SedanMercedes-Benz85% by Neofiliac Team

Mercedes-Benz S-class W221

Full-Size Sedan

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Photo 0of Mercedes-Benz S-class W221Photo 1of Mercedes-Benz S-class W221Photo 2of Mercedes-Benz S-class W221

Product Overview

Mercedes-Benz S-class W221 is a full-size luxury sedan in production from 2005 to 2009, whereupon it received a facelift. It was available with a range of V6, V8, and V12 engines that displaced 3.0 to 6.2 liters.
Styling-wise, the W221 is a huge departure from the soft, elegant design of W220. Many find it the most imposing S-class in the 21st century. Inside, Mercedes made great efforts in improving material quality. However, some of the digital stuff, such as the center display in the instrument panel, are not aging as gracefully as the mechanical dials in the W220.
Engine-wise, the W221 also came with notable changes: Gone were the SOHC V6 M112 and V8 M113 engines. In their stead, the M272 and M273 DOHC units delivered significant boost in power. However, gone was also the superb reliability of the M112/M113: The M272 and M273 had most notably a timing gear issue that would require frequent timing chain / gear changes to avoid complete failure. While some say that later M273 builds fixed this problem, there was never a fix for the M272.
The S55 AMG was discontinued with the W220. Instead, Mercedes introduced the S63 AMG with the new 6.2L M156 engine. This engine has great character, though it suffers from premature cam wear and is a high-maintenance engine.
Ironically, the only petrol engine carried over from what many influencers say is the worst S-class, the M275, turned out to be the most robust and reliable choice. In S65 AMG guise, it continued to produce 612PS with 100Nm of torque. In S600 guise, output was slightly increased, though it likely has more to do with the intake setup than the engine itself.
Another downer is the widespread use of 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission (code 722.9), which is less smooth and reliable than the 5G-TRONIC. Fortunately, the V12 continued to use the older unit.
Mercedes-Benz has made a good effort in aerodynamics, with a decent 0.27 coefficient of drag to show for it.
Drivers who appreciate handling will be pleased to know that the S-class comes with multi-link suspensions at all four corners. Airmatic is standard on most models, though AMG and S600 used ABC, which has been improved in terms of reliability.


What we found

Neofiliac score 85%
  • The wonderful M275 engine lives on
  • Good 0.27 drag coefficient
  • Improved ABC and Airmatic reliability
  • Superb suspension setup
  • Great ride quality
  • M272/M273 engine balance shaft/timing gear problems
  • 7G-Tronic is less smooth than 5G-Tronic
  • Worse handling than W220

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Variants shown:
AMG S 65
S 320 CDI
S 320 CDI L
S 350
S 350 4MATIC
S 350 L
S 350 L 4MATIC
S 420 CDI
S 420 CDI L
S 450
S 450 4MATIC
S 450 L
S 450 L 4MATIC
S 500
S 500 4MATIC
S 500 L
S 500 L 4MATIC
S 550
S 550 L
S 600 L
S 63 AMG
S 63 AMG L

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