Mercedes-Benz W140

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Mercedes-Benz W140
1992 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 140) sedan (2010-07-19).jpg
1991–1993 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W140)
ProductionApril 1991 – September 1998 (sedan)
October 1992 – September 1998 (coupe)
AssemblyGermany: Stuttgart
Mexico: Toluca
DesignerOlivier Boulay (Sedan exterior: 1986; Coupe exterior: 1987)
Bruno Sacco (design director 1982–1990)[1][2]
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size luxury car (F)
Body style4-door sedan (W140; short)
4-door sedan (V140; long)
4-door sedan (VV140; Pullman)
2-door coupé (C140)
LayoutFR layout
RelatedMaybach 57 and 62
Transmission4-speed 4G-Tronic automatic
5-speed 5G-Tronic automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase3,040 mm (119.7 in)
3,139 mm (123.6 in) (V140)
2,944 mm (115.9 in) (C140)
4,140 mm (163.0 in) (Pullman)
Length5,113 mm (201.3 in)
5,213 mm (205.2 in) (V140)
5,065 mm (199.4 in) (C140)
6,228 mm (245.2 in) (Pullman)
Width1,886 mm (74.3 in)
1,895 mm (74.6 in) (C140)
Height1,486 mm (58.5 in)
1,427 mm (56.2 in) (C140)
Curb weight1,880 kg (4,145 lb)
2,190 kg (4,828 lb) (V140)
2,060–2,240 kg (4,542–4,938 lb) (C140)
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W126
SuccessorMercedes-Benz W220 (S-Class)
Mercedes-Benz C215 (coupé: CL-Class)

The Mercedes-Benz W140 is a series of flagship vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz from 1991 to 1998 in sedan/saloon and coupe body styles and two wheelbase lengths (SE and SEL). Mercedes-Benz unveiled the W140 S-Class at Geneva Motor Show in March 1991 with sales launch in April 1991 and North American launch in 6 August 1991.

All models were renamed in June 1993 as part of the corporate-wide nomenclature changes for 1994 model year on, becoming S regardless of wheelbase length or body style as well as fuel type. Diesel models carried a TURBODIESEL trunk/boot lid label. In 1996, the S-Class coupé was renamed again as CL-Class into its own model range.

The W140 series S-Class was superseded by the W220 S-Class sedan and C215 CL-Class coupé in 1998 after an eight-year production run.

Production of the W140 reached 432,732,[3] with 406,710 sedans and 26,022 coupés.


1994–1996 S-Class (W140)
1996–1998 S-Class (W140)

The development on the W140 began in 1981, with official introduction originally set in September 1989. Several different design proposals were studied from 1982 until 1986, when a definitive design proposal by Olivier Boulay was selected on 9 December 1986. Several engineering prototypes were evaluated from early 1987, with the final exterior design locked in September 1987. The design patents were filed on 23 February 1988 in West Germany and 23 August 1988 in the United States.[4] The lead designer Bruno Sacco attributed Jaguar's XJ40 sedan and BMW's E32 7-Series as a major influence in W140 design.[5][6] The initial exterior design proposal called for the two different cooling grille designs to denote the lower and upper model, similar to the idea of round and rectangle headlamps on the W123 (1976-1985). Innovative metal-forming technology allowed the extension of the engine hood/bonnet to the front bumper, with the grille placed inside the extruded metal. The W140 became the second model after the R129 (1989-2001) to have this extruded metal grille.

When BMW introduced a new 7-Series (E32) in 1986, a first post-war German passenger V12 engine, M70, was offered. This surprise announcement forced Mercedes-Benz to delay the introduction of the W140 by eighteen months to 1991. The delay allowed Mercedes-Benz to develop the new V12 engine and to rearrange the engine bay to accommodate the gargantuan V12 engine along with upgrading the brake system. The final development prototypes were completed in June 1990, with pilot production models being built from June 1990 to January 1991.

The project cost overruns and eighteen-month delay resulted in the departure of Wolfgang Peter, Mercedes-Benz' chief engineer.[7] The price of a W140 was considerably higher than its predecessor, the W126, (up to 25 per cent) leading to slow sales during the recession of 1990-1994. Mercedes-Benz shifted from "engineer's design" to "market-driven design" in the 1990s.[citation needed]

A stillborn V16 engine based on an elongated V12 engine meant for a hypothetical 800 SEL/S 800 was, again, developed in response to the purported rumour of BMW exploring a V16 engine and testing it in a 7-Series (E32) mule, named Goldfisch V16. Mercedes-Benz had a small fleet of 85 W140 prototypes with V16 engines. Due to the increasing concern for climate protection and fear of sending a wrong message to the public in the early 1990s, the V16 engine was quietly cancelled.[8]

In March 1994, the updated W140 was unveiled at the 1994 Geneva Auto Salon and went on sale in April 1994.

