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Thursday, May 23, 2013

2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class

The Mercedes-Benz S Class has long stood at the top of the full-size luxury sedan segment, known for its comfort, style, and technological innovation. All-new for 2014, the S Class seeks not just to retain that reputation, but to raise the bar.

Unveiled in an elaborate ceremony at the assembly site of the Airbus A380 in Hamburg, Germany, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class wears a new look to complement its new equipment. While it's not a dramatic departure from the previous S Class, the shape, as well as the details, will mark it clearly as the newest interpretation of Mercedes' full-size form factor.

At the front, sleek and conservative lines dominate, though large lower air intakes give a touch of aggression. Complex headlights show two nearly trapezoidal lights topped with an LED arch, while the grille is a simple affair of chrome and crossbars. The hood is sculpted for airflow, moving smoothing toward the cabin. Along the side, the 2014 S Class is almost plain, but the arching roofline gives a hint of coupe-like shape, sloping to the rear. That rear end has something of the flavor of the defunct Maybach brand, the trunk lid sloping to meet the fiber optic tail lights and small diffuser-like protrusion around the rectangular exhausts.

Inside, a pair of 12.3-inch high-resolution displays make up the instrument panel and center display, riding in a single pod. Horizontal curves wrap around the doors, meeting almost seamlessly with the dash, giving a feeling of continuity to the cabin. Round vent openings are the main detail in the center, with only a small strip of buttons. The new two-spoke steering wheel holds most of the controls. Ambient lighting filters from beneath the wood trim and central display unit. In the rear seat, the same design and materials are carried over, enhancing the executive limo look of the S Class.

From high-tech safety assists to business-themed optional extras, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class is comprehensively equipped. A First Class Rear option adds a "business center," with a telephone handset, folding table, and additional compartments. Updated mbrace2 infotainment supplies the audio/visual component, and Burmester audio resolves music into crystal-clear tones.

On the safety front, the 2014 S Class offers Collision Prevention Assist, Magic Vision Control, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Pre-Safe brake assist with pedestrian detection. Optional add-ons include a Surround View Camera, Active Parking Assist, Night View Assist Plus, and rear seatbelt airbags.

Under the hood, the new S Class will offer a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V-8 engine in S550 trim, enabling the car to hit 60 mph in about 4.6 seconds. Available in both rear-wheel drive and 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the 2014 S550 will be the first model launched to the U.S. this September, though all-wheel drive models will wait until November, arriving alongside the S63 AMG model. A plug-in hybrid version is also due in the third quarter of 2014. Mercedes-Benz hasn't yet released details on the AMG or hybrid models.

U.S. specifications for gas mileage, acceleration, and pricing haven't yet been decided for any of the models as yet, either, though we do know we'll only get the long-wheelbase version of the car this time around. A slightly wider track and more shoulder, head, and elbow room should make for a slightly more spacious cabin than the last generation.

We haven't yet driven the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S Class, but we will soon. Expect full driving details and U.S.-market specifications closer to the car's launch this fall.

Conservative, but stylish new lookPotent V-8 engineAll-wheel drive availableExtensive high-tech safety devices

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