That of course was a huge leap forward for the model globally as it became the first car in the world to feature only LEDs both inside and outside, had an impressive array of driver and safety assistance systems, was more focused on comfort and luxury than ever before and included the magic body control suspension besides for the first time featuring many autonomous driving features.
However, in India, most of these features that relied on radar systems were deactivated due to the restriction of radar frequencies and we could notexperience the full range of possibilities of the S-class.All that has now changed with radar systems being active on the car but that is not all that has changed. While the V8 engine has moved up in terms of power and designation to 560 instead of the 500 globally, Mercedes India has decided to launch the refurbished S-class in India with only 6-cylinder engines, a V6 petrol and as a Mercedes first, an inline six diesel. While the petrol is designated 450, a step down from the 500, the diesel retains its 350 badging.
The 2,996cc petrol is a twin turbo unit and apart from the high 367bhp that it achieves at 5,500rpm and delivers up to 6,100rpm, thanks to twin turbocharging, it produces its peak 500Nm torque from 1,600rpm all the way up to 4,000rpm.
To drive, the petrol engine is great for Indian roads. With max torque coming in at so low in the rev range, it makes quick getaways in stop and go traffic conditions. No wonder it gets up to 100kmph in just over five seconds. We especially loved driving the car in the city and but it was good out of it as not only is the engine smooth but it gets up the rev range pretty quickly as well.
The 350 diesel, on the other hand, is the first inline six from Mercedes that we have seen and is also the most powerful diesel engine put into production by the German car maker. The 2,925cc engine produces max power of 286bhp and peak torque of 600Nm that again is generated from a low 1,200rpm. The best part of this diesel engine seems to be its NVH as there is no way that the occupants of the car can feel the car.
Besides it is comfortable to drive in the city as well though quick getaways are not as smooth in the city. But it does become the only diesel engine in the country to comply with Bharat Stage VI norms on Bharat Stage V fuel. This has been achieved with the addition of Ad-blue as well as a particulate filter. The Mercedes engineers say that the Ad-blue comes with its own 25-litre tank and will need to be topped up once annually when the car goes for its annual service.
The other big change is in the steering wheel which is all-new and now with touch button controls that are easier to use and look good. Even with the additional cruise control switches on it, overall the switchgear and the systems are easier to use than before.
The cabin continues to be class leading with the ottoman seat still one of the main draws as with the touch of a button the front passenger seat can be folded over forward and deploy a footrest while the rear left seat goes into a comfortable reclining position with a calf rest also coming up to support the legs.
The assistance systems will take some getting used to as the car responds frequently to things that are not even threats on Indian roads. The autonomous driving systems while working well in Europe still need to get up on speed on developing market road scenarios.
So while emergency braking can be a nuisance, it can definitely save lives if the car was in a situation where a collision is imminent. Cross traffic alert and pre-safe systems (especially if there is a collision from the rear) are welcome features.
Mercedes has managed the mid-life facelift of the S-class rather well. While globally the changes may not be too many, the release of radar frequencies for cars means that this is a radically changed car. And while Mercedes has added a lot of technology to the car, it has maintained costs by switching to a lower spec engine for the flagship. Although it is an excellent car the mid-life changes are not wide-reaching and deep enough to keep it at the very top, once a competition car with a generation change makes its debut in India.