Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220)

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Mercedes s klasse 1 sst2.jpg
Manufacturer Daimler-Benz
Production August 13, 1998 – July 20, 2005
485,000 built
Assembly Sindelfingen, Germany
Toluca, Mexico
Bogor, Indonesia[1]
Designer Steve Mattin, Bruno Sacco [2] (1994)
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car (F)
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Related Mercedes-Benz C215
Engine 2.8 L 201 hp (150 kW) V6
3.2 L 221 hp (165 kW) V6
3.2 L 194 hp (145 kW) I6 Diesel
3.2 L 201 hp (150 kW) I6 Diesel
3.7 L 242 hp (180 kW) V6
4.0 L 247 hp (184 kW) V8 Diesel
4.0 L 256 hp (191 kW) V8 Diesel
4.3 L 275 hp (205 kW) V8
5.0 L 302 hp (225 kW) V8
5.4 L 355 hp (265 kW) V8
5.4 L 493 hp (368 kW) AMG V8
5.8 L 362 hp (270 kW) V12
6.3 L 438 hp (327 kW) V12
5.5 L 493 hp (368 kW) V12
6.0 L 604 hp (450 kW) AMG V12
Transmission 5-speed automatic
7-speed automatic
Wheelbase 116.7 in (2,964 mm) (SWB)
121.5 in (3086 mm) (LWB)
Length 198.5 in (5,042 mm) (SWB)
203.1 in (5158 mm) (LWB)
203.3 in (5,164 mm) (LWB, 2004-06)
Width 73.1 in (1855 mm)
73.0 in (1855 mm) (2004-06)
Height 56.9 in (1444 mm) (2000-01 & 2004-06)
57.2 in (1,453 mm) (2002-03)
57 in (1,448 mm) (LWB, 2004-06)
Curb weight S320: 1,770 kg (3,900 lb)
S430/S500: 1,855 kg (4,090 lb)
2001 S55: 4,030 lb (1,828 kg)
2003 S55: 4,300 lb (1,950 kg)
Predecessor Mercedes-Benz W140
Successor Mercedes-Benz W221
For a complete overview of all S-Class models see Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The Mercedes-Benz W220 was a series of flagship sedans which constituted the Mercedes-Benz S-Class during the early to mid-2000s. Development for the W220 S-Class started in 1992,[3] with the final design, helmed by Steve Mattin being approved in 1994 and frozen for production in the first half of 1995.[4] The completed prototypes were presented in June 1998. The W220 started production in August 13, 1998, and the C215 CL-Class coupés started production in 1999. The W220 was a replacement for the earlier W140 S-Class after the 1998 model year. Compared to its predecessor, the W220 had somewhat smaller exterior dimensions but offered more interior space, particularly in the long-wheelbase versions (although the trunk is smaller than on its W140 predecessor). Production of the W220 totalled 485,000 units, slightly more than the production totals from the W140. Production ended in 2006 when the W220 was replaced by the W221 S-Class and the C215 was replaced in 2006 by the C216 CL-Class.

In many European countries, the diesel S320 CDI version became the most popular model, making it the first S-Class in which a diesel engine achieved broad appeal. Other engine options were various gas/petrol V-6 engines, V-8, and V-12 engines. There was long and short wheelbase versions, performance and luxury enhancement options, and also four-wheel drive versions.


Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination at the Mercedes-Benz Museum

Steve Mattin's design was first sketch drawn in late 1992 and developed into 1:1 scale by late 1994. The series production design was frozen 38 months before production in 1995. The W220 exterior design (especially headlights) was previewed by the Mercedes-Benz F200 concept in late 1996. Being a Mercedes flagship vehicle worldwide, the S-Class largely popularized the theme. It demonstrated a significantly different stylistic mindset, with both exterior lines and an interior design that expressed elegance and modernity. This can be seen as a response to criticism on its W140 predecessor, which had a more boxy look.

