Mercedes-Benz S550 in diamond white (direct-injected 4.7L bi-turbo V8, 429 hp/516 ft-pounds, 4.9 seconds 0-60 MPH. 4,740 lbs, 11.05 lbs/hp, EPA 15/19/25 MPG). eBay has the biggest selection of S550; see How to Win at eBay. bigger.
Mercedes S550. bigger.
Hood air intakes, also showing dual radiation sensors for the HVAC system, Mercedes S550, June 2016. bigger.
Your Mercedes S550 awaits you in the California Desert. bigger.
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You can pay more, but you can't get more than a Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse.
Mercedes-Benz invented the car in 1885, and for over 130 years have continously improved on the state-of-the-art. Mercedes-Benz has made the finest, if not the only, cars on earth ever since they invented the car. They've survived two world wars which pretty much destroyed all of Germany, and they have been able to protect all their records and know-how through this. They've never been bought, sold, or spun off; Mercedes is one of the very few car companies still running itself.
Mercedes has been using the "S-Klasse" appellation since at least 1949 for the world's top model.
Mercedes went on to invent modern steering in 1896, the first electric car in 1906, the first multivalve engine in 1910, the first supercharged engine in 1921, the first fully independent suspension in 1931, the first Diesel car in 1936, the first crumple zone in 1951, fuel injection in 1954, the first gated shifter in 1961, the first modern antilock brakes in 1978, the first integrated airbag & explosive seat belt tensioner system in 1980, the first electronic traction control in 1985, the first fully automatic convertible top in 1989, the first electronic stability control in 1995, keyless entry and engine starting in 1997, and RADAR-controlled cruise control in 2000. Mercedes has over 100,000 patents.
The S-Klasse is unlike any other car — even another Mercedes. The S-Klasse pulls out all the stops; everything is done without compromise and shows us what other cars may be like 10 years from now. You haven't owned a Mercedes until you've owned a new S; this is what Mercedes is all about.
The massaging seats are a dream; I go for rides just to get a massage.
The buttons and knobs are billet aluminum (not chromed plastic) and if details are your thing, you'll never stop finding new things to impress you, like having eight windshield washer squirters
What makes the S-Klasse stand out is how solid and silent it feels, and how it jumps forward as if it were weightless at the slightest press of the pedal.
Just roll up the last window to hear how silent it suddenly becomes. It uses dual-layer laminated soundproof and infra-red proof glass.
You never have to press the accelerator; it just goes with the slightest touch, and it's always smooth and silent. Sure, there are other supercars with sub-5-second 0-60 times, but they won't do it smoothly and silently as does the S550.
THe turbo motor is a torquer, using lots of boost at low RPMs. Its biturbo powerplant makes so much torque that it's easy to drive all day and never need to go above 2,000 RPM; it's only pulling 1,488 RPM at 60 MPH. If you give it some gas, you're really flying by 3,000 RPM. This new fuel-sipping 4.7 litre biturbo monster has the same torque as the previous supercharged AMG 5.5 litre engine: 516 foot-pounds!
THe S550 is silent; it doesn't have to scream anything. It has not a single 'BiTurbo" or "V8" badge on it, and you can't hear the engine at all while cruising.
The noisiest thing in the S550 are the turn-signal blinkers. Everything else is so silent that their clicking stands out.
THe second noisiest thing is the ventilation system. Mercedes bragged in 1991 that the W140 S-Klasse used huge dashboard vents so they were much quieter while moving the volume of air needed; most cars, this S550 and the newer 2014- W222 version use normal size vents that wheeze more.
The massaging seats are half of the reason for the S-Klasse. They don't vibrate; they have what feels like dozens of individual hands that work together brilliantly — saving a trip to Sweden.
The interior design is brilliantly simple. There is none of the visual noise from radio buttons — they're all hidden! There's not even a digital clock to disturb your relaxed mood — there is a real analog clock instead.
The S550 is all about enjoying your journey. It's all about your pleasure. The S550 makes it a dream to just go for a ride; you look for reasons to spend more time inside it. The cabin is silent, the massaging seats are a dream and the sound system is magnificent.
The W221 body style seen here was introduced for the 2007 model year.
It was slightly updated for 2010, and made through the 2013 model year.
The 2007 ~ 2009 have two body-colored bands covering each tail light, while the 2010 ~ 2013 models have all-red tail lights.
The 2010-2013 models have active high beam control; the headlights can automatically switch from high to low and in between depending on oncoming traffic. Also added are changebale colors for the interior ambient lighting (amber, white or blue), an SD card reader, more Bluetooth options, HD radio and an iPod connection in the glove box.
The S550 V8 as shown here is the most popular. While incorrect, many people refer to the following as versions of the S550.
The S550 has insane amounts of power and also uses very little fuel, which is why it's the most popular.
The 2007 ~ 2011 S550s have traditional "bruiser" 383 hp 5.5 litre port-injected V8s. They did 0-60 in 5.3 seconds and the standing quarter mile in 13.8 seconds.
The 2012 and 2013 S550s have the new 429 hp, 516 ft-lb. direct-injected 4.7 litre biturbo V8, which continues in the newer W222 body offered since the 2014 model year. It does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and the standing quarter mile in 13.3 seconds.
The new S550 biturbo V8 has more power and better fuel efficiency and economy than the older non-turbo engine.
EPA rated 15/19/25 MPG.
The S550 4MATIC is all-wheel drive and is EPA rated at 15/18/24 MPG.
In 2013, the last year of this W221 body style, Mercedes included the Premium 1 and Premium 2 packages as standard equipment.
5,513cc (336.4 CID) litre 60º V-12.
510 hp at 5,000 RPM.
612 ft-lb at 1,800 ~ 3,500 RPM.
82mm (3.23") bore x 87mm (3.43") stroke.
9.0:1 compression ratio.
5-speed transmission ratios: (1) 3.59, (2) 2.19, (3) 1.41, (4) 1.00, (5) 0.83, (R) -3.16. Final drive ratio 3.82:1.
4.5s 0-60 MPH.
130 MPH electronically-limited top speed.
EPA rated 11/14/19 MPG.