In 1995, the two tone exterior appearance was made to be monotone, low-beam xenon headlamps were added and the rear indicator lenses became clear. The change were later was introduced in June 1996 as 1996.5 models in Europe and 1997 models in the United States.

The W140 received notoriety when Diana, Princess of Wales died in a car crash, involving a S 280 model, in a Paris tunnel in 1997.[9][10]


The three body types are carried over from the W126: four-door sedan/saloon in two wheelbase lengths and one two-door coupé. The model types are assigned as W140 for standard wheelbase, V140 for long wheelbase, and C140 for coupé. In 1996, S-Class coupé was renamed as CL-Class and spun off from S-Class. A longer Pullman version with 4140 mm wheelbase was introduced in 1995 with two engine choices (S 500 Pullman and S 600 Pullman). The S 600 Pullman could be ordered with armour package.

The Sultan of Brunei ordered eighteen S 73 T station wagons/estates with AMG-prepared M 297 7.3-litre V12 engines putting out 391 kW (532 PS; 524 hp) and 750 N⋅m (553 lb⋅ft) to be built, with ten units delivered. The S 73 T had an S-Class coupé front end and the rear part of an S210 station wagon/estate installed.[11]

A one-off custom-built S 500 lang Landaulet Popemobile was built for Pope John Paul II in 1997.



The W140 S-Class introduced noted safety innovations.[12]

  • Braking system. The V8 and V12 W140 models distributed more braking power to the rear wheels, increasing stopping effectiveness. In 1996, the W140 received Brake Assist System BAS, which engaged during emergency maneuvers to boost braking power to maximum.[13]
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP) was introduced in 1995 on the Mercedes-Benz S 600 Coupé.[14] ESP used on-board computers to improve vehicle handling response during difficult driving conditions. This was a Mercedes developed system, which has since been licensed to other manufacturers.
  • Xenon High-intensity discharge headlights (low beam only) were introduced in 1995.
  • Side airbags and seat occupancy sensors were introduced in 1996.
  • Automatic windscreen wipers with rain sensors were introduced in 1996.

Comfort and convenience[edit]

W140 features included:

  • Double-paned soundproofed glass was a new S-Class innovation first fitted on the W140. This form of window glazing allowed for improved soundproofing, reduced condensation, and other insulation benefits.
  • Electrically-operated exterior mirrors could be folded by switch to ease driving in narrow spaces.
  • 'Parameter steering' was a system which made low-speed driving easier by reducing the effort required to maneuver in speed-sensitive situations such as parking.
  • Rear-parking markers, or guide rods. These rods extended from the rear corners of the trunk lid when in reverse, providing the driver with a guideline for rear maneuvers. In 1995, this system was replaced by the sonar-based Parktronic system which measured the distance of the bumpers to nearby obstacles.
  • 12-way powered, heated front seats, with 3 setting memory functions and lumbar support.
  • Windshield wipers with heated washer system. Later models also included rain-sensing windshield wipers.
  • Electrically-operated automatic-dimming inside rear-view mirror that tied into the seat and steering wheel memory.
  • Heated exterior mirrors. Later models also included auto-dimming driver's side mirror.
  • Orthopedic seats were an expensive option from the factory but consisted of several different air cushions in the seat that the user can inflate and deflate to find the perfect driving position.
  • Dual-zone climate control. Four-zone climate control on LWB models.
  • Reclining and heated rear seats on LWB models. V12 models also have the four-place seating option, which allows fully adjustable rear seats, lumbar support and rear sunshade control. The center seat has been replaced by a burlwood center console, allowing a 2 + 2 seating format.
  • The climate control system could be set to operate for 20 minutes after the engine had been turned off.
  • Electric rear sunshade.
  • Rear passenger illuminated vanity mirrors.
  • Soft-closing doors and trunk.
  • Leather interiors and burl inserts (optional; standard for 500SEC/CL 500).
  • In 1995 the S 600 Coupe became the first Mercedes car with GPS navigation system, designated Auto Pilot System APS. It featured CD-ROM maps and full color navigation display in the center dashboard.
  • In 1996 the Linguatronic voice control system and Parktronic sonar-based parking system were introduced
  • In 1997 the TELEAID emergency and tracking system was introduced in the US market.
  • Also, developed with the car, a Bose sound system was available as an option.