Despite being smaller, the new car was roomier inside while the dashboard carried over the new styling details first seen in the Mk I A-Class the year before.

Rear design of the W220 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

A facelifted version of the S-Class was designed in late 2000 and introduced in September 2002, offering a more aerodynamic front-end and redesigned taillights, though the exterior style remained largely unchanged from the previous W220 models. Although the facelift only made minor changes to the exterior, it addressed several of the issues in the COMAND system and other interior features. Exterior updates included a more upright grille angle, new transparent housing for the headlamps (replacing the earlier translucent versions), and restyled lower air intakes on the front bumper.

The S600 series has a "V12" badge affixed to either side of the car, just forward of the front doors and back from the wheel wells.

The first W220 S-Class rolled off the assembly line on August 13, 1998.


Chassis code Years Model Engine Fuel consumption
W220.063 1998–2006 S280 sedan 2.8L V6 M112 E28
W220.163 1998–2006 S280 L sedan 2.8L V6 M112 E28
W220.065 1998–2006 S320 sedan 3.2L V6 M112 E32
W220.165 1998–2006 S320 L sedan 3.2L V6 M112 E32
W220.067 2003–2006 S350 sedan 3.7L V6 M112 E37 11.9 L/100 km (23.7 mpg-imp; 19.8 mpg-US)[5]
W220.087 2003–2006 S350 4Matic sedan 3.7L V6 M112 E37
W220.167 2003–2006 S350 L sedan 3.7L V6 M112 E37 11.9 L/100 km (23.7 mpg-imp; 19.8 mpg-US)[5]
W220.187 2003–2006 S350 L 4Matic sedan 3.7L V6 M112 E37
W220.070 1998–2006 S430 sedan 4.3L V8 M113 E43
W220.083 2002–2006 S430 4Matic sedan 4.3L V8 M113 E43
W220.170 1998–2006 S430 L sedan 4.3L V8 M113 E43
W220.183 2002–2006 S430 L 4Matic sedan 4.3L V8 M113 E43
W220.075 1998–2006 S500 sedan 5.0L V8 M113 E50 12.9 L/100 km (21.9 mpg-imp; 18.2 mpg-US)[5]
W220.084 2002–2006 S500 4Matic sedan 5.0L V8 M113 E50
W220.175 1998–2006 S500 L sedan 5.0L V8 M113 E50 12.9 L/100 km (21.9 mpg-imp; 18.2 mpg-US)[5]
W220.184 2002–2006 S500 L 4Matic sedan 5.0L V8 M113 E50
W220.178 1998–2002 S600 L sedan 5.8L V12 M137 14.8 L/100 km (19.1 mpg-imp; 15.9 mpg-US)[5]
W220.176 2003–2006 S600 L sedan 5.5L twin-turbocharged V12 M275 14.8 L/100 km (19.1 mpg-imp; 15.9 mpg-US)[5]
W220.073 2000–2001 S55 AMG sedan 5.4L V8 M113 E55
W220.173 2000–2001 S55 L AMG sedan 5.4L V8 M113 E55
W220.074 2002–2006 S55 AMG sedan 5.4L supercharged V8 M113 ML55
W220.174 2002–2006 S55 L AMG sedan 5.4L supercharged V8 M113 ML55
W220.179 2005–2006 S65 AMG sedan 6.0L twin-turbocharged V12 M275 AMG
W220.026 2000–2002 S320 CDI 3.2L Common rail turbo diesel I6 OM613
W220.126 2000–2002 S320 L CDI 3.2L Common rail turbo diesel I6 OM613
W220.025 2003–2006 S320 CDI 3.2L Common rail turbo diesel I6 OM648 7.8 L/100 km (36.2 mpg-imp; 30.2 mpg-US)[5]
W220.125 2003–2006 S320 L CDI 3.2L Common rail turbo diesel I6 OM648 7.8 L/100 km (36.2 mpg-imp; 30.2 mpg-US)[5]
W220.028 2000–2006 S400 CDI 4.0L Common rail turbo diesel V8 OM628 9.6 L/100 km (29.4 mpg-imp; 24.5 mpg-US)[5]
W220.128 2000–2006 S400 L CDI 4.0L Common rail turbo diesel V8 OM628 9.6 L/100 km (29.4 mpg-imp; 24.5 mpg-US)[5]