It was offered in all years; the S600 is the classic V12 Mercedes and has been around before and after this W221 body style.
With the crazy power of the S550, especially the 2012-present standard biturbo V8, there isn't any reason to get the V12 other than knowing you're better than the next guy.
5,461cc direct-injected biturbo 90º V8.
536 hp at 5,500 RPM.
590 ft-lbs at 2,000~4,500 RPM.
(optional AMG performance package: 563 hp at 5,500 RPM, 664 ft-lbs at 2,000~4,500 RPM.)
6,500 RPM redline.
3.86" bore x 3.56" stroke.
10.0:1 compression ratio.
Tires: 255/35ZR 20 front, 275/35ZR 20 rear.
15.4" and 14.4" disc brakes.
4.4s 0-60 MPH. (4.3s with optional AMG performance package.)
155 MPH electronically-limited top speed (186 MPH electronically-limited top speed with optional AMG performance package).
EPA rated 15/18/23 MPG.
AMG used to be Mercedes' hot-rod division, but since the S550 is already faster than any 1960s muscle car, AMG today is mostly for men with low self esteem or people who just want Mercedes' most expensive without asking why. If you really take it out and race it, the advantage of the S63 over the E-klasse and other body styles is that it the S-Klasse has more headroom for driving with a helmet.
5,980cc (364.9 CID) biturbo 60º V-12.
621 hp at 4,800 RPM.
738 ft-lbs at 2,000~4,000 RPM.
5,950 RPM redline.
82.6mm (3.25") bore.
93.00mm (3.66") stroke.
9.0:1 compression ratio.
5-speed transmission ratios: (1) 3.59, (2) 2.19, (3) 1.41, (4) 1.00, (5) 0.83, (R) -3.16. Final drive ratio 3.82:1.
Tires: 255/35ZR 20 front, 275/35ZR 20 rear.
15.4" and 14.4" disc brakes.
4.2s 0-60 MPH.
186 MPH electronically-limited top speed.
EPA rated 12/14/19 MPG.
The cheapest S-class. It deletes the ATTENTION ASSIST system, which is standard on the others. It's slower than the S350 Diesel, and gets poorer fuel economy, so you can forget this model.
Gas Engine: 3.5 litre V6, 275 hp at 6,000 RPM, 258 ft-lbs at 3,000~5,500 RPM. 6,500 RPM redline.
Electronic Motor: 20 hp, 118 ft-lb electric motor.
Total: 295 hp, 284 ft-lb.
120V lithium-ion battery.
7.2s 0-60 MPH.
15.4s standing quarter mile.
130 MPH electronically-limited top speed.
19/21/25 MPG EPA.
The parts cost to replace the hybrid's battery is about $5,500 before labor.
I have no idea why the S400 exists. The S350 uses much less fuel and is a much simpler and less expensive design. I suspect the S400 is just so Mercedes can look like it's fiddling with hybrid powertrains.
Mercedes' press information tells us that the S400 HYBRID comes with the world's first lithium-ion battery designed specifically for automotive use. The light-weight, high-capacity lithium-ion battery works with a 20-horsepower electric motor and a V6 gasoline engine for a total of 295 horsepower and 284 ft-lb. of torque, to provide hybrid power with impressive fuel economy.
The Mercedes-Benz S400 HYBRID uses a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, a magneto-electric motor and sophisticated hybrid electronics to produce 30 percent better fuel economy than a comparable S550 model. Not only does the electric motor make 20 horsepower, but it also produces an impressive starting torque of 118 ft-lb, while the gasoline engine develops 275 hp and 258 ft-lb of torque.
A powerful computer controls the hybrid system, recalculating the best operating mode 160 times a second. Capable of up to 50 million calculations per second, the system works to maintain an ideal balance between fuel economy and performance.
The 120-volt lithium-ion battery weighs less than most other batteries and takes up less space, but has high energy density for its size. As a result, it can be installed in the engine compartment, so the car's ample trunk capacity and spacious interior are not affected. The lithium-ion battery has high-strength steel housing, a separate cooling circuit, and its cells sit in a special gel that dampens any jolts and vibration.
Characterized as a "mild hybrid," the S400 HYBRID's gasoline engine and electric motor work together for responsive performance, and its driveline includes a specially configured seven-speed automatic transmission, a transformer to power the 12-volt vehicle system and intelligent operating electronics. The disc-shaped electric motor is mounted in the torque converter housing, between the engine and transmission.
The hybrid system includes a convenient start-stop function that turns off the gasoline engine below nine mph when braking to a stop. When the S400 HYBRID is at a traffic light, for example, the gasoline engine is off, but the AC compressor and steering pump are operated electrically, so air conditioning and power steering are fully operational. When the brakes are released, the gasoline engine is started automatically, and works with the electric motor for seamless performance.
During braking, the electric motor acts as a generator, recovering kinetic energy and storing it in the lithium-ion battery. Under heavy braking, the vehicle's conventional brakes also come into play. Recovered energy is stored in the battery and re-used whenever the electric motor is running.
The S400 HYBRID has the same interior room, luxury and convenience features as other S-Class vehicles. The hybrid model is differentiated by unique ten-spoke 18-inch wheels and HYBRID logos on the trunk lid and dash as well as BlueEfficency badging on the front fenders. A special hybrid pictogram within the speedometer shows the energy flow, energy recovery and battery charge.
240 hp at 3,600 RPM
455 ft-lbs 1,600 ~ 2,400 RPM
4,750 RPM redline.
(European version: 235 hp, 398 ft-lbs).
2,987cc 72º V6 Turbo Diesel mit urea injection; 7-gallon AdBlue (urea) tank replaces the spare tire.
4 valves per cylinder.
83mm bore x 92mm stroke.
15.5:1 compression ratio.
7.0s 0-60 MPH, 7.8s 0-100 kmph.
130 MPH electronically-limited top speed.
21/25/31 MPG EPA.
All S350s oddly include 4-MATIC all-wheel drive.
The S350 has plenty of power for normal use, is silent and smooth, and uses much less fuel than any of the others — but people don't own an S-Klasse to worry about fuel cost.
