New Mercedes S-Class: prices, specs and release date

Mercedes’ flagship luxury saloon starts at £72,705, with 621bhp AMG S65 topping the range at £187,240

Prices have been released for the facelifted 2018 Mercedes S-Class. The range starts at £72,705, with the 282bhp S350d marking the entry point into S-Class ownership.

Mercedes has played it safe with the S-Class’ aesthetics and instead concentrated on fitting new engines and fresh technology under its metalwork.

The best example of this trend is the new S500. While the pre-facelift S500 has an old-school 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine, the facelifted model has a new six-cylinder 3.0-litre; this is supplemented by a mild hybrid system and 48-volt electronics, bringing total power to 429bhp.

That’s about 20bhp down on the old S500, but the new S500 is only two tenths slower from 0-62mph. Economy improves by 8mpg and drastically reduced C02 emissions ensure its Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rate falls from top-rate 37% to a more palatable 30%.

The new S-Class also gets Mercedes’ latest autonomous features, as well a ‘curve’ system. This first appeared on the plush SL grand tourer and reduces the cornering forces inflicted on passengers by adjusting the car’s suspension to minimise body lean.

We've driven the new Mercedes S-Class – read our review here

Mercedes S-Class 2018 facelift design

You’ve got to really know your Mercs to spot the facelifted S-Class’ visual enhancements – but they’re there. A fresh radiator grille and front bumper design, a new steering wheel with swipe-sensitive buttons and updated rear lights, as well as redesigned LED headlights are among the enhancements.

The S-Class is available in standard and long-wheelbase formats, the latter of which is stretched by roughly 13cm, offers 10cm more legroom and costs a little under £3,000 extra. The S350d comes in either standard or long form, while the S500 and the two performance-orientated AMG models are long-wheelbase only.

Engines

The S-Class range starts with the S350d, which features a new 282bhp in-line six-cylinder diesel engine. Next up is the new S500 and its mild hybrid setup represents another significant change to the S-Class line-up. Some may bemoan the end of the association between the S500 name and large V8 engines, but this is a sign of the environmentally conscious times we live in. Besides, the significantly lower tax obligations associated with the new S500 should make it a far more popular proposition than before.

Topping the S-Class range is a pair of powerful Mercedes-AMG models and the Mercedes-Maybach S650.

The Mercedes-AMG S63 has a 604bhp 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo engine, while the Mercedes-AMG S65 boasts a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12, with 621bhp on tap. Both take just 4.3 seconds to go from 0-62mph, while if you specify the AMG Driver’s Package, Mercedes will set the speed limiter to 186mph and throw in a driver training session for good measure.

If you’d like to combine ultimate performance with immeasurable opulence, the Mercedes-Maybach S650 has the same 621bhp V12 6.0-litre engine as the S65, but features higher-quality materials. It also has a redesigned rear passenger compartment, which sees the back doors’ small triangular windows relocated to the car’s rearmost pillar, for that pure limousine feeling.

Although it’s not available initially, an S400d will join the range in due course. This will feature an upgraded version of the S350d’s engine and, with 355bhp, it’ll be the most powerful diesel car Mercedes has ever made. Also due later is the S560e plug-in hybrid, which is said to have a 30-mile battery-only range.

Trim levels and luxury features

Mercedes isn’t offering the S-Class in anything so common as trim levels. The S63 and S65 have their own unique specifications, while all other models get AMG Line as standard. If you detect any gaps in the S-Class’ standard equipment, one of the Executive, Premium or Premium Plus ‘equipment packages’ should plug it.

As standard, the new S-Class comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and go, LED headlights, ambient lighting, electric memory leather seats, wireless phone charging, all-round parking sensors and a reversing camera.

Add the £4,000 Premium Package for a 360-degree camera system, soft-close doors, ventilated front seats and upgraded Nappa leather.

The £6,700 Premium Plus Package, meanwhile, sees a Burmester stereo, massaging front seats, a built-in air freshener and Mercedes Energizing Comfort system added. This last item unites the climate control, lighting, seating and music systems under one umbrella programme, allowing owners to select from Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and Training modes.

The Mercedes-AMG S63’s specification includes 20-inch alloys, a beefed-up bodykit, sports tuning for the gearbox, Nappa leather sports seats, an AMG steering wheel, an IWC analogue clock, the Burmester stereo and a plethora of AMG logos.

Choose the S65 and you can add the Executive Equipment Line (see next section), further upgrades to the seats, a head-up display and the 360-degree camera system.

Want more? The S-Class name derives from sonderklasse, or ‘special class’ – so it’s reasonable to assume owners are in for a treat if they head to the options list.

Step into the back of a long-wheelbase (LWB) S-Class and – assuming you’ve ordered the £4,000 Executive Equipment line – the seats will have adjustable backrests and be ventilated, heated and cooled, offering power-adjustment and memory settings along with luxury headrests that have what Mercedes calls an “additional comfort cushion”. You’ll get power-operated roller blinds for the rear windscreen and windows, too. Other add-ons include heated armrests, a night-vision system, a TV tuner and more wood, leather and metal trim options than you may know what to do with.

Autonomous systems

In the company of such expensive options, the £1,700 Driving Assistance Plus Package seems relatively good value, as it bundles a number of sophisticated systems together. These include active cruise control, which matches your speed to that of the car in front at speeds of up to 131mph; it’ll brake for you, too, with up to 50% of full braking power.

Also featured is Active Steering Assist, which will keep you in your designated lane automatically, while the Evasive Steering Assist will help you steer around potential collision points. Active Speed Limit Assist will match the car’s speed to the limit, while the Active Blind Spot Assist will brake the wheels on one side of the S-Class to help you avoid a collision when changing lanes.

The most advanced autonomous system is Active Lane Change Assist. When activated, this will switch lanes for you when you nudge the indicator stalk, providing the facelifted S-Class with a similar level of autonomy to the Tesla Model S and Model X.

Price and on-sale date

The facelifted 2018 Mercedes S-Class is available to order now, with first deliveries expected around October. The range starts with the 350d, which is available from £72,705, rising to £75,505 if you choose the long-wheelbase version. The S500 is £84,660, while the Mercedes-AMG S63 starts at £125,690, and the S65 is £187,240.

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