North American models[edit]

Mercedes-Benz S430 in the USA

Approximate selection of US models. In the USA, model years for the W220 were 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 (only some versions). Not all versions were available in all model years.

  • S350 (in the US this was available in 2006 only; had 3.7L V6 and 5-speed Automatic transmission) [6]
  • S430
  • S500
  • S600 (naturally-aspirated or twin-turbo V12)
  • S55 AMG (naturally-aspirated or supercharged V8)
  • S65 AMG (604 hp twin-turbo V12)[7]

Some models had options for Sport package, Designo, and/or 4matic.

In the United States the W220 was introduced for the 2000 model year, the W140 until 1999.[8] They type was noted as being the leader in the U.S. car market for luxury cars, and early reviews were mostly positive but noted the amount of money that could be spent on options.[8] At the time the US was the second biggest buyer of S-Classes, after Germany.[9] In 1999 Mercedes-Ben sold 189,437 and hoped to exceed that the next year.[10] One automotive magazine spent several thousands on options for their review of the 2001 S-Class.[8] After choosing an S500, they added Distronic (a smart cruise control system), Active Ventilated Seats, the "Timeport" phone with a voice control system, and the sport package (AMG rims and trim).[8] This is increased the price from the mid 70 thousands USD to the 90s after delivery and taxes.[8] Other US models available at this time were the S430, S500, S55 (AMG model), and S600 (the V12).[8] A four-wheel drive system became an option for 2003 for the S430 and S500 along with a mide-life upgrades that targeted a range of interior and exterior features.[8] In the last U.S. W220 model year a V-6 was offered as the S350.[6] Another special option was called the "Designo", which matched special interior and exterior colors and materials.[9] An example of this is that one such model used Elm tree wood in the interior.[9] There were two designo additions offered, the Designo Espresso Edition and the Designo Silver Edition[11] The twelve-cylinder S600 included interior upgrades including an increased amount of leather over more interior surfaces.[11]

The W220 based S65 AMG was also offered in 2006 concurrently with the new W221.[12] The S65 had a 604 hp, 738 lb-ft twin-turbo V-12 and misc other features inside and out.[12] It retailed that year in the United States for about 180 thousand USD.[12] The V-12 had a displacement of 6 liters, single overhead cam configuration, and 36 valves (valves let air into the engine and exhast gas out) matched to two turbochargers.[13] The S65 had four oval tail-pipes and AMG alloy wheels.[14]

Specific versions[edit]

One of the most popular versions was the Long-wheel base S500, with over 108 thousand produced over the model run.[14] On top of that an additional over 13 thousand all-wheel drive S500 version were made and over 21 thousand short-wheel base S500 models.[14] This works out to about 140 thousand S500 of all versions across all model years out of 485 thousand of all W220 models over its production run.[14] The W220's peak sales year was 2000, with 88 thousand sold worldwide, but both 1999 and 2001 were close with well over 80 thousand sold in those years also.[14] Two unique models that had small runs were a factory produced 160 inch wheelbase "stretch limo" called a pullman and special security version called S-Guard.[14]

Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG[edit]

A Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG

One model line of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in this period was the AMG version S55.[15] The S55 had a number of modifications over the stock W220 S-Class, and the changes were oriented towards higher automotive performance and more dramatic styling features compared to the regular models.[15] The model name derives from displacement of the engine, a special almost 5.5 litre V8.[15] The early model had a naturally aspirated version with 355 hp, and starting in 2003 it switched to supercharged version with 493 hp.[16]