For most people who drive an S-Klasse, the S350 is the best choice after the S550. The S550 and the others all have twice as much power as anyone needs, while the S350 uses much less fuel and has all the power you'd need 99% of the time.
2.1 litre 4-cylinder Turbo Diesel.
149 MPH top speed.
8.2s 0-100 kmph (0-62 MPH).
Power & Performance (2012 ~ 2013)
4.9 seconds 0-60 MPH.
13.3 seconds standing quarter mile.
6,400 RPM redline.
429 hp @ 5,250 RPM.
516 ft-lbs at 1,800~3,500 RPM (443 ft-lbs from 1,600-4,750 RPM.)
Cruise control works up to 120 MPH.
Speed limiter set to 130 MPH; otherwise top speed would be 160 MPH.
EPA fuel consumption 15/19/25 MPG city/combined/highway.
(13.8/8.7 l/100km in Canada.)
Engine (MY2012 ~ today)
Engine Bay, Mercedes S550. bigger.
4,663cc (284.6 CID) direct-injection DOHC VVT biturbo V-8 Benzin-Direkteinspritzung Direkteinspritzmotor.
Up to 12.9 PSI (0.9 bar) of turbo boost.
429 hp at 5,250 RPM.
516 ft-lbs at 1,800~3,600 RPM.
6,500 RPM redline.
92.9 mm bore x 86.0 mm stroke.
4 valves per cylinder.
10.5:1 compression ratio.
DOHC: Dual Overhead Camshafts, total of four.
VVT: Variable Valve Timing for optimum performance at every speed.
Aluminum cylinder heads.
Aluminum pistons with crowns 4mm thicker than the previous non-turbo models.
Shorter connecting rods than before to allow the same cylinder block size.
Aluminum block with cast-in Silitec silicon aluminum cylinder liners.
Special forged steel crankshaft, connecting rods and valves.
Model M278, MB approval 229.5.
This new direct-injected turbocharged engine increases power and torque over the previous 5.5 litre V8, increases overall efficiency 20%, decreases CO2 emissions from 288 to 224 grams per kilometre and improves EPA fuel economy by 22 percent to 25 MPG highway.
Cams and Timing
Three timing chains: one main chain drives two satellites, one per cylinder bank.
Mounted on the ends of the intake and exhaust camshafts, the hydraulic camshaft adjusters that vary valve timing are 35 percent faster than in the past, and with a wider range of 40 crankshaft degrees. Despite their improved performance, they're more than a half inch smaller in height and width.
Smaller valve timing adjusters are made possible by a revised cam chain drive system, in which the crankshaft drives an intermediate shaft above the crank. In turn, the intermediate shaft drives two short chains – one for each cylinder bank – that loop around the intake and exhaust camshaft drive sprockets.
Fuel Injection System
Fuel is injected directly into each cylinder.
Direct injection makes this engine more efficient than when fuel is injected into the intake ports or intake manifold as it's done in other cars.
Multiple injection, up to 5 per stroke.
Piezo-ceramic crystalline element injectors, 100 µS response time, few microns precision.
Up to 200 bar fuel injection pressure.
Multi spark, up to 4 sparks in 1 ms, which adds up to 4% fuel savings.
Homogeneous stratified combustion (HOS), a combination of homogeneous lean-burn and classic stratified combustion.
The first injection is sprayed into the intake stroke, forming a homogeneous basic mixture. Actual "stratified" injection takes place during the compression stroke before ignition, and is a single or double injection depending on the characteristic map.
Twin turbochargers are welded to the sheet-metal manifolds on each cylinder bank.
One turbocharger per cylinder bank.
The turbochargers are able to withstand working temperatures up to 1050º C.
0.9 bar (12.9 PSI) turbo boost at 150,000 RPM.
Turbos on the outside and intercoolers are inside the V of the two cylinder banks.
Honeywell turbochargers are made in Torrance, California (a.k.a. Garrett AiResearch).
The starting system remembers the crank position to light the best cylinder first.
Chain-drive oil pump with two pressure stages.
A fourth chain drives a variable vane-type oil pump in the bottom of the engine. The latest chain drive results in less tension and lower chain dynamics, for even lower friction and less noise.
At low engine speed and load, the oil pump only generates about 28 psi (two bar) of oil pressure, and nozzles that spray cooling oil on the pistons are inactive. As engine speed and load increases, oil pressure rises, and the oil spray nozzles are turned on. In this way, less energy is used when less cooling and lubrication is needed.
Even the cooling system is significantly refined in the new direct-injection engine, beginning with a two-stage flow circuit through the cylinder head. This improved coolant flow results in better heat dissipation, despite lower coolant pressure, so that the water pump uses less engine power.
A three-phase cooling system helps the engine warm up very quickly. When the engine is first started, no coolant circulates. Then, as the engine warms up, coolant begins to circulate within the engine, but not through the radiator. Only when the coolant temperature reaches 221 degrees Fahrenheit (or 189 degrees F. under high load), coolant also circulates through the radiator. Coolant circulation through the heating system for the car's interior is controlled separately.
The engine was run for 52,000 hours in the laboratory and spent 4 million miles on the road before Mercedes released it.
7 speed automatic, except 5-speeds with the V-12 engines.
7-speed transmissions have lock-up torque converters and use special blue-colored FE-ATF low-viscosity automatic transmission fluid.
* Won't go this fast.
* Please don't go this fast in reverse.
Final Drive Ratio
S550, S350, S63: 2.65:1.
S600, S65: 3.82:1.
Wheels & Tires
5 x 112 bolt pattern.
17mm lug nut heads.
8.5 x 18" wheels.
Load & Speed: 99Y
UTOG tread wear and grades: 500 AAA.
769 revolutions per mile
1,708 pounds maximum load at 51 PSI.
255/40 R 19 front.
275/40 R 19 rear.
Sport Plus One Option
255/35 R 20 front.
275/35 R 20 rear.
13.2" diameter x 1.3" (32mm) thick ventilated discs, front.
11.8" diameter x 0.45' (12mm) thick ventilated discs, front.
12mm tow hook thread.
2.8 turns lock-to-lock.
17.83:1 steering ratio.
40.03' turning radius.
206.5" (5,250mm) long.
