Features

Characteristic: 50 years of the Mercedes S-Class | Autocar India

Written by Raghav

5 many years, seven generations, one large celebration. Because it completes half a century, this is a ringside view of how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has formed the way forward for the car.

Printed On Aug 31, 2022 09:00:00 AM

It’s powerful for fans to reach at a consensus on most issues automotive. However in terms of the most effective automobile on the planet, there’s normally widespread settlement on the title being deserved by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Few vehicles have the identical stature because the S-Class. The Sonderclass (‘particular class’ in German), or the S-Class, has been redefining the way forward for the car for many years and pushing the envelope with regard to innovation and expertise. On the identical time, it has persistently managed to set gold requirements in consolation and luxurious.

It’s primarily these three issues that make an S-Class an S-Class. Designed and engineered by the corporate that invented the car, each successive technology of the S-Class has offered a glimpse into the long run – an instance of what all is feasible to do in a automobile. Many of the security and technological improvements that we generally see in vehicles right this moment made their debut within the S-Class.

The long-lasting nameplate turned 50 years previous lately. That’s 5 many years and 7 generations of dominance within the luxurious automobile phase, and half a century of being the de-facto selection for highly effective folks and other people in energy. The factor with the S-Class is also that it by no means actually will get out of date. In reality, the older they get, the extra sought-after they develop into.

Autocar India lately assembled all seven generations of the S-Class, together with their homeowners, on the Mercedes-Benz India facility in Pune to rejoice this milestone, and acquired their homeowners to inform us why the S-Class is so particular. The homeowners, as you’ll uncover, have been the actual model ambassadors of the automobile and nearly all of them have been S-Class loyalists for so long as they will keep in mind.

W116 (1972-1980)

All of it started right here

The S-Class identify was first put in 1972 on the W116. It was a automobile with many firsts, and the technology that showcased Mercedes’ obsession with security. The W116 was the primary automobile to be constructed with a complete integral security idea and housed the crash-protected gas tank. It was additionally the primary automobile to be geared up with ABS as we all know it right this moment, and it has since saved innumerable lives.

First automobile to be geared up with ABS, which has saved innumerable lives.

It was the primary manufacturing automobile to be fitted with a turbo diesel engine and in addition got here with hydro-pneumatic suspension. Mercedes-Benz additionally provided the W116 with the 6.9-litre V8 engine – the best capability engine produced by the model after WWII – and this explicit mannequin was one of many quickest vehicles on sale at its time.

6.9-litre V8; largest engine made by Mercedes-Benz after WWII.

The 6.9-litre engine is what attracted Behram Marker to this explicit W116. He had been fascinated with it as a baby and at last acquired it 19 years in the past. What makes it much more particular is that it’s the solely recognized W116 450 SEL 6.9 in India.

“It’s a stunning expertise to drive this automobile. Mercedes constructed these sort of vehicles the place each single half is engineered to final a lifetime or extra,” mentioned Marker. He’s planning to revive his automobile quickly, however desires to maintain it as near the unique as potential by entering into for a sympathetic restoration.

V126 (1979-1992)

Metal and rubber by no means felt extra snug collectively

As Mercedes-Benz rolled into the Eighties, the new-generation S-Class constructed on the attributes of the first-generation mannequin. Security was once more the main target, with the V126 pioneering the Supplemental Restraint System Airbag the place the seat belt pre-tensioners have been made to work in sync with the entrance occupant airbags for the primary time. A brand new physique shell construction ensured that this S-Class was the primary manufacturing automobile to satisfy the frontal off-set crash standards. It was additionally the primary Mercedes-Benz to make use of deformable plastic bumpers – one thing that we generally see in vehicles right this moment.

The W126 was the primary automobile to be geared up with airbags.

Mercedes-Benz additionally paid consideration to creating this technology of the S-Class extra environment friendly. This was completed with the usage of light-weight supplies within the automobile’s manufacturing, and it additionally featured an aerodynamic physique developed within the wind tunnel.

