It couldn’t be simpler to adulate the Mercedes-Benz S-class. The inclination it bestows to proprietors and the social capital it orders are contained in its name: Sonderklasse. Extraordinary Class.Decades of applauses for one S-class after another make the W220 S-class, uncovered at the 1998 Paris Motor Show and sold from 1998 to 2005, a unique section in the chronicles of uncommon cars.
When we checked on the new S500 for our May 1999 issue, we called its shape “enthusiastic,” its inside “warm-blooded, moving toward tropical in its erotic nature,” and said it “sets a benchmark” on the bending streets utilized for our 10Best choice. The specialized features took one staff member about two hours to learn. Toward the finish of our survey, we asked, “Is this the world’s best car?”But the W220 was similarly as entangled as it was exceptional, in light of the fact that the entirety of its advances prompted troubling outcomes. Some censured the smooth styling as Mercedes surrendering to form. (The W220 would have appeared well and good after the W126 rather than the W140.) The serious, sexy inside plan was let somewhere around unmistakably substandard materials. And every one of those at first amazing hardware?
They broke. A great deal. The purpose behind that: The W220’s backstory was considerably more confused than the car.No S-class, even one that can drive itself and park itself, creates itself. It’d be difficult to get a tortured and monetarily less fortunate W220 proprietor to concur, yet the most noticeably awful aspect of the W220 wasn’t a part, it was the disturbances at Daimler and Mercedes-Benz all through the 1990s. The German mechanical bedrock hurled for a strong 12 years, and the vehicles cracked.Six relevant strings plaited themselves into an adorned whip called the W220 S-class, apparently intended to rebuff proprietors. (Furthermore, the S-class wasn’t the main weapon of liberal pulverization. The 1996 W210 E-class was apparently more awful, one of its quirks a diesel motor racked by an issue called Black Death.)
Viewed in total, one may be shocked the W220 didn’t come out worse.Here’s what occurred: In the last part of the 1980s and mid 1990s, Daimler-Benz CEO Edzard Reuter attempted to transform Daimler into a worldwide tech organization through what the New York Times called an “obtaining binge, getting tied up with aviation, guard, gadgets, rail frameworks, money related administrations, programming, and family unit machines.” Reuter wasn’t a designer and didn’t correspond with Mercedes’ moderate, bank-vault building ethos. His enthusiasm for the vehicle division was that it mined the cash to pay for his run at a domain. A downturn in the mid 1990s helped end that run in 1995, the organization flooded with red ink.Jürgen Schrempp dominated. Frequently cast as a German adaptation of General Electric CEO symbol Jack Welch, one of Schrempp’s epithets was Mr. Investor Value. In the 1996 Daimler yearly report, Schrempp’s initial proclamation focused on raising Daimler-Benz’s working edge to 12 percent. This would be finished by expanding productivity and reducing expenses through endeavors like interior intensity drives and Daimler’s grip of Japan’s in the nick of time manufacturing.It worked. Toward the finish of 1996, Daimler-Benz was productive once more. That benefit developed the following year.
In 1998, The Independent composed Schrempp “would be recognized as the man who changed the badly engaged German modern organization into one of Europe’s most productive carmakers.”Honeymoons are great.Car and DriverAs Schrempp pared fat, he likewise set out on domain building. While Reuter cobbled together different organizations, Schrempp needed to assemble the world’s biggest automaker, a juggernaut he called Welt AG or World Inc. He fused Mercedes-Benz into Daimler in 1997, arranged the DaimlerChrysler “merger,” fixed in 1998, at that point took a controlling 37.7-percent stake in Mitsubishi and a 10.5-percent stake in Hyundai in 2000.Concurrent with spending cuts and realm building, Mercedes-Benz traveler vehicle manager Jürgen Hubbert, a urbane and imperturbable German nicknamed Dr. Mercedes, detonated the model check. In 1987, Mercedes sold five traveler vehicle lines. By 1997, five had gotten 10. The following decade birthed another four model lines, two entire brands in Smart and Maybach and a coincidental supercar, the Mercedes-McLaren SLR.In 2007, a Mercedes chief admitted, “The surge of new items caused us a ton of issues.” According to Automotive News, providers at the time said Schrempp took Mercedes’ concentration off building.