124.6" (1,479mm) wheelbase.
83.5" (2,120mm) wide with mirrors.
73.7" wide with mirrors folded.
58.0" (635mm) high.
5.75" ground clearance.
62.9" front track.
63.2" rear track.
40.0' (12.20m) turning circle.
Mercedes S550 cashmere leather and burl walnut trim interior. bigger.
Cabin volume: 125.0 cubic feet.
Headroom 37.8" front, 38.5" rear.
Legroom 41.9" front, 42.3" rear.
Shoulder room 59.1" (1,502 mm) front, 58.7" (1,491mm) rear.
Climate controlled glove box.
Covered, lined storage in center front console and each front door.
Rear pull-out center console.
16.4 cubic feet.
Power open and power close, also manual close.
23.8 gallons (90 litres).
Reserve light comes on at 2.9 gallons (11 litres).
12 volts DC.
German-made AGM Varta battery.
Clever fuel-saving charging system that waits for deceleration to charge.
S550: 4,740 pounds (2,150 kg).
S550 4MATIC: 4,861 pounds.
S350: 4,784 pounds.
S400: 4,630 pounds.
S600: 4,960 pounds.
S63: 4,916 pounds.
S65: 5,082 pounds.
Diamond White (code 799; shown here)
Cashmere/Savanna with Savanna/Cashmere contrast stitching (as shown here)
Black with Chestnut Brown contrast stitching
Ash/Grey with Grey/Ash contrast stitching
Sahara Beige/Black with Chestnut Brown contrast stitching
Mercedes makes about 75,000 a year.
Made in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Comfort & Convenience
Doors & Windows
All 4 doors and the trunk have automatic power closers; close it partway and a motor pulls it closed.
All 4 power windows have automatic full-open and full-close settings; ditto for the sunroof.
Master all-open and all-close commands by holding the open or close button or door handle.
The trunk is remote-controlled for both opening and closing.
Active drive-dynamic control while cornering
Multicontour; so adjustable you can slide the huge bottom cushion so far forward that even a 6-foot tall man's legs won't fit.
Dual HD widescreen displays:
One for the center speedometer display
The other for the navigation and video display
The center console screen is motorized and can be set to pivot either left or right from its standard position.
Backlit steering wheel buttons
Climate controlled glove box
Four illuminated vanity mirrors.
Soundproof double-laminated glass
Metallic glass coatings to reflect heat and protect against electronic intrusion
Adjustable ambient interior lighting
Wood/Leather Steering Wheel
Analog dashboard clock is an "homage to the 1950s Mercedes 300S."
Power Rear Sunshade
HVAC knows which seats are occupied, and cools them first
Dust, pollen and odor filters
Fully automatic control and regulation with separate left and right fan controls.
Selectable footwell temperature offset; keep your feet cooler or warmer if you like.
Parallel parking space-finder and assistance.
PARKTRONIC SONAR distance sensors front and rear.
Automatic electronically actuated and released parking brake
Brake Assist Plus
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
The ATTENTION ASSIST driver drowsiness monitor, standard on all S-Class except the S400 HYBRID, can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S. A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving.
Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning, and a "Time for a rest?" message with a coffee cup icon appears in the instrument cluster.
Standard on all S-Class models except the S400 HYBRID, a Torque Vectoring feature within the ESP stability control system is specifically designed to sharpen steering response during spirited driving. When sharp, aggressive steering inputs from the driver are sensed, brief braking pulses at the inside rear wheel help pivot the vehicle and improve active handling.
Adaptive self-leveling air suspension
Xenon high & low beam headlights
Additional 55W H11 halogen high beams.
Automatic on/off control
Clear plastic covers, not glass.
Tucker-style automatic steering headlights
Automatic LED cornering lights
Adaptive high beam control: automatically selects high or low beams based on other traffic.
Entertainment & Navigation
Voice control for all, including navigation.
Harmon Kardon Logic 7 Sound System
Rated 600 watts and 15 drivers for 5.1 channels.
Center tweeter in dash
I still haven't found the other three drivers.
AM FM Weather band radio
Sirius Satellite Radio
Six-slot disk player. Plays CD, DVD-A and DVD video.
iPod connector in glove box. 30-pin standard; easy to order a lightning version from eBay.
SD card reader for MP3 and m4a music files.
3.5mm analog stereo input
Bluetooth car phone connection
Bang & Olufsen audio system
4-MATIC all-wheel drive.
Active infra-red night vision.
Rear-looking RADAR blind-zone alerts.
Distronic RADAR-controlled cruise control slows the S550 down as needed to stay a safe distance behind the guy in front of you.
Distronic RADAR-controlled brakes at up to -4 m/s2 (13 ft/s2), or about 40% of maximum braking. 1G =9.8 m/s2, thus Distronic works up to -0.41G, is someone swerves in front of you.
SPLITVIEW: driver and passenger can see entirely different things on the same center screen. Driver can see navigation and control the car while the wife watches a movie, for instance.
Power-adjusted rear seats.
Rear seat entertainment screens, or iPad holders.
Driver Assistance Package ($2,950)
DISTRONIC PLUS with PRE-SAFE® Brake
Sport Package ($5,900)
All Season Tires
Sport Package Plus One ($6,550)
High Performance Tires
Lane Departure Warning
Active Lane Keeping Assist recognizes lane markings (thanks to a multi-purpose camera in the windshield and a computer that analyzes the images) and alerts the driver by simulating rumble strip vibrations in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on.
Blind Spot RADAR
Active Blind Spot Assist monitors both blind spots behind the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings. Both Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist now incorporate an intervention feature, in which ESP braking automatically helps correct the car's course if the driver doesn't heed the initial warning.
S-Class models with optional ABC active suspension come with a crosswind stabilization feature that's part of the ABC system software. If the car is affected by a crosswind, in a split-second, ABC uses its servo pistons at each wheel strut to change wheel load distribution and stabilize the car. The ABC crosswind stabilization feature depends on networked signals from the ESP yaw and lateral acceleration sensors.
