New engines, even more luxury and even more technology for the Mercedes flagship

Mercedes-Benz has launched a revised version of its flagship S-class at the 2017 Shanghai motor show. Set to debut in UK markets from July, the updated car features a range of new engines and further tweaks to its autonomous driving capabilities, as well as other technological improvements.

Mercedes has made the job of differentiating the new S-class a little easier thanks to a new radiator grille. Six- and eight-cylinder models share a three twin-louvre design with vertical strips and a gloss black finish for the fins, while long-wheelbase and V12 models get additional chrome vertical strips.

If that doesn’t work as a method of identification, the more eagle-eyed will spot new multi-beam LED headlights at the front and crystal-like LED tail lamps. Like the recently-introduced E-class Coupe, these play something of a light show when the car is unlocked and locked, echoing the coloured DRL display at the other end of the car.

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Front and rear bumpers are subtly different too, and there’s a smattering more chrome – but otherwise, the S-class is the same behemoth it’s always been. Thankfully, that also applies inside, where the S still has one of the best cabins in the business. Two 12.3-inch high-resolution displays sit behind a single glass cover and provide as much information as any driver could require.

Touch sensitive controls on the steering wheel can be operated much like the screen of a smartphone, with swiping motions giving access to various menu, while a similarly touch-sensitive control on the centre console controls the infotainment functions. Elsewhere there’s an “Energizing” comfort control to make the interior as relaxed an environment as possible – changing the seat heating and cooling, massage functions, interior air fragrance, mood lighting and various other features.

Relaxation in the S-class is as much about the way it gets down the road as it is spraying perfume through the vents though, and to that end the new 345kW, 516lb ft V8 in the S 560, the bi-turbo V8 of the S 63, and Mercedes’ most powerful diesel ever – with up to 250kW and 516lb ft – in the S 400d. A slightly less powerful S 350d also makes its debut.

While the latter wouldn’t normally be a subject of intrigue, the diesel marks the revival of the straight-six layout for Mercedes, as well as variable valve lift, and the combination of an aluminium block and steel pistons. It’s said to comply with the future Real Driving Emissions legislation, which will be a more accurate way of measuring emissions and consumption than the existing NEDC cycle.

An inline-six petrol is also on the way, as well as a plug-in hybrid. So is Mercedes’ 48-volt electrical system, which powers the integrated starter alternator, various high power consumers such as the water pump and aircon compressor.

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S-class luxury is also a function of its ride quality, so improvements to the Magic Body Control suspension, curve-tilting (as already found in the S-class Coupe) and an improved ability to read the road as part of the Road Surface Scan system to prepare the suspension for the surface ahead.

Autonomous tech has also improved, with tweaks to Active Proximity Control and Active Steer Assist, improved lane-changing abilities and new functions for the Active Emergency Stop Assist. Enhanced camera and radar systems allow all elements to work more effectively than before, while the car can use map and navigation data to adjust vehicle speed depending on the driving environment and conditions.

The updated S-class is being shown at Shanghai in standard, Maybach and AMG forms. Click here to read about more new vehicles being unveiled in Shanghai.