The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the best car in the world, just ask Mercedes-Benz. And with the more up-market Maybach brand again relegated to history, there's more pressure on the new S than ever before.
The new range kicks off from $215,000 (plus on-roads) with the entry S 350 diesel, topping out with the hero S 63 AMG (available from January) at a whopping $385,000.
For buyers that prefer life in the back seat, the range also stars a pair of stretched 'L' models, in 350 diesel and 500 V8 petrol form.
Later in 2014, the line-up will also be joined by the S400 petrol, S 350 hybrid and the V12-powered S600.
Opening the new S-Class range is the S 350 diesel, powered by a 190kW/620Nm turbocharged 3.0 litre engine, mated to Merc's 7G-Tronic seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Mercedes lists fuel use at a very low 6.0 l/100km.
Moving up to the S 500 puts you behind the still-new 4.7 litre bi-turbo V8 engine, producing 335kW and 700Nm and again matched with the 7G auto. Official fuel figures are again remarkably low, at just 9.2 l/100km.
Headlining the range is the new S 63 AMG, revealed in July. Powered by Mercedes AMG's familiar 5.5 litre bi-turbo V8 engine, the S 63 promises 430kW and a massive 900Nm of torque.
The turbo V8 is matched to AMG's Speedshift MCT seven-speed auto transmission, and it can be had with either a rear-wheel-drive or 4Matic all-wheel-drive setup.
The new S 63 rockets to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds (beaten only by the overseas all-wheel-drive 4matic model, at 4.0 seconds).
MORE: 2014 S 63 AMG Revealed
All S-Class models in Australia are offered in rear-wheel-drive only, with Merc's existing large-car 4matic system available only in left-hand-drive cars.
As a top-end luxury limousine, the features list for the new S-Class goes on for days. And, as the S-Class always has, this new model also debuts a host of new technologies.
Among them, a new autonomous steering system that will - in certain situations and for about 30 seconds - allow the driver to surrender the wheel to the car's computer.
A new pedestrian-detection system will also feature, adding a camera system to more efficiently interpret and recognise whether the obstacle is real and potentially dangerous.
The carmaker says that the addition of the camera technology ensures that its PreSafe system is less likely to activate the automatic braking function unnecessarily.
The big limo's Emegency Brake assist is also more advanced than in current models, allowing automatic braking at speeds up to 70km, compared to 30km/h in its current form.
The system will work together with Emergency Steer Assist, helping the driver to safely swerve around an obstacle when appropriate.
Other safety features include nine airbags, lane-keeping and blindspot alert, stability control and ABS and brake assist.
Mercedes also promises a top-shelf Burmester audio system with an all-digital 12.3 inch high-resolution dual-view display in the dash, along with an advanced dual-zone Air-Balance cooling and heating system.
All models get air suspension, Park Assist with an all-round-view camera and 12 sensors, LED lights, a panoramic sunroof and, in the cabin, WLAN and wi-fi hotspot for those working on the move.
Also in the back seat of the S 500 model is a pair of 10-inch displays, matched to wireless headphones and auxiliary connections for media systems.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- S 350 Bluetec - 3.0 diesel - $215,000
- S 350 Bluetec L - 3.0 diesel - $222,500
- S 500 - 4.7 litre V8 - $285,000
- S 500 L - 4.7 litre V8 - $310,000
- S 63 AMG - 5.5 litre V8 - $385,000