Rear Seat Package ($3,040)
Heated and Active Ventilated Rear Seats
Rear Seat Entertainment Package ($2,450)
Rear Seat Entertainment System
Heated steering wheel ($490)
Active Body Control ($4,090)
Panorama sunroof ($1,090)
Night View Assist PLUS with pedestrian detection ($1,780)
Bang & Olufsen BeoSound premium sound system ($6,400)
The front seats are the best ever put in a car as I've covered above.
They massage brilliantly, they are ventilated, heated and adjustable in too many ways to list.
They are the most comfortabel seats in which I've ever sat, even more comfortable than the seats in our 2014 S550 with the Nappa Leather option.
The rear seats are sumptuous. They don't need any adjustments, but you can get many of the features of the front seats as an option.
The only whine I have about the S550 is that the pockets on the back of the front seats are too shallow to hold anything, and that these pockets are made out of vinyl, not full-grain leather as they are on the 1997-2002 E-Klasse.
The big, solid aluminum COMAND knob is awesome. It electrodynamically stops at the ends of menus.
The speedometer looks like the other gauges - but it's drawn on an LCD screen!
The center console opens from either side.
The trunk opens and closes much faster than a GL550 hatch
Dimmed gauges flicker at an impercepbly high rate, and they all flicker alike.
PARK is on the speedo LCD so is never as bright as a real warning light.
No backup camera at first.
THere's no traffic data when you first head out; it takes a few minutes to receive it.
All the fonts on the LCD screens are Corporate S.
The turbocharged 4.6L V8 is a torquer, with loads of boost active at low RPMs.
There is no lag; the turbochargers are always spinning. Tapping the accelerator lightly doesn't need to kick-down; the engine has so much torque that it doesn't need to.
You'll rarely need more than 2,000 RPM, and at 3,000 RPM you're really flying —‚ and redline is 6,400 RPM.
There is some turbo whine, but only heard outside the S550 or if you hear it reflected from a wall with your windows open. The turbos are running even at idle as you start the powerplant.
There is a mild Diesel sound from engine audible at idle only from outside the S550. This is from the direct injection system.
The headlights are superb: big, broad and bright. Everything it lit from curb to curb.
The automatic high beam control is too cautious; it turns off the high beams if it see a traffic signal or a bright sign.
As hoped, the interior lighting is also superb.
When the doors are open, incandescent lamps illuminate everting with a 100% color rendering index. The light is warm and inviting.
There is programmable ambient lighting while you drive at night. I prefer amber, which is wonderful; you also can select white or blue in an menu, as well as set its brightness.
The volume control is a roller to the right of the COMAND knob. Pushing it does nothing; I wish it muted. There are also up/down volume buttons on the steering wheel.
There are no dedicated next/back buttons; you control this in either of two screens with either of two shared controls (see Usage).
The standard Harmon Kardon system sounds great; much better than the tinny but loud systems in other Mercedes.
In fact, I've never heard a better automotive sound system; the 1991-1999 W140 probably had bigger bass, but this S550's smoothness, detail and superb spatial imaging win out.
This Harmon Kardon system is smooth and detailed, and having five woofers, has plenty of deep and smooth bass.
It's strong to 30 Hz, and still clean at 18 cycles! It uses its 16.4 cubic foot trunk to develop deep bass, something hatchbacks and SUVs can't do.
The tone controls are somewhat subtle and tend to control too much of the spectrum. I wish there was a 33-band EQ, which would be easy to control with the COMAND knob, but there isn't.
Connecting an IPod cancels the analog 3.5mm AUX input. With an iPod connected, the AUX input is grayed-out.
The radio keeps playing after you turn off the S550 and are still sitting. It stays on as you get out and turns off when you lock the door from the outside.
20 presets means you always need two keystrokes to recall them.
You don't even need an iPod; you can load your music on a memory card and use that. The advantage of an iPod is that you can search by artist, playlist, composer, genre & etc., while with the same files on an SD card all you can do is play them by folder.
The S550 Media Interface works great with the ancient iPod nano I pulled from the trash; no need to buy a new iPod to stick in the glove box.
The rear camera is relatively fuzzy and blocky.
It's a color camera and highly sensiotvie to infra-red, so colors can look a bit weird at night.
The analog clock clicks ahead once each minute.
Its backlight doesn't flicker as dimmed.
It's automatically set via GPS time.
It's usually 1 to 3 seconds slow.
Oddly you have to set or cancel daylight saving's time manually in the menu system.
The charging system is new, tending to charge mostly when decelerating to save fuel.
It tries not to charge while you're idling or accelerating, and waits to charge mostly during downhills, braking or deceleration.
Since the battery is charged — or not — depending on the engine's load, the system voltage varies from about 12.5 V when accelerating to about 12.8 V during cruise and up to 14.9 V when charging while coasting, braking or decelerating.
The system can generate enough power to run the voltage up to 14.8 V even at idle, which it will do several seconds after starting to replace the power drawn for starting. Mercedes owners tend to live atop hills, so if you roll down a hill from your home, the S550 has pretty much replaced the battery's charge used to start the engine by the time you get to the bottom of your hill.
Like a hybrid, it's effectively using regenerative energy to recharge the starter battery so it doesn't have to while cruising or accelerating — but the system voltage is wandering all over the place as you drive. Of course the S550's systems are designed to work with these varying bus voltages, so nothing ever dims or brightens while driving.
BMW calls this charging scheme EfficientDynamics. I have no idea if the fuel saved makes up for the strain to the battery and charging system having to "burst" charge instead of simply float-charging as lead-acid batteries prefer in most other cars.
The radio (COMAND system) shuts off at about 11.3V if you're playing it without the engine running.
Versus the 1991-1999 S-Klasse (W140)
The 1991-1999 S-Klasse has always been one of my favorites; I still remember its introduction. This is probably the last S-Klasse where Mercedes' engineers had no budget limits and went crazy on everything.
For instance, it has dual-pane glass with air space between the two sheets! This was done both for sound proofing as well as temperature insulation. It also has real wool carpeting and real glass headlights.
It usually is seen in the USA as the V8 S500 (315 hp/347 ft-lbs) or the V12 S600. There was also a smaller 275 hp/295 ft-lb S420 V8, and rarely seen as the model-end short wheelbase inline-6 228 hp S320.
