somewhat smaller exterior dimensions but offered more interior space, particularly in the long-wheelbase versions. Production of the W220 totalled 485,000 units, slightly more than the production totals from the W140. Read More…

Unlike previous iterations of the S-Class, the W220 was not the company’s first model to feature the company’s new design theme for the next generation of Mercedes-Benz. This honor was given to the A-Class launched in 1997. Steve Mattin’s design was first sketch drawn in late 1992 and developed into 1:1 scale by late 1994. The series production design was frozen 38 months before production in 1995. Nevertheless, being Mercedes flagship vehicle worldwide (while the A-Class was never sold in North America), the S-Class largely popularized the new theme.
As with each new S-Class, the W220 was technologically advanced at the time of its launch, bringing in new innovations such as Airmatic air suspension, Active Ventilated Seats (which used miniature fans in the seats to move air through perforations), keyless entry and ignition, radar-controlled Distronic distance-aware cruise control, and a cylinder deactivation system called Active Cylinder Control for the S500 and S600 models, which improves fuel consumption and reduces emissions. All were pioneering innovations at the time of the W220’s conception.
In 2005, the S-Class was the first vehicle to receive a TÜV Institute environmental certificate from the German Commission on Technical Compliance for environmentally friendly components. The improved environmental efficiency of the W220 manufacture process was judged approvingly.
  • Pre-Safe, the integrated Mercedes-Benz collision avoidance and response system, debuted with the W220 S-Class.
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Brake Assist were standard features for difficult driving conditions and emergency maneuvers.
  • The W220 S-Class added standard front and rear side curtain airbags. In total, the W220 features 8 airbags: 2 frontal (driver and passenger), 4 side airbags (one in each door) and 2 window bags.
  • LED brake lights were also standard issue on the W220. LED brake lights illuminate faster than conventional bulbs.

Fifth Generation (W221)

The Future S-Class (2005-2013)

The Mercedes-Benz W221 is a chassis code of S-Class, the successor of the Mercedes-Benz W220 and the predecessor of the Mercedes-Benz W222. The S-Class are the flagship vehicles of Mercedes-Benz and each generation typically introduces a range of technical innovations and developments that over time will find their way into smaller cars. Read More…

The W221 S-Class’ exterior styling is distinctly different from the W220. The W220 somewhat broke with tradition in being smaller than its W140 predecessor, whereas the W221 is once more larger in all dimensions than its predecessor, offers more interior space and has improved performance. The W221 looks are often said to be more imposing than those of the W220. The rear styling is similar to the Mercedes-Benz Maybach – the larger saloon from Daimler AG’s other flagship brand, which was presented to the public in 1997. Development began in 1999, with the design work beginning in 2000 at the Advanced Design Center in Tokyo, and the final design by Gorden Wagener at the Sindelfingen Advanced Design Center being approved in 2001, frozen for production in early 2002 and patented in Germany on December 4, 2003. A final design prototype W221 was presented in December 2002 to Autospies journalists at a consumer design clinic, 2.5 years prior to the official production model unveiling in June 2005.
Like for all other S-Class generations, the W221 introduced a raft of improved and new features and systems. The standard COMAND now also controlled more of these features and/or provided access to additional settings for various functions, including the HVAC system and seat controls. Read More…
As part of the W221 launch campaign, Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH introduced a series of 17 products under S-Class Collection, beginning in 2005-09. Products include wrist watch designed with Sindelfingen-based Design Centre, piqué polo shirt, cufflinks, pen, umbrella, key fob, mouse pads, pen cases, cigar set, note pad, wallet, 1/43 S-Class scale model car. Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH also introduced a series of 1,200 units of S-Class vehicle freight train.
In the 2007 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, the W221 tied for first ranking in its category (with the Audi A8) for having the fewest quality problems in the industry after 90 days of ownership. The W221 was given the Bild am Sonntag 2006 Golden Steering Wheel Award in the Luxury category, Drive Car of the Year Awards Best Luxury Car over A$60,000, and top luxury auto in the Topauto 2006 awards. Safety awards include Popular Mechanics’ 2007 Automotive Excellence Award for Safety, 2007’s What Car? Safety Award, and 2006 British Insurance Car Security Award. Design awards include Wheels Magazine’s 2006 Automotive Design Award, Automotive Circle International (ACI) “EuroCarBody Award 2005″, Topauto 2006 award winner in the Innovation category for the Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, and 2006 Automotive Interior of the Year Awards for Best Seat.

Sixth Generation (W222)

Mercedes Benz S-Class (2013-Present)


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