Schrempp trusted Mercedes vehicles cost a lot to deliver and sell as a result of “overengineering.” Daimler’s interruptions wound up gutting fundamental engineering.In 1995, when Daimler-Benz’s board affirmed the W220’s last plan, in any case, nobody realized that was happening.The ascent of the PC during the 1990s transformed chip-based vehicle advances into a brand differentiator and benefit focus. In our audit of the W140 S-class that went before the W220, we composed that the car’s body was “pressed with equipment as thickly as Maria Shriver’s significant other is stuffed with muscle.” (That’d be Arnold Schwarzenegger, presently her ex-husband.)The W220 was in any event one however maybe four significant degrees past the W140 regarding tech.Finally, the W220 needed to eradicate the wrongdoings of the W140. James Taylor’s book Mercedes-Benz S-Class 1972-2013 titles the section on the too large, excessively weighty, too garish W140 S-class, “Hubris.”According to Taylor, that is the means by which Dieter Zetsche, at that point head of traveler vehicle designing administering the W220, wound up with a brief for “better execution with lower fuel utilization, more inside room, expanded security, lighter weight, and a scope of gear that was as thorough as could be expected under the circumstances … [to] pioneer new advancements that would separate it from rival competitors; lastly, it must be less expensive to work, in accordance with the new corporate way of thinking of the vehicle division that was clearing ceaselessly some since quite a while ago settled practices at the time.”Well then.Zetsche’s group conveyed the principal vehicle on the planet with keyless beginning and a radar-based voyage control, called Distronic.
The W220 presented the brand’s Cockpit Management and Data System, COMAND, with GPS route, refreshed Linguatronic voice-controlled telephone and sound capacities, and TeleAid. The vehicle accompanied three proprietor’s manuals: one for the vehicle, one for COMAND, and one for the telephone system.The Airmatic suspension with electronically controlled versatile damping was new. Dynamic Body Control (ABC), a water powered, completely dynamic framework to kill body roll, followed a year later, presented on the CL. The W220 was the primary S-class to offer 4Matic all-wheel drive. In 2002, the W220 appeared Pre-Safe. Frameworks inside the W220 made sure about 340 licenses. The lead contained 40 ECUs conveying more than three separate fiber-optic conduits.And its quick mechanical prevalence transformed into parts that broke with terrifying and falling regularity.The Airmatic suspension pipework spilled, or its siphon would break. At the point when the Airmatic framework goes, the vehicle squats on its wheels like it’s doing whatever it takes not to crap itself. The ABC’s water powered siphon would resign, or its funnels would spill, making the car lean permanently.
The delicate close entryways would decline to pull themselves shut because of a glitchy pneumatic actuator or one more busted siphon. The COMAND framework module fizzled and required substitution, sound framework issues were army. The hardware depleted the battery, and diagnosing the subtle draw peruses like a bomb removal direct. Disregard bouncing the W220 with another vehicle, since floods would broil the W220’s fiber-optic electrical system.Of the wrench position sensor in the W220’s new group of V-6 and V-8 motors, one site says, “The W220 S-class will experience these joyfully” and decline to begin when the vehicle is hot.Even away from gadgets, the W220 had issues. In 1993, Mercedes-Benz changed to water-based paint. For reasons that stay indistinct, the steel didn’t get the treatment it required, so early creation models endured extreme rust issues, particularly around the wheel wells.
Car and DriverThe May 1999 Road and Track survey of the S500 rebuked, “The inside of the new S-class is a mix of the most noteworthy of car innovation and, oh, of increased cost/advantage estimations. (Think about the S500’s $9650 value cut and consider every option.)” When Car and Driver drove each age of the S-class in 2018, we named our slide displaying the inside, “Debased Materials.”A channel valve beneath the windscreen would get hindered with soil, leaves, or day off. Water would run off the blockage into the bulkhead, at that point into the traveler footwells, where it shorted the floor-mounted Signal Acquisition Module (SAM)and combine box. One of Mercedes’ prescribed fixes was to cut a subsequent waste gap with a drill and body saw. Definitely. Drill and saw a gap.
In a Mercedes. As taught by Mercedes.As numerous proprietors found, there was a lot more that could, and went, wrong. Schrempp would fault “complex gadgets frameworks introduced without being appropriately perceived.” He was discussing the E-class, yet the S-class had a comparative craving for demolition. Purchaser Reports ordered the W220 model’s dependability as “poor,” blessing it one of the “least solid extravagance cars.”A facelift in 2002 fixed numerous regular issues. After five years, “Hubbert uncovered that in its push to fathom a portion of its cutting edge issues, Mercedes impaired or eliminated many electronic highlights and capacities from very good quality items like the S-class. Obviously, no one took note. Also, in the event that they did, it was simply because the vehicles begun to work better.”The 2003 to 2005 models are suggested for the individuals who must example the W220. Important examination incorporates the W220 Encyclopedia, gathered throughout the years by lovers for window customers. It’s 13 single-divided pages of connections to fixes.The issues reared during the 1990s would frequent Daimler for a considerable length of time. In 1990, Mercedes-Benz started things out in the J.D. Force and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study. In 2003, the organization was 27th