New inline-six engines and even more tech.

The wait is almost over as Mercedes will roll out the mid-cycle refresh for its flagship model in April. Auto Express had the opportunity to ride shotgun in a prototype of the stretched Maybach version and learned from the company the full reveal is scheduled for “within the next month”. And Mercedes is planning to ensure the facelifted S-Class is even more technologically astute than the current NASA-grade one. 

The safety and assistance systems that debuted in the E-Class will carry over onto the luxury saloon and will actually be expanded to include new functionality. In-depth details are not available at this point, but we do know the S-Class facelift “will be able to support its driver considerably better than all the systems which have been available to date”. The reveal was made by the company’s Head of Automated Driving and Active Safety, Dr Michael Hafner, who went on to mention there are legislative hurdles regarding autonomous driving that must be solved.

2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 facelift spy photo
2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 facelift spy photo

A somewhat similar statement was made earlier this week by Audi chairman Rupert Stadler when talking about the S-Class’ arch-rival, the new A8: “As soon as legislation is passed in our core markets allowing highly automated driving on the highway, and when that is legally safe, we will offer the new key technology in the A8.”

Beyond autonomous tech, the S-Class facelift will also come with a mild exterior refresh bringing modified bumpers and some discreet changes to the headlights and taillights. Some subtle modifications inside the lavish cabin are also expected.

More important will be the changes under the bonnet, with Mercedes already revealing a newly developed inline-six 'M 256 petrol engine boasting a 48 V electrical system, an electric auxiliary compressor, and an integrated starter-alternator (ISG). It’s set to offer the performances of an eight-cylinder engine while being considerably more frugal. It will pack more than 408 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque while CO2 emissions are going to be reduced by approximately 15 percent over the previous V6.

Check out spy shots of the coupe, cabrio facelifts:

An inline-six 'OM 656' turbodiesel engine will also be inaugurated with the S-Class facelift. Billed as being the “most powerful passenger-car diesel engine in the history of Mercedes-Benz,” the new unit will have two-stage exhaust turbocharging and variable valve timing. Output will stand at more than 313 hp, which will represent a significant bump over the previous 'OM 642' unit (258 hp) and at the same time a decrease in fuel consumption of more than seven percent.

Besides these two inline-six engines, the 2018 S-Class will also gain a new biturbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol motor dubbed 'M 176'. It’s going to churn more than 476 hp and will generate its peak torque of 516 lb-ft from 2,000 rpm. Aside from being more powerful than its predecessor (455 hp), the new engine will also consume over 10 percent less fuel thanks to cylinder deactivation technology. When the engine’s full power will not be necessary, four of the cylinders will be automatically turned off to save fuel.

Both new M 256 and M 176 petrol engines will have particulate filters to reduce the emissions of fine soot particles. Further down the line, other gasoline units powering facelifted or new models are going to receive the particulate filter as well, including the 'M 264' engine.

With the full debut slated for April, expect Mercedes to release a series of teasers in the following weeks to generate more buzz around its updated crown jewel.

Source: Auto Express

Gallery: 2018 Mercedes S-Class facelift spy photos