Drivetrain technologies[edit]

  • First introduction of CAN bus (5 CAN bus nodes).
  • The W140 featured a newly developed front axle double wishbone suspension and a rear independent multi-link suspension.
  • In 1991 the first generation of the hydropneumatic ADS (Adaptive Damping System) (Skyhook-type suspension) was introduced. It adjusted the damping level of the shock absorbers to help stabilize the car during high speed driving, aggressive driving, or if the driver loses control of the vehicle.[15] Became standard on V12 models and optional for V8 models.
  • In 1996 self-levelling suspension was integrated with ADS.
  • A new diesel inline six engine with four valves per cylinder, a first for Mercedes-Benz, was introduced in 1996 as S 300 TURBODIESEL.



A new generation of inline 6 and V8 petrol engines were developed with double-overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder, and new variable valve timing. Mercedes-Benz's first passenger V12 engine was introduced in 1991 in a response to BMW's 750i/750iL (E32). Only 3.5-litre inline 6 diesel engine, OM 603.97x, was carried over from W126 and remained only engine in W140 model range with two valves per cylinder form until its replacement in 1996. The DOHC, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing helped increase the horsepower and torque figures without heavy fuel consumption penalty while reducing the emission. All petrol engines were equipped with catalytic converters during the entire W140 model run regardless of where they were sold.

The 3.0-litre 24-valve inline 6, M 104.98x, was first introduced in 300 SL-24 and 300 E-24, 300 CE-24, and 300 TE-24 in 1989. This engine, fitted to 300 SE/300 SEL, had a very short run in W140; it was replaced by upgraded inline 6 engines introduced in 1993 with two displacements. The smaller 2.8-litre M 104.94x engine was fitted to 300 SE 2.8 (one year only) then S 280 (1994-1998). The larger 3.2-litre M 104.99x engine was fitted to 300 SE/300 SEL (one year only) then S 320 (1994–1998).

The M 119 V8 engines were available in 4.2-litre (M 119 E 42) and 5.0-litre (M 119 E 50) versions and remained unchanged during its entire model run. In 1994, AMG developed a 6.0-litre version (M 119 E 60) with 279 kW (379 PS; 374 bhp) and 580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft) in a very limited production for Japanese market. The S 500 AMG 6.0 and CL 500 AMG 6.0 were built from 1994 to 1999 per customer order.[16] For 1993, the V8 engines were detuned for improved emission control.

The M 120 V12 engine was offered in 6.0 litres only for the entire model run. This engine developed 290–300 kW (394–408 PS; 389–402 hp) and 569–580 N⋅m (420–428 lb⋅ft) of torque for the 6.0-litre version. The 300 kW (408 PS; 402 bhp) version was available in Europe from 1991 to 1992 and in the United States for 1992 only. In 1993, the V12 was slightly detuned to 290 kW (394 PS; 389 bhp) for lower emission control. An AMG-prepared 6.0-litre M 120 V12 with higher performance rating, 327 kW (445 PS; 439 hp) and 623 N⋅m (460 lb⋅ft), was not officially available for S-Class sedan/saloon as it was exclusive to CL-Class and SL-Class.

The 3.5-litre inline 6 diesel engine, OM 603.97x in 300 SD TURBODIESEL (1991–1993) and S 350 TURBODIESEL (1994–1996) was at last offered outside North American and Japanese markets for the first time. This engine was replaced in 1996 by all-new 24-valve OM 606.961 ERE engine. This engine was loosely derived from M 104 petrol engine with different crankshaft and cylinder head. The smaller engine fitted to S 300 TURBODIESEL put out 130 kW (177 PS; 174 hp) and 330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft). The fuel was delivered indirectly in the precombustion chamber before entering the combustion chamber.


W140 remains the only S-Class to have wider range of transmissions during its eight-year run. The transmission choices at the introduction was 5-speed manual and 4-speed 4G-Tronic automatic. A new 5-speed 5G-Tronic was introduced in 1994 for inline 6 petrol engines only. In September 1995, 5G-Tronic was updated with electronic control for more optimal shifting points based on the sensor readings and became the sole automatic transmission option for the entire model range from 1996 to 1998.

The models equipped with inline 6 petrol engines have 5-speed manual transmission as standard with either 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission as extra-cost options, making W140 the last S-Class to have manual transmission. In June 1996, both 4-speed and 5-speed automatic transmissions were replaced by 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The inline 6 diesel engines were never offered with manual transmissions, following the "tradition" with W116 and W126. S 300 TURBODIESEL, introduced in 1996, received the 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

The models with V8 and V12 engines were offered with 4-speed automatic transmission as standard until August 1995. On September 1995, the 4-speed automatic transmission was replaced by 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

4MATIC, the all-wheel-drive system introduced in W124 (1985–1996), was never fitted to W140 S-Class. W140's successor, W220, became the first S-Class to have 4MATIC as extra-cost option.