It has a superior Bose Beta sound system, probably the best I've ever heard in a car. It has a dash slot for cassettes with Dolby B and C, and a trunk-mounted 6-CD changer.
It has real orange-pointer gauges
It has options for either a portable or a mobile phone. Back then, only Mercedes people had mobile phones. The mobile phone option is a powerful and permanent part of the S-Klasse, while the portable phone option was a stand-alone portable phone you could take with you when you left the car.
This S-Klasse is remarkable for how far ahead it pushed beyond every other car at the time and it's still safe, powerful and comfortable today — if you can find a properly conserved sample.
205.2" long (S320: 201.3")
41' turning circle (S320: 39.9')
0.32 cd coefficient of drag
S500: 4,700 lbs
112.4 cu. ft. passenger compartment
14.2 cu. ft. trunk
Versus the 2000-2006 S-Klasse (W220)
The 2000 ~ 2006 S-Klasse was a disappointment; it was cost-cutting gone mad. It's made with much cheaper materiels and much more plastic than the previous 1991-1999 W140. It has plastic headlights that yellow with exposure to the sun and uses two, not one, windshield wiper. At least its brochure still uses real paint samples.
It had a portable (removable) phone option, but no fixed mobile phone option — no one used car phones anymore.
It has a nice Bose Beta 2 sound system with a 10" rear-deck mounted neodymium woofer and a trunk-mounted 6 CD changer
It uses the same great gauge layout as the next 2007-2013 W221, but with real orange needles (no LCD screens on the dashboard).
S55 AMG Blown 5.5 Litre V8: 4.6s 0-60 MPH, 14/22 MPG EPA.
73.0" wide without mirrors
39.7' turning circle
0.27 cd coefficient of drag
105.0 cu. ft. passenger room
15.4 cu. ft. trunk
This 2007-2013 S-Klasse (W221)
This is the car reviewed here, which started shiping in February 2006 as a 2007 model.
Mercedes felt the backlash over the discount feel of the previous W220, and seriously stepped up its game with much better materials. Mercedes famously brags about its all-metal buttons, knobs and switches. This car's big silver COMAND knob is solid billet aluminum, as well as all the other silver levers and buttons.
The W221 also got a bigger, more powerful 5.5 litre 4-valve engine over the previous 5 litre 3-valve S500.
The real kicker is in 2012, when the W221 got the same biturbo direct injection engine used today; it added power, torque and speed and uses less fuel! This new 4.7 litre biturbo engine has the same torque as the previous supercharged AMG 5.5 litre engine: 516 foot-pounds.
Versus the 2014-present S-Klasse (W222)
The newest S-Klasse is a minor cost reduction from the W221 reviewed here, with flat plastic buttons replacing many of the metal controls of the W221. The big COMAND knob seems like plastic, and the buttons surrounding it are now just flat plastic.
The W222 has a cheaper overall feel, just a lazy redo of the previously fresh W221 interior design with plastic dash buttons. It uses cheesy plastic seat back pouches.
The center console is now plastic, not metal laid in wood.
The biggest gotcha is that the new W222 copies its styling and gauges from the lesser models. It has a foolish door crease and other already aging styling inspired by the Hyundai Elantra and Mercedes' own cheap A-class.
The biggest problem with the newest W222 is that there's too much chrome in the cabin. The interior looks about the same as in the cheap CLA. The S-Klasse owner demands quiet perfection; he isn't a high school sophomore out to impress kids. The W222 makes my head hurt with all its chrome. It's great for headbangers, but not for the people who buy the S-Klasse.
You can't get a tan interior with a brown dashboard, only tan with a black dashboard. I need light and bright; I don't want any black in my interior.
The gauges are simply an LCD screen that looks the same as Mercedes' lesser cars, not the simple perfection which has been the hallmark of S-Klasse gauges for decades. Fuel and temperature are now shown as small percentages, not as simple gauges. The LCD only shows two gauges: speed and tachometer.
The W222 uses the same brilliant turbo powerplant as the 2012-2013 W221
The biggest headline feature of the W222 is a Febreze-style air freshener.
The price goes up in the W222; what was standard in 2013 like ventilated and massage seats, PARKTRONIC and Keyless Go are no longer included as standard equipment.
The Panorama roof is now standard.
The W222 uses no real light bulbs; everything, even the headlights, are LEDs. I prefer the warm glow of real light bulbs over the nasty coolness of most LEDs.
The W222 dumbs-down the control stalks. The cruise control lever is now too short and moved for the first time since probably the 1960s to a place that it doesn't belong.
There's no spare tire! Mercedes gives you a can of fix-a-flat and a pump, or run flat tires, but not both.
The engine stalls when stopped, which is Mercedes' "ECO " mode. It restarts when you take your foot off the brake.
The new W222 has almost the same sizes:
124.6" wheelbase, exactly the same as the W221.
0.2" wider and 0.2" shorter than the W221.
0.7" taller than the W221.
41.4" front / 43.0" rear legroom
39.7" front / 39.2" rear headroom
59.7" front / 59.1" rear shoulder room.
18.7 cu ft trunk is larger than W221, but it's smaller in the hybrid and V12 versions.
Versus the S-Klasse Convertible
Rumor has it a convertible S-Klasse is coming.
This will be cool, but the problem is that the rear seats are too small for adults, so if it's not luxurious, why bother?
This may be awesome for folks with kids like me, but not for people who want to carry four adults in S-Klasse bliss.
Versus the 2016 E-Klasse
I was very disappointed. The E-class used to be as well made as the S, but no longer. The 2016 E feels like a rental car, with plastic everywhere. The E-class isn't luxury anymore, but it's also much less expensive than before.
In the 1980s an E class cost about $50,000 in 1980s dollars, which is the equivalent of $100,000 today. Today's E class sells for only about half of what it used to.
My 2002 E430 is much nicer than the new ones.
BMW has nowhere near the experience or expertise of Mercedes; BMW started out making airplane engines and then motorcycles and only got around to cars in the century after Mercedes.
BMW lacks the service we take for granted. Drive into the Mercedes dealer with any problem, and he hands you a free Mercedes loaner while your S550 is worked on. With BMW, who knows?