The additional power-boost came for the later model S55 from pairing this engine with a supercharger.[15] A supercharger is a forced induction system that compresses the air before in enters the engine, and uses air compressor powered by a belt connected to the engine.[17] The engine peak output on the S55 was 493 horsepower and 516 ft-lbs. of torque.[15] Other changes include enhanced breaks and wheels, with 14.2 inch breaking discs in the front 13 inch discs in the rear.[15] The S55 was equipped with Active Body Control also.[15] The supercharged S55 models had the Kompressor (Mercedes-Benz) badge on the side. For more about AMG models with this engine see Mercedes-AMG#.2255.22 5.4.C2.A0L V8 KOMPRESSOR

Mercedes-Benz S600[edit]

A Mercedes Benz S600

The S600 was the main 12-cylinder engine model of the W220 body. The increased output of the engine enabled this W220 to keep up with a Ferrari 575M Maranello according to one Automotive magazine of the era (The 575M also had 12-cylinder engine at that time).[18] The 2003 S600 could achieve 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and 100 mph in 9.7 seconds.[18] It was a tenth of second faster than the Ferrari in a quarter mile test, with the S600 achieving in 12.5 seconds and 115 mph.[18] It could stop from 70 mph in 164 feet with the OEM tires in that same testing.[18] The 2003 model had a Sensotronic braking system and the suspension used the ABC system which combined an hydraulic system and springs.[18] The 2003 model was fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport tires with a Y rating.[18] In the USA the 2001 S600 had a 5.8 liter V-12 making 362 horsepower at 5500 RPM and up to 391 foot-pounds of torque at 4100 rpm.[19] The 2003 model update had updated engine with 5.5 liter V-12 with twin turbo-chargers, producing 493 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque.[20]


A year 2000 S-Class showing the early model headlamps that were translucent but not quite transparent
Here is a later model with transparent (clear) headlamps

As with each new S-Class, the W220 was technologically advanced at the time of its launch, bringing in new innovations[21] such as Airmatic air suspension, Active Ventilated Seats (which used miniature fans in the seats to move air through perforations), keyless entry and ignition Distronic: the first worldwide radar-assisted Autonomous cruise control system, and a cylinder deactivation system called Active Cylinder Control for the S500 and S600 models, which improves fuel consumption and reduces emissions. All were pioneering innovations at the time of the W220's conception. There is standard features to all models, standard features to certain models, and finally optional features. Sometimes what is standard changes on a model year or country of sale.

4Matic all wheel drive was introduced to the North American S-Class for 2003, for the S430 and S500 as a $2180 USD option. This full-time system splits engine power 40/60 front/rear, with electronic traction control adjusting that mix to the wheels (or wheel) with the best traction in slippery conditions. [22]

It was the first Mercedes with curtain airbags (previewed by the F200 concept in 1996).

Details on some of the safety, comfort, and technological features are as follows:


Despite a wide range of safety technology, and being renowned for its high level of safety, one Canadian website said W220 S-Class was not actually tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or EuroNCAP, or at least the information was not available.[23] However, another website says that the W220 passed the legally prescribed EU front and side impact tests.[24] Increased attention to side impacts was noted, and the car included a window air bag that inflates between the A and C pillars.[24]

Passive safety features include various frames and bulkheads made out of alumunium and/or high-strength steel.[24] Also the front and rear ends include aluminum crash boxes can be replaced as separate units to reduce the cost of repairs.[24] Despite its price German insurance companies put it in the lower bracket because it was easier to repair.[24]

  • Pre-Safe, the integrated Mercedes-Benz collision avoidance and response system, debuted with the W220 S-Class facelift in late 2002.
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Brake Assist were standard features for difficult driving conditions and emergency maneuvers.
  • The W220 S-Class added standard front and rear side curtain airbags. In total, the W220 features 8 airbags: 2 frontal (driver and passenger), 4 side airbags (one in each door) and 2 window-airbags.[25]
  • LED brake lights were also standard issue on the W220. LED brake lights illuminate faster than conventional bulbs.

