Durban - The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class has landed in South Africa, featuring a range of new engines, a new 48-volt integrated/starter alternator, and a new wide-screen flight deck with two 31cm displays under a shared glass panel.

Visually the new S-Class is chunkier, with a bigger grille between a distinctive full-LED headlights, each with three strips of daytime running light LEDs, and a strongly marked new rear diffuser.

Denis Droppa, editor of our sister print publication Drive 360, is attending the South African launch in Durban, but in the meantime here’s what we know so far about what the local-market line-up will look like.

 Nine to choose from

The 2018 S-Class is available in South Africa in a nine-strong lineup that starts with two diesels and winds up with two high-performance AMG and two super-luxury Maybach variants.

The diesels share a new three-litre turbo straight six that replaces the V6s of the previous generation. In the S350 d it’s tuned for 210kW and 600Nm, at a (claimed) cost of 5.5 litres per 100km on the outdated NEDC scale, while the S400 d is rated at 250kW and 700Nm, making it the most powerful series production car diesel yet from Mercedes-Benz, and is quoted at 5.6 litres per 100km.

There’s also a new three-litre straight six turbopetrol in the S450, with 270kW and 500Nm on tap, replacing the 245kW and 480Nm of the outgoing S400’s turbo V6.

Butter smooth

The previous S500 becomes the S560; its turbo-petrol V8 has been downsized from 4.7 to an even four litres, but its power rating is up from 335 to 345kW, with torque unchanged at 700Nm - but with a claimed saving in fuel consumption of about 10 percent thanks to its ability to shut down four of it eight cylinders under partial load.

The only model that doesn’t have a new or uprated engine is the S600, with its butter smooth six-litre V12 delivering an unruffled 390kW and 830Nm.

For the plutocrats among us, there are the Maybach S560 and S650 versions, the latter with an uprated AMG-specification version of the iconic V12 that pours out 463kW and 1000Nm.

And finally, there are the AMG iron fists in velvet gloves; the S63 has an AMG-tuned version of the new four-litre twin turbo V8 that’s good for 450kW (up 20kW from the previous 5.5-litre V8) at the same 900Nm torque rating, while the S65 shares its 463kW/1000Nm turbo V12 with the  Maybach S650.

All the six and eight-cylinder Esses are rear-wheel driven via a 9G‑Tronic automatic transmission, while the V12s deliver the goods through a 7G-Tronic ‘box.

Travel first class

 The cabin is trimmed in exclusive fine wood and leather (we’d expect nothing less at this level) with a new ‘energising’ option that combines heated or cooled seats with massage, mood music, ambient lighting, fragrancing (no, we’re not kidding) to let you set the mood from ‘relaxing at the spa’ to ‘up and at ‘em!’

The infotainment system of the new S-Class flight deck is controlled via touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel that respond to swiping motions like a smartphone; the more conventional elements for the adaptive cruise control are also directly mounted on the steering wheel. New for this year is Ask Mercedes - a built-in personal assistant app that delivers answers right away - targeted, informative and entertaining.

While not yet capable of driving itself, the S-Class’ active proximity control and active steering assist will help you stay in your lane and maintain a safe following distance, while the active cruise control consults the satnav to find out what lies around the corner and adjusts itself accordingly, road surface scan reads upcoming bumps and sets up the suspension to float over them and the Curve programme gently leans the car into corners.

See Drive 360 on Thursday for Droppa's driving impressions of the new S-Class.


S350 d R1 620 000
S400 d R1 690 000
S450 L R1 620 000
S560 L R2 040 000
S600 L R2 760 000
Maybach S560 R2 450 000
Maybach S650 R3 210 000
S63 AMG R2 760 000
S65 AMG R3 410 000

These prices include a six-year or 100 000 maintenance plan.