BMWs are mostly for children, or for women without boyfriends.
Bentley started in the century after Mercedes in 1919, never really invented anything important, and went out of business in 1931.
They were then bought by Rolls Royce.
Versus Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce started in 1909, 24 years behind Mercedes, and likewise never really invented anything.
Rolls Royce went nearly bankrupt in 1971, was taken over by the government, and then sold in 1980.
In 1998 various legal parts of Rolls Royce were sold to Volkswagen and BMW.
As of today, Rolls Royces are made by and simply a brand of BMW, and Bentleys are simply made by and a brand of Volkswagen
Neither Bentley nor Rolls Royce exist anymore as independent car makers; they're long gone even though the brands are still seen on cars.
Mercedes has always been the world's first and always an independent car maker; when you get a Mercedes, you're getting the real thing.
Versus the 1971 Plymouth 426 Hemi Barracuda
The 1971 Hemi 'Cuda was one of, if not the, hottest rod of the 1960s. Today convertible versions may sell for a million dollars to collectors.
It was hugely fast in its day, but not today.
The 2013 S550 is almost a second faster to 60 MPH and 0.7 seconds faster in the standing quarter!
Motor Trend reported a 5.8s 0-60 time in its May 1970 issue, along with a 13s 0-100 and 14s standing quarter at 102 MPH.
Top speed? Try 117 MPH for the Cuda, versus at least 130 MPH from the S550 — along with the brakes and suspension you'd need.
The 426 Hemi only put out 350 hp net as we measure it today (425 gross) at 5,000 RPM. To get to 500 hp required a blower, and usually blew the engine after a few runs.
The Hemi only has about 400 foot-pounds of net torque (490 ft lb. gross) peaking at 4,000 RPM. The S550's torque is 516 ft-lbs net, and flat from 1,800 to 3,500 RPM.
And check this out: the Hemi needs race gas and has a compression ratio of 10.25:1, and has no blower. The S550 has 0.9 bar (12.9 PSI) of boost, runs on unleaded premium, and has a 10.5:1 ratio.
The Barracuda has a shorter 108" wheelbase and is only 186.6" long.
It's a small car weighing less and has only a 7.1 cu. ft. trunk, and it's made poorly compared to a Mercedes.
So much for 1960s hot rods; modern German iron trounces them — along with superior comfort, handling and efficiency.
2011 GL550 EPA 12/14/17 5,545 pounds, 14.5 lbs/hp
GL550 2011: 383hp @ 6,000, 391 ft-lb 2800-4800, 5,461cc 333.3 CID M273
2013 S550 EPA 15/19/25, 4,740 lbs., 11.05 lbs/hp
2002 E430 EPA 16/18/23 (was 17/20/24), 3,757 lbs., 275 hp, 13.66 lbs/hp
1997 SL500 EPA 14/16/21 (was 15/18/23), 4,165 lbs, 315 hp, 13.2 lbs/hp
1997 SL500 Michelin Pilot 225/55ZR16, 806 revs/mile.
It's not too difficult to figure out; press the talking man button on your steering wheel and go for it.
There is no online version of the Voice Control manual.
You'll have to look for the printed copy along with your other manuals.
To set map display options, press big COMMAND knob IN when you see the map. Otherwise you can't get the NAVI drop down option to drop down with your map options.
There are no obvious or dedicated next/back buttons.
To control playback, you have to be sure you're in the right menu either on the COMAND central screen for which you control tracks with the huge COMAND knob, or select Audio with the steering wheel controls to use the other steering wheel buttons to advance or retard the tracks.
To control this on the steering wheel, press the left and right arrows on the left side of the steering wheel to get to the AUDIO menu. Now you can hit the up and down arrows on the left side of the steering wheel to select next and back.
Enter frequency via the egg or menu system.
Playing Music from SD Cards
Manual says no AAC from SD CARD, but reads .M4A just fine. Shows ALC files in menu system, but Won't play them (ALC uses .m4a suffix). Ignores JPG and AIF files.
HINT: Format card in a camera first; otherwise it says "no playable files" if format card in Mac.
Cards lack the playlist, genre, artist, composer etc data you can access with the same files in an iPod or iPhone.
You set them by pressing the "seats" button above the huge COMAND knob, just to the right of the ▲ hazard flasher button.
No dynamic cornering seats if the side bolsters are puffed-up all the way
Fat-man Easy-entry seats page 115; turn off.
"✻" is a programmable COMAND button set in Vehicle > System > Favorites Button, but the only options seem to be to start the massaging seats.
Reset as a new car
RESET: Vehicle > System > Reset > YES
Vault-locking for trunk or glove box with hard key
Hold the remote LOCK or UNLOCK buttons to open or close all the windows and sunroof. Can hold the small section on the door handle to close everything, too. The trunk doesn't close this way; you still have to close it separately.
If you left the motor running, it won't lock the doors.
mbrace can lock and unlock remotely. If you lock remotly but left your trunk open, it will leave it open and lock the four doors.
While Mercedes says to hols the trunk switch for 50 seconds after it receives the Unlock command, keep holding it. I had to hold it for 60 seconds and the trunk opened.
Dual Screen SPLITVIEW Vehicle > Splitview
Vehicle > System > Text Reader > Text Reader Speed
External Bluetooth pairing p.153 and 201 if it can't auto detect
Vehicle > System > Language
p. 147 Day/Night displays
p. 155 "entry restriction" option to lockout nav
p. 156 set DYNAMIC ROUTE to auto route around traffic. Explains other fast/Eco etc. options.
p. 175 routing around traffic jams
p. 180 nav icons explained
p. 189 map displays NAVI > Navi > Text Information on Map > (select geo coordinates)
p 190: Topo display NAVI > Topographical map. 3D display: NAVI > City (3D)
p. 192 Compass: [TELE/NAVI], press COMAND knob > select Position > press knob > select Compass and press knob
p 200 pair phone: phone > Data/connections > Bluetooth phones > options > authorize
201 external authorize [TELE/NAV] Data/connections > Bluetooth phones > update > options > external authorization. Now start looking on the phone, select MB Bluetooth, type keys on both ends and answer yes.
