After its presentation to the world in Shanghai in April, Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG just invited us to test the new S-Class facelift in Zurich. Ever since its market launch in 2013, the engineers around Dr. Storp (Director of Development S-Class) have been trying to take the world’s best car one step further. Now, four years later, Mercedes finally gets to defend its title as the leader of the luxury segment. For our first test drive, we picked a beguiling S 63 Saloon with long-wheelbase and AMG’s fully variable 4Matic+ all-wheel drive (both standard for the S 63).
For its facelift, the exterior of the S-Class has been slightly overhauled which is most prominent in the change of head- and tail lights. As part of the facelift, the three torches of light, which are part of the optional MULTIBEAM LED headlights, help to incorporate the new design language on the exterior, making a clear demarcation to the top. This is ought to class the ranks of C-, E- and S-Class – for comparison, the E-Class features two of said torches while the C-Class features a single strip of light for its daytime running light. Additionally, ULTRA RANGE Highbeams which emit the maximum light intensity permitted by law, are introduced with the new LED front lights. Furthermore, all models are now fitted with the three twin louvres in the front grille – a design element that was previously exclusive to the variants with a V12 engine.
Apart from minor changes like the new steering wheel for all models, the interior looks all too familiar. Besides the adaption of the high-resolution widescreens from the E-Class and an overall renewal of all relevant control units in the cockpit, most changes were made in the menu structure. For example, the control for the widgets on the main cockpit-display has been simplified, now allowing the driver to simultaneously switch between contents. Another example is the ENERGIZING comfort control, which allows easy access to multiple comfort systems at once for immediate control. This way, the customer is less distracted when activating a massage, change the light or adjusting the intensity of the car perfume. One can choose from pre-computed comfort setups that combine, massages, lounging music and ambiance lighting animations in one click. Additionally, climate control and interior fragrancing are used to increase the customer’s well-being.
About our test vehicle
Model: Mercedes-AMG S 63 4Matic+
Exterior: designo allanite grey magno
Interior: AMG Exclusive nappa leather nut brown / black
Engine: V8 Biturbo producing 612 hp (450 kW) and 900 Nm
Handcrafted by Tobias Nogu in Affalterbach, Germany
New V8-BiTurbo for the S 63
Following in the footsteps of the E Saloon and Station Wagon, the new S-Class facelift now can be ordered with the M 177 ‘hot V’ 8-cylinder engine from Mercedes-AMG. In its second stage the 4-liter petrol engine, which had its debut in the C 63 and C 63 S, features a cylinder deactivation function which will help to improve the engine’s overall efficiency. In the partial-load range and when in ‘Comfort’ transmission-mode, the car will deactivate four cylinders making the V8 a V4 for engine speed between 1000 and 3250 rpm and in a vehicle speed range between 60 and 160 km/h. For any heavy-load scenarios, the twin-scroll turbocharger ensures tremendous power with a maximum output of up to 612 hp (available at 5500 – 6000 rpm) and 900 Nm of torque (at 2750 – 4500 rpm). Despite the reduction of engine capacity, the maximum output has been increased to that of the current model (comparison: 5.5 liter V8-Biturbo pre-facelift). Thanks to the flawless coupling of a V8 with two turbos on top, forming the ‘hot V’, AMG’s 4Matic+ all-wheel drive and the AMG 9-speed multi-clutch transmission, the new 4-liter V8 compensates this downsizing measurement excellently. By the way: Both 4Matic+ AWD and the 9-speed shift automatic transmission, like in the E-Class variant, are a standard in the S 63. Compared to the current model, the car accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 0.4 seconds less (3.5 seconds vs. 3.9 seconds for current S 63 4Matic). Thanks to the almost not existent turbo-lag, the vehicle has an extremely prompt response to the accelerator, which is why the car reaches its Vmax of 250 km/h (electronically limited; up to 300 km/h with AMG’s driver’s package) almost effortlessly.
Along with a broad variety of new engines, such as the new four liter V8s for the S 560, Maybach S 560 and S 63, as well as a ton of inline 6-cylinders options (S 350 d, S 400 d, S 450, and S 500), Mercedes introduced Dynamic Select to the S-Class family. Four driving modes are available in the new S 63 (5 for S 65), these include: ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, ‘Sport+’, and ‘Individual’ (& ‘Curve’ for S 65) plus an additional Manual Mode in which the transmission can be operated using the shift paddles on the steering wheel. Unlike the E 63 S 4Matic+, the S-Class does not feature the ‘Race’-mode. However, the race start function for optimum acceleration from a standstill is available in handling modes ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’.
Mercedes successfully managed to meet its goal and improve the world’s best car by taking the technological lead from its new E-Class family into the S-Class. But instead of keeping everything as is, MB decided to take it all a step further – so much for ‘never change a winning system’. The result is a vehicle that outmatches the E-Class in every discipline. The S 63 4Matic+ never failed to amaze us during our test drive, be it in ‘Sport+’ handling mode with the pairing of staggering performance and alluring crackles or while cruising in ‘Comfort’ mode where the engine could demonstrate its well-balanced character. After all, the first-class-like experience in the back is one of the main reasons why the S-Class can hold its benchmark position. Even when being chauffeured in ‘Sport+’ handling mode by a driver with a highly-elaborated gas foot, the rear seats will bring extreme comfort. In direct comparison to the E-Class, the S-Class really excelled thanks to the many small improvements such as the simplified menu navigation for the main screen, or the advancement in terms of partial autonomous driving. Furthermore, the new V8 did an outstanding job and if it wasn’t for the extremely soft head cushions in the car, you were very likely to get bruises at the back of your head from the engine’s extreme response to any firm footwork.
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Photos and text by Simon Laslo | @simonlaslo