Market success: Number One in the luxury segment

  • 270,000 units sold since the market launch in 2005
  • The eight-cylinder S 500 is the bestselling model
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains unbeatable in the luxury class: with 270,000 units of the current W 221 series sold since its market launch in autumn 2005,
it is the world's most successful luxury saloon. And as the trendsetter where innovative automobile engineering is concerned, it is seamlessly continuing the success story of its predecessors. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "The S-Class is the worldwide market leader. Thanks to innovative technology, first-class comfort and trailblazing safety systems, the Mercedes-Benz flagship model is seen as a pioneer in automobile development."
A dozen technical innovations entered series production for the first time in the W 221 series - from Brake Assist PLUS with radar sensors to the dynamic multicontour seat with an extended massage function, from Night View Assist with infrared technology to the improved COMAND system, from preventive PRE‑SAFE® occupant protection with additional functions to the Active Body Control suspension. The 2009 S-Class likewise leads the field in automotive development with a unique combination of radar and camera-based assistance systems, plus the first series-production hybrid drive system with a lithium-ion battery in the S 400 HYBRID.
Most important markets: United States, China and Germany
Accounting for one quarter of total unit sales, the United States of America are the largest market for the S-Class, followed by China. A major contribution to the success of the S-Class in China was made by the introduction in June 2008 of the S 350 4MATIC specifically configured to meet the wishes of Chinese customers. After the USA and China, the German home market is the third-largest market for the S-Class.
The most popular variant is the eight-cylinder S 500, which accounts for almost half of all worldwide sales, followed by the six-cylinder S 350 and the diesel-powered S 320 CDI, which also has six cylinders. In the 2009 S-Class this carries the model designation S 350 CDI BLUE EFFICIENCY.
The success story of the S-Class is also studded with numerous prizes and awards in international competitions. Here is a selection:
January 2008
Best Car Awards
auto, motor und sport (Germany)
November 2007
Auto Trophy
Auto Zeitung (Germany)
March 2006
Fleet Car of the year
Firmenwagen (Austria)
January 2006
Best Car in the luxury class
What Car? (Great Britain)
December 2005
Luxury Top Car
Motor-Informations-Dienst (Germany)
November 2005
Golden Steering Wheel
Bild am Sonntag (Germany)
The technical highlights of the S-Class and its predecessors
Since 1951, when the model 220 began the direct lineage of the S-Class, Mercedes-Benz has delivered around 3.3 million passenger cars from this model series to customers. This means that in terms of tradition too, this prestigious saloon easily leads the field. The S-Class has always been a trailblazer for the latest automobile technology, and as such the advance guard for the entire Mercedes-Benz brand.
A brief overview of the special technical features in the individual model series:
Model 220, W 187 series (1951 to 1954)
  • Newly designed six-cylinder engine with overhead camshaft
  • Patented safety conical-pin locks prevent doors from jumping open in an accident
  • Fan heater available
  • Duplex drum brakes at the front
Models 220 a, 220 S and 220 SE, W 180/128 series (1954 to 1959)
  • Unitary body design
  • Front suspension subframe
  • Single-link swing axle with low centre of gravity
  • Brake drums with "turbocooling"
  • "Hydrak" automatic hydraulic clutch (available from 1957)
Models 220 b, 220 Sb, 220 SEb, 300 SE, W 111/112 series (1959 to 1965)
  • Rigid safety passenger compartment with energy-absorbing crumple zones at the front and rear
  • Steering wheel with padded boss and elimination of sharp edges in the interior
  • Conical-pin door lock with two safety catches
  • Disc brakes (300 SE, 220 S/SE from 1962)
  • Three-point seat belts
  • Four-speed automatic transmission (available from 1961)
  • Air suspension (300 SE)
  • Long-wheelbase version available (300 SE)
Models 250 S – 300 SE, 300 SEL – 300 SEL 6.3, W 108/109 series (1965 to 1972)
  • Safety steering system comprising telescopic steering column and steering wheel with impact absorber (from 1967)
  • Hydropneumatic compensator spring at the rear axle
  • Also available with eight-cylinder engine (from 1967)
S-Class 280 S to 450 SE, 280 SEL to 450 SEL 6.9, W 116 series (1972 to 1980)
  • Officially known as the "S-Class" for the first time
  • Fuel tank installed above the rear axle for collision protection
  • Safety interior (with four-spoke safety steering wheel)
  • Safety door handles
  • Side windows with anti-soiling measures
  • Tail lights with anti-soiling design
  • Anti-lock braking system ABS (available from 1978)
  • Double-wishbone front suspension from the C 111 experimental vehicle
  • First luxury class saloon with a diesel engine (300 SD)
S-Class 260 SE to 560 SE, 300 SEL to 560 SEL, W 126 series (1979 to 1991)
  • New safety concept, the world's first series production car to be configured for an asymmetrical, frontal crash (offset crash)
  • First use worldwide of a driver airbag and belt tensioner in a series production car (available from 1981)
  • Front passenger airbag (available from 1987)
  • Three-point seat belts in the rear
  • Automatic locking differential
  • Acceleration skid control ASR (available from 1985)
S-Class 300 SE 2.8 to S 600; 300 SEL to S 600 long-wheelbase, W 140 series (1991 to 1998)
  • Electronic Stability Program ESP® (available from 1995)
  • Brake Assist BAS (from 1996)
  • Adaptive Damping System ADS (available from 1991)
  • Seat belt system with automatic height adjustment
  • Sidebags (from 1995)
  • First series production Mercedes-Benz car with a twelve-cylinder engine
S-Class S 280 to S 500; S 280 long-wheelbase to S 600, W 220 series (1998 to 2005)
  • Belt tensioners and belt-force limiters in the rear
  • Automatic child seat detection
  • Occupant protection system PRE-SAFE® (from 2002)
  • DISTRONIC proximity control (available from 1998)
  • Automatic cylinder cut-out (S 500/S 600)
  • KEYLESS-GO (available from 1998)
  • AIRMATIC air suspension with adaptive damping system
  • COMAND control and display system
  • Active Body Control suspension
  •  Active seat ventilation (available from 1998)
  • Bi-xenon headlamps with dynamic beam range control and headlamp cleaning system (available from 2002)
S-Class S 320 CDI to S 500; S 320 CDI long-wheelbase to S 600, W 221 series (2005-2009)
  • Brake Assist PLUS with radar sensors
  • DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control with extended speed range
  • Parking Assist based on radar
  • Dynamic multicontour seat with extended massage function
  • Night View Assist with infrared technology
  • Further development of PRE-SAFE® occupant protection
  • World's first automobile with an Environmental Certificate
  • COMAND system with menu navigation and Controller
  • "S/C/M" keys for individual adjustment of the damper and transmission characteristics and the level control system
  • Blind Spot Assist (since 2006)
S-Class S 350 to S 500; S 350 L to S 600; W 221 series (2009)
  • World's first hybrid drive system with a lithium-ion battery in the S 400 HYBRID
  • ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Night View Assist Plus
  • Speed Limit Assist
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Further development stage of PRE-SAFE®
  • An "electronic crumple zone" - the PRE-SAFE® Brake
  • DISTRONIC PLUS and Brake Assist PLUS with further developed radar technology
  • Torque Vectoring Brake
  • Active Body Control with crosswind stabilisation
  • Direct-Steer
  • D271811
  • D271813