The V126 went to nice lengths to pamper its occupants with gear comparable to eight-way powered entrance seats and energy recline alter for rear seats. Consolation ranges have been superlative, because of hydro-pneumatic self-levelling rear suspension, which gave it the fabled ‘magic carpet experience’ tag. It was so good that motoring pundits usually mentioned metal and rubber had by no means felt extra snug collectively.

8-way powered seats matched ‘80s decadence; be aware iconic pictogram.

With over 8,00,000 models bought, the V126 was a industrial success for Mercedes-Benz. Its 12-year manufacturing run is the longest for any technology of the S-Class.

The Habibs have owned Mercedes-Benz fashions because the 1930s, together with a number of S-Courses, and a V126 entered their storage again in 1989 when it was nonetheless in manufacturing.

“It’s a unbelievable machine. You get the facility, you get the consolation, you get the reliability. It’s taken on Indian roads for the final 30-odd years, and the construct high quality is unbelievable. The query isn’t why Mercedes-Benz, it’s solely Mercedes-Benz,” says architect Aakif Habib.

W140 (1991-1998)

Fashionable Basic

The W140 is now a correct fashionable traditional. Just like the earlier two generations, it felt like a automobile a decade forward of its time. The main target was on cutting-edge expertise comparable to an Auto-Pilot navigation system and one of many earliest examples of voice assistants – the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated management system. It additionally featured the PARKTRONIC parking help system.

With W140, the S entered the trendy age with voice help and satnav.

It was the primary automobile to characteristic Digital Stability Programme (ESP) and it additionally had Brake Help System (BAS). For the entrance occupants, it featured automated seat-belt peak alter and facet airbags.

It was the primary Mercedes-Benz manufacturing automobile to get a V12 engine, and it packed gear like double-glazed home windows and soft-close doorways for first charge refinement and comfort.

Parking rods have been changed by non-obligatory PARKTRONIC system in 1995.

Over 20 years in the past, Mercedes-Benz started the event of autonomous driving with the W140. One of many prototypes was transformed in such a approach that a pc was capable of function the steering, throttle valve and brakes. The prototype drove at speeds as much as 130kph for a distance of 1,000km.

Satish Jaysankar fell in love together with his buddy’s W140 whereas they have been each driving all the way down to the Mercedes-Benz Basic Automotive Rally in 2014 from Bengaluru to Mumbai. Jaysankar purchased the automobile from his buddy instantly after the rally.

After proudly owning many up to date Mercedes fashions, the W140 is what made him a Mercedes-Benz traditional automobile collector and the deep blue W140 is one in all his each day drivers. He sums it up finest: “You actually really feel like you might be driving a tank.”

The S-Class got here to India nearly 30 years after its world debut, however as is obvious from the tales of individuals comparable to Marker and Habib, S-Class loyalists have liked the luxe limo lengthy earlier than it formally entered India.

V220 (1998-2005)

Whats up India

The V220 began the India chapter of the Particular Class. Launched on the flip of the century, with superior options and 340 patents, the V220 was able to enter the brand new millennium.

Its most distinct characteristic was its design. Mercedes-Benz moved to a extra futuristic design language with the V220. What didn’t change, nonetheless, was its potential to set new developments in automotive expertise.

V220’s the primary automobile to get DISTRONIC radar-guided cruise management.

The V220 S-Class got here with keyless entry, and debuted DISTRONIC radar-guided cruise management. It additionally had options like COMAND management and a show system with dynamic navigation. Mercedes-Benz took security to a brand new degree with PRE-SAFE – a system that will anticipate an accident and activate preventive security measures like closing the sunroof and tightening seatbelts.

COMAND system, which debuted within the V220, got here with its personal guide!

The V220 provided customary air suspension, which made it glide over the worst of street surfaces. Aryan Shirole fell for this mixture of chic design, excellent experience consolation and expertise. Shirole at all times aspired to personal an S-Class and he fulfilled his dream with the fourth-generation mannequin.