Comfort and convenience[edit]

Interior of a right-hand drive 2001 model, showing the pre-facelift console setup
  • Distronic cruise control, which could maintain a set distance between the S-Class and any vehicle in front.
  • Speedtronic adjustable speed limiter for not exceeding a set speed on roads with speed limits.
  • Keyless Go, a smart key entry and startup system.
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers.
  • Light sensors to turn the headlights on and off automatically, depending on lighting circumstances. The instrument display and the COMAND screen's backlight and colour also adjust automatically depending on the ambient light situation.
  • Parktronic visual and audible parking aid, with sensors in the front and rear bumpers. Also, the passenger side mirror can swivel down automatically when engaging reverse, to help see the curb.
  • Automatically heated exterior mirrors.
  • Fully automatic climate control system with pollen and charcoal filters and optional separate rear-seat climate controls.
  • COMAND system combines the controls for audio systems, the television, the navigation and the telephone. COMAND based cars offer higher quality audio compared to the Audio 10 system.
  • Optional BOSE sound system.
  • Summer Open/Close - Ability to open and close all four windows and the sunroof at the sametime upon entry and/or exit from the vehicle.
  • Self opening and closing trunk.
  • Self-closing doors.
  • Electrically adjustable seats are standard. Optional were the memory function for the seats (standard in many countries on the larger engine models) and the multi-contour backrests with massage function.
  • Easy entry/exit function.
  • Auto-dimming interior and driver's side exterior rear view mirrors to prevent being dazzled by cars behind.
  • Xenon headlamps (bi-xenons starting from late 2002 facelift. These provide HID xenon lighting for both low and high beams).
  • Linguatronic voice recognition system which can be used to control the audio system, navigation system, and a cellular telephone through voice commands.
1999–2002 Mercedes-Benz S430
Same model from the front.

The Linguatronic voice control was introduced as on option in 1996 on the W140 S-Class.[26] At that time it was primarily for controlling the car phone, and could understand 30 words.[26] The second generation of this system was introduced in 2000.[26] On the W220 this second generation system could understand more words and control more systems, such as the radio.[26] In 2000 it could understand 300 words and control certain features on the phone, radio, CD player, and other systems.[26] The second generation system needed 20 times the memory of the first generation system (from about half megabyte to twenty megabytes).[26] The algorthims used in the system were developed at Ulm, Germany where what was then called DaimlerChrysler Research and Technology center was located in addition to other groups within the company.[26] The system listens to the person's voice and records frequencies which are then analyzed by a computer and its software.[27] The system looks for patterns called phonemes to understand what the person is saying, a process which it computes in milli-seconds.[27]

What system the voice command can control can depend on the model year.[27] In 2000 it could control the car phone, the radio, and the CD player (if installed) but in 2002 the navigation system was also added to its domain.[27] An original goal of the Linguatronic system was to allow essentially hands-free control of interior systems, especially the car phone by using spoken words.[14] This means there is microphone (located in the W220 S-Class) that can listen to the person; one of the issues is hearing the person over background noises and echos.[14] The Lingutronic system used digital pre-processing to achieve support this task.[14] The features is run from hardware in a separate box in the back of the car.[14]

Drivetrain technologies[edit]

  • The W220 featured a new pneumatic suspension system (Airmatic) with Adaptive Damping System (ADS) which adjust the shock absorbers to difficult road conditions. Drivers can select a comfort or two sports suspension programmes via a switch on the dash. The hydraulic Active Body Control (ABC) system (premiere in 1999 on the Mercedes-Benz C215 coupe) is technically more advanced than Airmatic and keeps the car level even in fast corners, provides a comfort and sports setting. Also, the car height can be increased by using a button, increasing ground clearance (2 settings) for driving on difficult terrain. Higher end models (e.g., S600, ABC available only) lower themselves automatically at higher speeds.