p 205: phone voicemail: set VM on preset 1 on the phone
p. 216 swap AM/FM: use COMAND knob
p. 227 plays DVD-A
p. 227 plays WMA MP3 but not AAC
p. 234 no 8cm CDs
p. 235 HDD only stores files already encoded as MP3 or WMA, can't store from CD
p. 243 USB inputs
p 244 no gain trim on 3.5mm analog (AUX) input
p 266 ECO mode: Vehicle > ECO; also auto folding mirror option. (p 310: The ECO start/stop function is only available for the S 63 AMG.)
p. 268 Settings > Lights > Ambient Light Color > Solar (orange)/Neutral (white)/Polar (blue); also can set intensity
p. 271 MONO HVAC control
p 273 air blower Focussed/Medium/Diffuse really means Hi/Med/Low for air vents.
p276 dynamic seats select press [seat icon button next to hazard flasher ] > Dynamic Seat
p 277 massage adjustments.
p 277-278 CAR SETTINGS COPY and DOWNLOAD! Aha! Stores nav memories, address book, radio and video presets, system settings. do this by VEHICLE > SYSTEM > UP/Download data > Copy days to storage medium > Start copying
280 headlight switch: daytime running lights on in even at O position.
281 daytime running lamps off by default, turn on in menus. In Auto, runs high beams in day and swaps to low beams at night.
282 pull 2 stops for rear fog if you have front fog, or one click if you don't. Front fog indicator is green. Rear fog indicator is amber. Headlights cleaned once every 5 washer activations while the engine and lights are on; resets counter each time you turn off the car so you won't get squirted very often.
283 hazard lights come on automatically if you suddenly stop from above 45mph. Turn off automatically when you start moving above 6mph
284 cornering lights:
0-25mph (0-40kmph): turn wheel or use signals
25-45mph (40~70kmph): turn wheel
Goes off after 3 minutes
284-285 High beam assist: dynamically adapts low beams and switches high beams. Turn on in menus p. 388 (Settings > adapt. High beam assist > on), set switch to A and push lever to high. You'll see (beam with A) on cluster if system turns on low beams.
With assist off the high beams do what you tell them, with it on, does its magic only when you push to high. In other words, assist dims the brights automatically for you if you just leave them on all the time.
Alters low beams when driving above 28mph (45kmph)
Above 35mph (55kmph) will turn on high beams if it sees no one.
Below 30mph (45kmph) turns off high beams if the road is bright enough or if it sees others; dashboard high beam indicator turns off while the (beam A) indicator stays lit.
285 interior light settings
28t rear seats have a switch that controls both their overall light and their reading spot light.
287 headlight bulbs, takes H7 55W high beam w/o LED running lights, USA takes H11 55W
289 windshield wiper settings. Wiper changing. Never open hood with wipers pulled out.
303 glove box air vent
310 (328) parking brake releases automatically
316 do not shift into N while rolling!
317 [ E - S ] economy (2nd gear start) or sport transmission and suspension modes
329 auto parking brake. OK to park up to 4 weeks, otherwise trickle charge. Don't park more than 6 weeks, even with a charger.
332 "Braking maneuvers triggered automatically by ESP® may seriously damage the brake system.' ?
334 Cruise also uses brakes. Downshift to help it downhill. What?
346 HOLD function: press brake, then quickly press further.
347 all have AIRMATIC. Controls ride height; lowers above 60mph. Top dash stack button allows manual lowering or raising.
348 ABC lowers car when parked. Second dash button from top says ABC if you have it; or just a picture of a shock and SPORT with an LED if you don't.
350 PARKTRONIC works at up to 11mph.
352 Front PARKTRONIC shown on dash; thin horizontal line shows it as active. Third button on dash stack turns it off.
353-357 parking guidance
359 attention assist, works 50~112mph (80~180 kmph)
360 night vision; little moon icon to left of headlight switch if you have it.
375 fuel cut off if over revved
378 shows a car and gas pump instead of a number when your gas range gets too low.
386 set attention assist by setting DriveAssist > Attention Assist
387 Daytime running lights, auto high beams etc.
p 388 Adaptive high beams, auto seat belt adjustment and door lock beeps
389 RADAR on/off
411 picture of gas pump is low fuel; picture of car and pump is no fuel!
422 mentions charge error warning for the auxiliary battery for transmission.
439 glove box vault lock
442 secret bullion (suitcase) storage in trunk
447 12V sockets all rated 180W 15A. Sockets cut off if battery gets too low. Seems to need key in position one.
448 12V socket in glove box, rear center console and trunk. 115V 150W in rear center console. Won't work with high inrush current.
449 115V only on when trunk 12V is on. Rated 150W. Has power light. Cuts off if too or or battery low.
454 send address from Google maps to Nav system.
455 remote lock and unlock, works up to 4 days since last lock.
457 program door opener
463 leave wipers down if opening hood. Hood has struts that lift it once you've lifted it 15." Close hood by dropping from 8." Normal to burn 1.5 quarts of oil per 1,000 miles.
464 have to use a dipstick! (Except V-12) on V12, key in position 2, PRESS > or < on steering wheel to select SERVICE menu, ENGINE OIL LEVEL, OK
467 coolant level
460 never use touchless car washes, they use nasty chemicals.
473 graphite coated wiper blades lets them glide over glass
476 interior trim is anodized aluminum, not chrome, so don't use chrome polish. Avoid microfiber for cleaning leather.
478 tool and first aid kits.
483 lug bolts 110 ft-lbs
486 maximum permissible battery charger voltage is 14.8 V
490 towing: max distance 30 miles/50km. Max speed 30 mph 50 kmph. Use key in lock; with keyless go will shift to park when door opened. Turnoff auto lock!
493 fuse box locations
495 fuses to pull for engine shutdown
505 tire pressure monitors
524 tire sizes; use 255/45 R18 99 H M+S
530 VIN locations
532 3% max methanol. 10% ethanol
537 use MB washer fluid as not to damage headlights. Don't use distilled or DI water in washer; will damage level sensor.
There is no online version of the Voice Control manual.
July 2009 Motor Trend comparison.
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