Mercedes is calling the S-Class “the best car in the world” so the latest generation of their stately saloon has a lot to live up to. The German marque’s UK arm has also recorded its most successful first half to a year with 53,686 new cars registered. They’ve also set a new record for a quarter with 25,470 sales between April and June, so the new S-Class will have to hit the ground running when its released in October 2013.
Unfortunately for Mercedes-Benz UK, the new car’s been designed to maximise sales in China rather than in Europe. This wouldn’t make much difference if the Mercedes S-Class was a sports car or a family hatchback, but as this is a luxury saloon car the Chinese market dictates a car that’s comfortable for passengers rather than a saloon that’s sporty and agile on the road.
The major difference between the markets is that most Mercedes buyers in China are chauffeur driven, so legroom and comfort are the priority. To that end, Mercedes has designed the next gen S-Class as a long wheelbase machine and will later derive a shorter wheelbase vehicle from it. This change means that there’s an additional 14mm of legroom in the rear and 12mm of headroom has been added to the cabin in an attempt to build a comfortable environment. The optional “First Class Rear” package adds further luxuries like cup holders that heat or cool drinks and fold-away tables, like those found on an airplane.
At launch, the new car will be offered as a S 350 BlueTEC, with diesel power, and a S 400 Hybrid. Other models will following in the first quarter of 2014. The S 350 BlueTEC costs £62,650 and comes with a 3.0 litre V6 that produces 254bhp. The S 400 Hybrid offers a combined economy of 35.8mpg and has 279bhp on tap but will set you back £74,685.