Variation in features[edit]

There was a set of standard features, then differences between models other than just the engine, and then also various options that could be added to any given model.[11]

The basic model had Calyptus wood (possibly Eucalyptus tree), the S500 added burl walnut trim Walnut tree, the Designo Espresso edition had Elm wood trim (Elm tree), and the Designo Silver edition had Maple wood trim (see Maple tree)[11]

  • Major features: 5 automatic Transmission with manual control mode, Airmatic Air Suspension with Adaptive Damping System (ADS), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Automatic Slip Control (ASR), Leather Upholstery,14 Way Power Driver and Front Passenger Seats, each with 3 Position Memory, 4-way (tilt/telescoping) power steering column, Dual Zone Climate Control (for driver and front passenger) but also separate vents for rear passengers, Hand-polished Calyptus wood trim on dash, console, doors and shift gate, COMAND data system (integrates audio, phone, navigation control), Bose AM/FM stereo/weatherband radio, concealed autoreverse cassette player, and controls for CD changer and phone with a color-LCD in-dash screen, CD navigation system (integrated with COMMAND), TeleAid telecommunications service, Pneumatic door and trunk closing assist (this does not close from fully open), headlamp high pressure washers, power retractable mirrors,Front and rear ventilated disc brakes[11]
    • The S500, besides switching the engine added Nappa leather, a heated front seat, walnut wood trim, and Xenon high beam lights.[11]
    • The S600's major change was the V-12, however it also included a range of other options including increased amount of leather on the interior, 4 heated and powered seats, four-zone (as opposed to two zone) climate control, parktronic (a object detection/warning feature)[11] Many of these were offered as independent on options on other models also.[11]
  • Some major S-class options included Active Body Control, Keyless Go, Tire pressure monitoring system, and Electronic trunk closer, Designo and AMG packages, and various interior packages especially for seats and climate options[11]

Examples of stock exterior paint colors/names offered included (in this case for the '06 S65):[28] Alabaster White, Almandine Black Metallic, Black, Black Opal Metallic, Bordeaux Red Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Capri Blue Metallic, Desert Silver Metallic, Everest Green Metallic, Flint Grey Metallic, Granite Grey Metallic, Horizon Blue Metallic, Midnight Blue, Obsidian Black, Pewter Metallic, designo Graphite, designo Mocha Black Metallic[28]

Integrated car phone systems[edit]

Phone systems offered during its model run include the Motorola Startac, carried over from W140 and offered in the first model year but replaced by the Mercedes-Benz/Motorola Timeport.[29] Later, Mercedes-Benz offered the Motorola V60 as the car phone.[29]

The "Timeport" phone with a voice control system was offered as on option on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.[8] The Timeport phone was similar to a Motorola Startac.[30] In 2000 Mercedes and telecommunications and electronics's company Motorola announced they would offer the Timeport cell phone system on all models in the year 2001.[10] The Timeport cell-phone was a jointly developed and became available on all of Mercedes 2001 models(including the 2001 W220 S-Class)[10] The Timeport phone was integrated with S-Class systems and some major features were Voice-control and things like that the radio would be automatically muted when accepting an incoming call (or tape or CD player).[10] Another features was that the directory of numbers in the phone could be downloaded to the car, and shown on the in-car display.[10] Even though the phone was integrated as a system with car, it was portable handset that could be removed from the car.[10] The cell-phone had an electro-luminescent Organic display with multiple colors available.[10] The Mercedes-Benz Timeport phones were the only ones in the StarTac family to have the organic-luminescent display.[31] (see also OLED)


A Mercedes Benz S430
A Mercedes-Benz S350
A Mercedes-Benz S500

The W220 was available with more engine options than the W126 or W140. The range started with a smaller 2.8L 197 hp (147 kW) V6 motor. Very popular was the 3.2L 224 hp (167 kW) V6, which was superseded by an enlarged 3.7L 245 hp (183 kW) V6 in the S350. Despite their popularity, the 6-cylinder S-Class cars were not imported in all countries, notably in North America where the short-wheelbase S430 with its 4.3L 279 hp (208 kW) V8 was the entry-level model.

