Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its new restyled S-Class with the first versions expected to arrive here late this year in time for 2010 registrations.
A number of design and technical changes have been introduced. These include a more pronounced arrow-shaped radiator grille, a more discreetly contoured front bumper, new tail light design, and the introduction of a chrome strip below the front air intakes.
Intended to copperfasten its position as the world's most successful luxury saloon, of which some 3.3 million have been sold since it was first introduced in 1951, the improvements made include an LED light package with daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights as standard. Light is also used as an interior styling element with a choice of three lighting moods.
Powered by a choice of two diesel and six petrol engines of six, eight, and 12-cylinder design, its lead features include lower CO2 emissions and a seven per cent reduction in fuel consumption, with no loss of power. This result follows from some aerodynamic fine-tuning, the use of lower rolling resistance tyres, and modifications to steering, fuel pump, and automatic transmission systems.
Diesels units begin with the S350 CDI BlueEfficiency - a 235bhp, 3-litre version with fuel consumption of 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres, and CO2 emissions of 199g/km. A left-hand drive S450 CDI also features.
Petrol units include the S350 3.5-litre six-cylinder 272bhp, and two eight-cylinder units - the 4.7-litre/340bhp S450, and 5.5-litre 388bhp S500. Flagship model is the S600 with 517bhp, 12-cylinder biturbo engine that accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.
One innovative model, expected to be available in right hand drive within the next two years, is the S400 hybrid – a model claimed by Mercedes-Benz to be the world's most efficient petrol-engined luxury saloon. Seen as a pioneering step towards the electrification of the automobile, the S400 links a modified 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine developing 279bhp to a high-voltage, lithium-ion battery-powered electric motor that generates 20bhp with a starting torque of 160Nm.
Combined, they deliver 299bhp and maximum torque of 385Nm with fuel consumption of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of 186g/km.
Mercedes-Benz says it is ranked as the CO2 champion in the luxury class, and comes with a fuel-saving start/stop function, an extensively modified drive train. and seven-speed automatic transmission.
Across the range, safety standards have been improved. A combination of new camera and radar based driver assistance systems include speed limit assist, drowsiness detection. and adaptive high beam assist. Direct-steer and modified active body control features deliver added agility and driving enjoyment, with crosswind stabilisation a feature on eight and 12-cylinder models.
Prices and specifications for Ireland have yet to be agreed and will be announced closer to launch.