Sedans of all shapes and sizes may be losing ground, sales-wise, to crossovers and SUVs, but Mercedes-Benz is a traditional luxury car company that is not going to abandon its full-size S-Class any time soon.
In fact, the company has made a number of investments in this model range in recent years that has included the addition of coupe and convertible models. For 2018, however, the sedan shines with a refreshed appearance, and has been "comprehensively modernized" (Benz's words) with new engines and driving assistance systems.
All S-Class sedans get new front and rear end styling with LED headlights and taillights. Inside, there's a new steering wheel with heating, touch pads and controls for the car's available radar cruise control.
A new ambient lighting setup offers 64 colours, three illumination zones and ten colour schemes, and Benz has migrated its widescreen cockpit instrument cluster and infotainment combo to this big sedan.
Other tech additions include a new generation of semi-autonomous drive capabilities, standard wireless phone charging for front-seat occupants and an optional rear-seat wireless charging pad. Also now standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, blind spot assist and lane keeping assist, and a new backup camera boasts better display resolution.
Mechanically, some trims gain a new nine-speed automatic transmission and multiple drive modes, and an active air management system improves the car's aerodynamics and powertrain cooling.
The entry-level S 450 model replaces the S 400, using a 3.0L turbo V6 that adds 33 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque for new totals of 362 and 369. The S 560 (replacing the S 550) gets a new turbo 4.0L V8 good for 463 hp (up 14 hp) and 516 lb-ft. This engine also has a cylinder shutoff system that switches to four-cylinder mode under light throttle.
AMG high-performance models once again include S 63 and S 65, the latter gaining a nine-speed auto for the first time and the latter getting new drive modes.
The S-Class convertible uses technology to temper the great outdoors for a more comfortable ride. Airscarf, Benz’s neck-warming system, is standard, and Benz also includes its Aircap system to reduce turbulence with power-operated wind deflectors that rise from the top of the windshield and behind the rear-seat passengers.
In addition to the Cabriolet, the S-Class range also includes coupe, regular- and long-wheelbase sedan body styles, plus the Mercedes-Maybach variant, which further extends the wheelbase offering an additional eight inches of interior space over the long-wheelbase sedan.
More powertrain choices are available on the long-wheelbase sedan. The S 550 e plug-in hybrid is the most frugal S-Class on offer, with a 438-hp V6-based powertrain.
S 450 fuel consumption estimates are 12.8/8.5 L/100 km (city/highway); the Maybach S 650's ratings are 18.4/11.1.