VIP chauffeurs and their clients are in for a treat as the face-lifted Mercedes S-Class powers in with enhanced levels of output, economy and refinement, thanks to the return of the straight six motor.
Ian Kuah takes the first industry test drive for TheChauffeur.com…
A completely new 2,999cc petrol engine family powers the 367hp S450 and 430hp S500, while the equivalent 2,925cc diesel line-up consists of the 286hp S350d and 340hp 400d.
The reason for the return of the i6 motor is quite simple. With improved levels of fuel consumption, emissions and efficiency obtained with the help of turbocharging, the era of displacement downsizing is in full swing, and we are seeing four-cylinder engines replacing sixes, and sixes replacing V8s. Since a straight six is simply a four with two extra cylinders, the i6 and i4 are the natural volume pairing to replace the previous modular V6 and V8 engine families.
The first of the new models I drove is the first ever S500 to have a mere six-cylinders, but Mercedes justify retaining the iconic V8 model designation on the grounds that the new six matches the output of the previous eight-cylinder engine.
While you might miss the deep V8 burble of old you will certainly be impressed with the smooth and potent delivery of 435hp at 5,900rpm and 520Nm of torque between 1,500 and 5,500rpm. The stopwatch records this 2,005kg saloon rocketing to 100km/h in 4.8 sec, with its top speed electronically limited to 250km/h.
The engineers have done a wonderful job in making the three stage turbocharging work seamlessly, and the result is excellent low speed throttle response, eagerness to rev, and a strong and progressive flow of power accompanied by a crisp straight-six soundtrack. The silkiness of the new i6 engines is palpable and deeply satisfying.