The death of $1 million-and-more Maybach has opened the door for a wide range of new S-Class based luxury Benzes. The all-new S-Class that hits Australia late this year is now the starting point for everything from a new-style S-Class coupe to a fully-armoured flagship and a six-door Pullman model.
Some of the cars have already been caught testing in Europe and will soon be put through a sign-off drive in the US led by the chairman of Damiler, Dr Dieter Zetsche, around the upscale Los Angles and Palm Springs regions.
The first of the newcomers expected in showrooms is a very long-wheelbase S-Class that moves directly into Maybach territory, but likely with similar equipment and a pricetag less than half of the failed flagship.
There were two Maybach models, the 57 and 62 named after their lengths in decimetres, but they failed to fire against the hulking Rolls-Royce Phantom and were also shunned by shoppers who also preferred the idea of a Pullman with a three-pointed star.
“We are flat-out now working on the derivatives. We have a full order book for the next four years,” the head of overall S-Class testing, Uwe Hornig, tells Carsguide at the press preview of the S-Class in Canada. “Yes, there is a coupe and a Pullman.”
The extra-long S-Class never really went away, but was put into the background begin the Maybach and mostly supplied with a full ‘armour’ protection package. A bulletproof S-Class is already ready for action as Benz begins a rollout that includes a range of hybrids and development on a self-driving car that uses sensors which already ensure the car will stay inside its lane on well-marked freeways.
The flagship hybrid will be presented in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with a plug-in package that drops fuel consumption to little more than 3 litres/100km.
“The S-Class… is also an important pacesetter on the road to local zero-emissions driving,” says Dr Uwe Ernstberger, vice-president of the S-Class development program. “The S500 plug-in hybrid will be the first luxury sedan in the world to emit less than 75 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Plus, we already have prototypes that can drive far more autonomously than is currently permitted on public roads.”