Mercedes Benz

Mercedes-Benz S-Class History

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Describing the Mercedes-Benz S-Class as “a class of its own” is not an exaggeration. In fact, this statement is actually the English translation of the S-Class’s German name,”S-Klasse”.  An abbreviation for “Sonderklasse” the Daimler given name for the S-Class translates  to “special class”. With each model year Mercedes-Benz continues to bring us an S-Class worthy of the front page. Just when it seems like they’ve made every improvement and advancement possible, the newest models make their debut. The esteemed S-Class has always served as flag ship model for Mercedes-Benz, each model debuting their newest innovations and advancements. In order to fully appreciate all that is the S-Class one must examine its predecessors. To some, the original members of the S-Class may be slightly less than impressive, but when you consider that fact that this class helped define Mercedes-Benz, their importance shines through their outdated exteriors. And after all,  a Mercedes-Benz is still a Mercedes-Benz, no matter how old.

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W116 350SE


This was officially the first Mercedes-Benz series to be declared a member of the S-Class. It saw production from 1972-1980 and it was quite the popular sedan.  The W116 series was an important milestone for Mercedes-Benz as it was the very first to place importance on safety features over pure styling and aesthetics. As a result of decades worth of safety research, the W116s were safe, and quite desirable. The W116 was considered to be a luxury sedan, it’s fellow S-Class members certainly followed in those footsteps.

Models:  280S/SE/SEL, 300SD, 350/450SE/SEL

Engine Options:

2.8-liter inline-6

3.5-liter V8

4.5-liter V8

6.9-liter V8

3.0-liter inline-5 turbodiesel

Production:  1972-1980

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W126 300SE


Making it’s debut in 1979, as a 1980 model, the W126 series held tight to the safety features of the W116 while leaving room for some necessary improvements. It was the first car to introduce the Mercedes-Benz patented airbag as well as the passenger side air bags. It also took to it’s performance roots as the W126 exhibited upgrades in aerodynamics, but it didn’t stop there. The interior featured advanced climate control, heated seats, cruise control and reading lamps, making it not only the safest but also the most comfortable Mercedes to date.

Models:  280/300/380SE/SEL, 420/500/560SE/SEL/SEC, 300/350SD/SDL

Engine Options: 

2.6-liter inline-6

2.8-liter inline-6

3.0-liter inline-6

3.5-liter inline-6

3.8-liter V8

4.2-liter V8

5.0-liter V8

5.6-liter V8

3.0-liter 5-cylinder turbodiesel

3.0-liter 6-cylinder turbodiesel

3.5-liter 6-cylinder turbodiesel

Production:  December 1979-April 1992

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W140 600SEC
W140 600SEC


The 25% more expensive replacement for the W126 was the first to feature the new Mercedes-Benz design scheme. Although the W140 did follow in it’s footstep as it continued to make both safety and luxury upgrades. The W140 series came equipped with electric jam proof windows, rear-parking markers, and a heating system. The later models would also receive clear turn signal indicators as well as head lamps with separate low and high-beam reflectors. This series set the stage for the slightly more modern looking S-Class models.

Models:  300SE/SEL, 300SDL, 350SDL, 400/500/600SEL, 500/600SEC

Engine Options:

2.8-liter 197 hp inline-6 

3.2-liter 228 hp inline-6

4.2-liter 275 hp V8

5.0-liter 330 hp V8

6.0-liter 408 hp V12 M120 (1991–1993)

6.0-liter 389 hp V12 M120 (1994–1999)

3.0-liter Turbodiesel 177 hp inline-6

3.5 -liter Turbodiesel 148 hp inline-6

Production:  August 1991- August 1998

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W220 S320


Upon it’s release in 1998, the W220 series was completely restyled with a lighter and smaller body than its predecessors. This series took comfort to a whole other lever with Active Ventilated Seats, but it’s the technological advancements that truly set it apart. The center mounted navigation system was introduced as well as the COMAND input control system. Also an option on the W220 series was keyless ignition and the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. On top of everything else, the W220 series even offered more interior space than the W140s.

Models:  S280, S320 CDI, S320, S350, S350, S420, S430, S500, S600, S55, S63, S65

Engine Options:

2.8-liter 204 hp V6

3.2-liter 224 hp V6

3.2-liter 197 hp inline-6 diesel

3.7-liter 245 hp V6

4.0-liter 250 hp V8 diesel

4.3-liter 279 hp V8

5.0-liter 306 hp V8

5.4-liter 493 hp V8

5.8-liter 367 hp V12

5.5-liter 493 hp V12

6.3-liter 444 hp V12

6.0-liter 604 hp V12

Production:  August 1998-July 2005

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W221 S600
W221 S600


This series maintained all the safety, performance, and luxury features of it’s S-Class predecessors, but that’s about all it kept. Almost everything in the W221 series was upgraded from the W220 series. For starters, the W221 is slightly larger in all dimensions. The interior has been upgraded with new materials while the exterior gained sharper lines giving it a bold yet classy look. The W221 also got some upgrades under the hood with a 26% power increase. Mercedes-Benz continued their safety standards with the addition of their latest pre-collision system.

Models:  S250 CDI, S300, S350, S400 HYBRID, S450, S550(500), S600, S320/S420 CDI, S63, S65

Engine Options:

2.1-liter diesel 204 hp inline-4

2.1-liter diesel 204 hp inline-4

3.0-liter diesel 258 hp V6

3.5-liter 306 hp V6

4.0-liter hybrid 295 hp V6

4.7-liter 335 hp V8

4.7-liter 435 hp V8

5.5-liter 382 hp V8

5.5-liter 510 hp V12

5.5-liter AMG 536 hp V8

6.0-liter AMG 621 hp V12

6.2-liter AMG 525 hp V8

Production:  2005-2013

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W222 S-Class
W222 S-Class


The newest additions to the S-Class are nothing short of stunning. Exhibiting a more streamlined look, the W222 series is their best yet. They have increase both in power and luxury, a feat that was seemingly impossible. Pulling inspiration from the F700 concept car, the new S-Class models will feature LED head and taillights. From the S350 to the S63 AMG this new series is sure to top the rest in both performance and sales. The S-Class has proven it’s popularity and reliability over the years, it’s new members will without a doubt continue this legacy.

Models:  S300 BlueTEC Hybrid, S350 BlueTEC, S400 Hybrid, S500, S550

Price:  $92,350-$212,000

Engine Options:

3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6

3.5-liter gasoline V-6 + hybrid electric motor

4.6-liter biturbo gasoline V-8

4.5-liter biturbo gasoline V-12

5.5-liter biturbo AMG V-8

6.0-liter biturbo gasoline V-12

Production:  2013-

Horsepower:  240-621

0-60 mph:  7.0-4.2