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2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is Redesigned, Aims for Perfection

5/20/2013
In introducing the redesigned 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the automaker explains that development of the new flagship sedan revolved around three engineering priorities: Intelligent Drive; Efficient Technology; and the Essence of Luxury. Defining that last goal, Mercedes says the Essence of Luxury is "perfection to the last detail." The company further asserts, "The S-Class is not just a technological spearhead for Mercedes-Benz but for automotive development as a whole."

Apparently, Mercedes is unafraid to turn the luxury sedan volume up just as high as it can go. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, cranks it up even louder. "Rather than being about safety or aesthetics, power or efficiency, comfort or dynamism, our aspirations were 'the best or nothing' in every respect. No other car stands for the Mercedes-Benz brand promise more than the S-Class," said Zetsche.

The 2014 Mercedes S-Class is expected first as the S550 model, equipped with a direct-injection, twin-turbocharged, 4.7-liter V-8 engine generating 455 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. A 7-speed automatic transmission with automatic start/stop technology will deliver the power to the rear wheels, and a 4Matic all-wheel-drive (AWD) system will be optional. According to Mercedes, the S550 will accelerate to 60 mph in less than 4.8 seconds.

Constructed upon a hybrid aluminum body shell and formed with aluminum outer body panels, the new 2014 S-Class is offered in regular- and long-wheelbase variants. Unlike in the past, Mercedes developed the longer model first. Both versions feature what the automaker characterizes as a larger, more upright radiator grille; long hood sweeping toward a flowing, domed roof; and a gently slanted rear end "in keeping with the car's sporty, coupe-style intentions," the company explains. Mercedes also calls the new S-Class model's rear window detailing "coupe-like."

About the new flagship sedan, design chief Gorden Wagener said, "The sophisticated design of the S-Class has always been an expression of luxury and automotive grandeur of its era, and our new S-Class continues this tradition. A modern embodiment of sensual clarity, the design draws a line from the sophisticated, progressive design idiom to the classic elegance of our 1930s cars--intelligence that speaks to the emotions. Stylish sportiness and sensual forms in synthesis with timeless clarity and effortless superiority make the S-Class a true design icon."

Inside, the new S-Class is characterized by "fluid, sensually elegant style" and delivers "ride comfort, spaciousness, and user friendliness to the very highest standard," Mercedes says. Wood trim, metallized switchgear, aluminum controls, and pearl-effect paint finish contribute to the car's premium ambience. A Special Order program allows for further personalization, and the S-Class features full LED lighting, including a headliner that glows at night.

Two 12.3-inch Thin Film Transistor display screens dominate the upper portion of the S-Class model's dashboard. The left display screen is for instrumentation, and the right display screen is for the "navitainment" systems, as Mercedes refers to it. A rotary COMAND knob with push-button control and direct-access buttons allows the driver to navigate the navitainment system. An Enhanced Voice Control System is standard, and SMS text messaging is optional.

Mercedes has redesigned the climate control system, and the new S-Class is offered with rapid seat and steering wheel heating systems as well as heated armrests. The optional AirBalance package includes 4-zone climate control, improved air filtration, an air ionization system, and a perfume air atomizer that Mercedes refers to as "a fragrance diffusion system." The perfume air atomization system is controlled by the driver, is temporary, and does not deposit a scent on occupants' clothes, according to Mercedes.

Reflecting the reality that in some major S-Class markets the car's owner is a passenger more often than a driver, Mercedes offers four rear seating packages through the S-Class Special Order program. An Executive seat offers 43.5 degrees of recline and calf support, and a First Class Rear seating package with individual rear seats includes a business center console with heated and cooled cupholders, foldout tables, and additional storage. A new "Driveshow" information display with Google Maps is similar to what is frequently shown on transoceanic flights, and an energizing massage program based on the hot-stone principle is optional for both the front and rear seats.

Mercedes also provides multi-user access to the S-Class model's multi-media features with independent access from any seating location. A premium audio system with standard FrontBass speaker technology is standard equipment, and buyers can select from two optional Burmeister audio systems.

Ride quality is enhanced with a standard Adaptive Damping System Plus system with an Airmatic suspension, and the new S-Class can be equipped with an optional Road Surface Scan system that can detect large bumps in the road ahead, combined with new Magic Body Control that dials in the proper suspension tuning that can best deal with the impending pavement imperfection.

The redesigned 2014 S-Class is also loaded with new safety features and upgrades to existing technologies. The standard Attention Assist drowsy-driver detection system gains a new sensitivity setting, new stereo cameras and multi-stage sensors provide 360-degree "vision" to facilitate autonomous driving features, and new Pre-Safe technologies debut.

Pre-Safe Brake is an autonomous braking system designed to prevent collisions with other vehicles and with pedestrians at speeds up to 31 mph, while Pre-Safe Plus detects when another vehicle may collide with the S-Class and produces a visual warning in the form of rapidly flashing hazard lights. If it appears that a collision is imminent, Pre-Safe Plus automatically applies the car's brakes to reduce whiplash upon impact and to reduce potential for secondary collisions, while simultaneously activating the car's reversible seat belt pre-tensioners.

Mercedes has upgraded the 2014 S-Class model's seat belt systems with new technologies. Pre-Safe Impulse uses the seat belts to pull occupants away from the direction of the impact in order to reduce the risk and severity of injuries associated with frontal-impact collisions. An optional RearSeat package includes an illuminated seat belt buckle extender designed to remove slack in the belt, a "beltbag" inflatable rear seat belt that reduces strain on an occupant's ribcage in a collision, and a "cushionbag" in models with reclining rear seats to ensure that a resting passenger doesn't slide under the seat belt in a collision.

Additionally, the new S-Class is offered with a Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop & Go Plus system, which provides autonomous lane guidance and the ability to automatically follow vehicles in traffic. Active Lane Keeping Assist identifies when traffic occupies adjacent lanes and when oncoming traffic is approaching, and autonomously applies the brakes on just one side of the vehicle to ensure that the S-Class doesn't leave its lane. A Brake Assist System Plus with Cross Traffic Assist automatically boosts braking power if it detects traffic or pedestrians in the car's path. Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus allows permanent use of the high-beam headlights, while the Nightview Assist Plus system gains a new thermal-imaging camera, higher-resolution display, and a Spotlight function designed to illuminate pedestrians and to warn them that a car is approaching.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 is expected to arrive at dealerships in September of 2013, with the S550 4Matic model arriving in November.

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