“It’s a 15-year previous automobile, however it nonetheless wafts on the street,” says Shirole. The air suspension and display on Shirole’s V220 all look and run like new.

V221 (2005-2013)

Finest acquired higher

The V220 was changed by the a lot bolder trying V221 that was characterised by cutting-edge digital expertise. It debuted with Mercedes’ dynamic Night time View Help, and it was additionally geared up with an enhanced proximity-controlled cruise management DISTRONIC Plus that includes Lane Retaining Help.

Digital tech, with speedo doubling up as night-vision show, was a giant draw.

Security, as at all times, was paramount and to that finish, it got here geared up with the PRE-SAFE brake system with autonomous partial braking, which was later up to date to carry out full-stop autonomous braking. This was the primary technology of the S-Class to have a hybrid powertrain.

COMAND system, customary in V221, was now pushed by a rotator.

The V221 provided impeccable street manners with an ultra-comfy experience. The inside, which was embellished with chrome , wooden and leather-based, made it appear and feel further particular.

The Hedes, who personal this explicit V221, have owned each technology of the S-Class, proper from the 220S Ponton – from an period approach earlier than Mercedes-Benz vehicles have been formally bought in India.

“The V221 was launched some 17 years in the past, and none of its rivals got here near what it delivered,” says Samit Hede.

The assertion “as soon as an S-Class, at all times an S-Class” appears to ring true. In any case, there’s nothing to improve to when you’ve absolutely the pinnacle in vehicles than its newer model.

V222 (2013-2020)

Out of this world

The V222, which was bought in India between 2014 and 2021, opened up much more prospects in innovation and security. It debuted driver help techniques, which have been a precursor to autonomous driving.

Highway Floor Scan pre-empted threats posed by floor undulations.

It additionally had radars that would scan the street forward and mechanically alter the suspension to thwart threats posed by floor undulations. Furthermore, it was the primary automobile on the planet solely with out conventional bulbs.

Look ma, no (conventional) bulbs. One other first within the automotive world.

This technology elevated consolation by providing therapeutic massage and energetic seat air flow. It additionally got here with Energising wellness management that merged a number of in-car options to spice up passenger wellness. The Maybach vary was added as essentially the most luxurious variant within the S-Class line-up.

In India, the diesel-powered V222 S-Class was the primary automobile to satisfy BS6 emission norms greater than two years earlier than the sale of BS4 engines was banned by the federal government. It was additionally the primary Mercedes-Benz in India to supply Superior Driver Help Methods (ADAS).

The V222 S-Class was a no brainer when the Rustomjis got down to purchase a brand new household automobile. They needed the world’s finest automobile and the S500 match the invoice. Their V222 has an added AMG physique package, which, says Rohan Rustomji, offers it a very good mix of luxurious and sportiness.

“The Magic Carpet experience is phenomenal. The way in which the automobile scans the street forward and adjusts the suspension is out of this world,” says Rustomji.

V223 (2020-present)

Heading into the long run

Know-how guidelines within the V223’s cabin. With as much as 5 screens, the second-generation MBUX system allows one other degree of human-to-machine interplay by improvements like augmented actuality heads-up show and spatial notion by 3D eye-tracking.

Subsequent dimension: 12.3-inch instrument cluster contains a distinctive 3D impact.

Security is enhanced, and Mercedes-Benz has added the world’s first sequence manufacturing rear-seat airbag. It additionally options rear-axle steering that may steer the rear wheels as much as 10 levels to assist manoeuvrability.

Like earlier S-Courses, the V223 S-Class is the whole lot a automobile will be – the most effective in security, tech, consolation and luxurious. In typical S-Class vogue, it’s positive to be the torchbearer till a brand new S-Class arrives.

Nothing however the most secure: V223 first sequence manufacturing automobile with airbags for the rear.

With autonomous driving and electrification altering the course of the car, it could be attention-grabbing to see what the S-Class of the long run will probably be able to. In the mean time, right here’s to a different 50 years of sheer motoring excellence.

About the author

Raghav