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Mercedes S Class 550 Long Wheel base


The launch of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 is a milestone in automotive circles. The S-Class is the car that has dominated the luxury car ranks for years, so when a new one comes along there’s a certain level of anticipation that comes along with it.

Try as they might, the likes of Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Lexus have yet to match the sheer cachet that comes along with the “big” Mercedes: something that is fully reflected in its ever buoyant global sales figures. In its final year of production, the outgoing model still managed to beat the competition in sales volume. To suggest the new one has a lot to live up to is perhaps understating things a little.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

A Wide-Ranging S-Class
The new rear-wheel-drive, long-wheelbase S550 driven here is just one of six different variants of the new S-Class that will eventually hit the market. Among them are short-, long- and extra-long-wheelbase variants together with a Pullman limousine, two-door coupe and two-door convertible. All except the short-wheelbase variant are planned for sale in North America, with deliveries of the long wheelbase scheduled to get under way in September.

This S-Class follows an evolutionary path, eschewing big changes for subtle modifications, all aimed at seeing the S-Class attract new customers without turning off its current owners. This latest model looks more stately than the car it replaces, with a bolder front end appearance, greater structuring to its flanks and a more confident-looking rear. Dimensionally, there’s not much between it and its predecessor, the new S-Class being less than an inch longer, only 1.1 inches wider and not even half an inch higher.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

During the early conceptual stages for the new S-Class, a number of construction techniques were apparently discussed, including a possible switch to a space frame like that used by the Audi A8 in a bid to shed weight. In the end, though, Mercedes-Benz’s engineering brain trust decided on a more conservative approach, retaining conventional monocoque construction in the interests of production continuity.

With an all-aluminum body and more high-strength steel within its floorpan, the new S550 is marginally heavier than its predecessor at 4,442 pounds. Where it does manage to score is in rigidity. We won’t bore you with the details but the overall integrity of the body has risen dramatically, with Mercedes-Benz’s own figures pointing to an almost doubling in rigidity levels compared to the old S-Class.

Familiar Engine With More Power
The new S-Class will initially be sold with just a single engine in North America. The twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 is carried over from the old model with slight revisions. The result is a slight bump in output to 455 horsepower, while torque remains at 516 pound-feet.

Mercedes-Benz planned to launch the S-Class with a new nine-speed automatic gearbox but ended up going with an updated version of the seven-speed unit used by its predecessor. The nine-speed gearbox will eventually make its way into the S-Class, but likely not before a planned face-lift in 2016.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Even without the extra gears, the S550 is capable of startling performance figures. Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.

From behind the wheel, there is a dual personality to the S550. On the one hand, it is remarkably smooth and superbly refined, providing relaxed and soothing qualities at part throttle in Comfort mode. But it also has the in-gear acceleration to keep in touch with some highly fancied performance cars in a straight line when you switch into Sport mode, something that sees it dispatch big distances with great authority.


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