Technical data[edit]

The figures given for acceleration, top speed, and fuel consumption are combination of all types of transmission (5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, 5-speed automatic, and 5-speed electronically controlled automatic) and three body types (standard, long, and coupé) wherever applicable.

Model Chassis Years Configuration Displacement Power Torque Empty Weight (kg) 0–100 km/h (0-62 mph) Top Speed (km/h) Fuel Consumption Units
Petrol Engines
300 SE 2.8 W140.028 02/1992–05/1993 (M 104 E 28) Inline 6 2799 cc 142 kW (193 PS; 190 bhp) 270 N⋅m (199 lb⋅ft) 1890 10.6-11 seconds 210–215 km/h (130–134 mph) 11.1–11.7 L/100 km (21.2–20.1 mpg‑US) 22,784
S 280 06/1993–09/1998
300 SE W140.032 09/1991–05/1993 (M 104 E 32) Inline 6 3199 cc 170 kW (230 PS; 230 bhp) 310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft) 1890 8.9–9.4 seconds 225–230 km/h (140–143 mph) 11.1–12.3 L/100 km (21.2–19.1 mpg‑US) 98,095
S 320 06/1993–09/1998 315 N⋅m (232 lb⋅ft)
300 SEL W140.033 01/1991–05/1993 310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft) 1900 85,346
S 320 Long 06/1993–09/1998 315 N⋅m (232 lb⋅ft)
400 SE W140.042 04/1991–05/1993 (M 119 E 42) V8 4196 cc 210 kW (290 PS; 280 bhp) 410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft) 1900 7.9–8.5 seconds 245–250 km/h (152–155 mph) 11.7–12.2 L/100 km (20.1–19.3 mpg‑US) 14,277
S 420 06/1993–08/1998 205 kW (279 PS; 275 bhp) 400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft)
400 SEL W140.043 04/1991–05/1993 210 kW (290 PS; 280 bhp) 410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft) 2000 35,191
S 420 Long 06/1993–09/1998 205 kW (279 PS; 275 bhp) 400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft)
S 420 Coupé
CL 420
W140.063 02/1994–08/1998 2080 2,496
500 SE W140.050 04/1991–05/1993 (M 119 E 50) V8 4973 cc 240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp) 480 N⋅m (354 lb⋅ft) 1900 7.0–7.5 seconds 250 km/h (155 mph) 11.5–11.9 L/100 km (20.5–19.8 mpg‑US) 21,942
S 500 06/1993–08/1998 235 kW (320 PS; 315 bhp) 470 N⋅m (347 lb⋅ft)
500 SEL W140.051 04/1991–05/1993 240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp) 480 N⋅m (354 lb⋅ft) 2000 65,065
S 500 Long 06/1993–09/1998 235 kW (320 PS; 315 bhp) 470 N⋅m (347 lb⋅ft)
500 SEC W140.070 10/1992–05/1993 240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp) 480 N⋅m (354 lb⋅ft) 2080 14,953
S 500 Coupé
CL 500
06/1993–09/1998 235 kW (320 PS; 315 bhp) 470 N⋅m (347 lb⋅ft)
600 SE W140.056 04/1991–05/1993 (M 120 E 60) V12 5987 cc 300 kW (410 PS; 400 bhp) 580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft) 2180 6.3–6.5 seconds 250 km/h (155 mph) 12.5–13.7 L/100 km (18.8–17.2 mpg‑US) 3,399
S 600 06/1993–07/1998 290 kW (390 PS; 390 bhp) 570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft)
600 SEL W140.057 04/1991–05/1993 300 kW (410 PS; 400 bhp) 580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft) 2190 32,517
S 600 Long 06/1993–09/1998 290 kW (390 PS; 390 bhp) 570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft)
600 SEC W140.076 10/1992–05/1993 300 kW (410 PS; 400 bhp) 580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft) 2240 8,573
S 600 Coupé
CL 600
06/1993–09/1998 290 kW (390 PS; 390 bhp) 570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft)
Diesel Engines
300 SD W140.134 10/1991–05/1993 (OM 603 D 35 A, 12 valves) Inline 6 3449 cc 110 kW (150 PS; 150 bhp) 310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft) 1940 13.1 seconds 185 km/h (115 mph) 9.7 L/100 km (24 mpg‑US) 20,518
S 350 Turbodiesel 06/1993–08/1996
S 300 Turbodiesel W140.135 06/1996–08/1998 (OM 606 D 30 LA, 24 valves) Inline 6 2996 cc 130 kW (180 PS; 170 bhp) 330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft) 1940 11.2 seconds 206 km/h (128 mph) 8.1 L/100 km (29 mpg‑US) 7,583



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