The S430, the only United States market S-Class available with a short wheelbase as well as long wheelbase, was that region's most popular model and powered by a 4.3L 279 hp (208 kW) V8 that avoids the federal government's Gas Guzzler Tax of $1000. The S500 was powered by a 5.0L 302 hp (225 kW) V8.[22][32]

The S55 AMG ('01-'02) was outfitted with a 5.4L 354 hp (264 kW) V8 motor while the later versions ('03-'06) sported the same motor, but supercharged to a rated 493 hp (368 kW). The S600 ('01-'02) was outfitted with a 5.8L 362 hp (270 kW) V12 engine while the later versions ('03-'06) sported a twin-turbocharged (or Bi-Turbo) 493 hp (368 kW) 5.5L V12. The justification for having two models with the same power (S600 and S55 AMG) is that the S55 AMG is sportier and more responsive, while the costlier S600 is more luxurious with a smoother ride.

For one month in 2001, AMG produced the S63 AMG, which was sold in very limited numbers. The S63 was powered by a 6.3L 444 hp (331 kW) V12. An undisclosed number of the cars were sold exclusively through AMG in European and Asian markets. In the succeeding W221 S-Class, the S63 AMG badge was reused for cars powered by the 6.2L V8 and later the 5.5L twin turbo V8.

The S65 AMG was introduced for 2005. Powered by a Bi-Turbo 6.0L 612 hp (456 kW) V12 motor, the S65 was the most powerful S-Class, as well as the world's most powerful five-seat sedan with output of 612 hp (456 kW) and 738 ft·lbf (1,001 N·m) of torque.

The S400 CDI had 250 hp (186 kW) at first but got 260 hp (194 kW) later on. The type designation S400 CDI was changed in the W221 generation to S420.

W220 was the first generation of S-Class, where automatic transmission was standard on all models. At first, all cars had 5-speed 5G-Tronic transmission, since 2003 S430 and S500 were instead offered with the new 7-speed 7G-Tronic transmission.

Model Engine Cyl. Power Torque
S280 2.8 18V V6 197 PS (145 kW; 194 hp) 270 N·m (199 lb·ft)
S320 3.2 18V V6 224 PS (165 kW; 221 hp) 315 N·m (232 lb·ft)
S350 3.7 18V V6 245 PS (180 kW; 242 hp) 350 N·m (258 lb·ft)
S430 4.3 24V V8 279 PS (205 kW; 275 hp) 400 N·m (295 lb·ft)
S500 (2000–06) 5.0 24V V8 306 PS (225 kW; 302 hp) 460 N·m (339 lb·ft)
S600 (2001–02) 5.8 36V V12 367 PS (270 kW; 362 hp) 530 N·m (391 lb·ft)
S600 (2002–05) 5.5 36V Bi-Turbo V12 500 PS (368 kW; 493 hp) 800 N·m (590 lb·ft)
S55 AMG (2001–02) 5.4 24V AMG V8 360 PS (265 kW; 355 hp) 530 N·m (391 lb·ft)
S55 AMG (2003–06) 5.4 24V SC AMG V8 500 PS (368 kW; 493 hp) 700 N·m (516 lb·ft)
S63 AMG (2001) 6.3 24V AMG V12 444 PS (327 kW; 438 hp) 738 N·m (544 lb·ft)
S65 AMG (2005–06) 6.0 36V Bi-Turbo AMG V12 612 PS (450 kW; 604 hp) 1,001 N·m (738 lb·ft)
S320 CDI 3.2 24V CDI I6 197 PS (145 kW; 194 hp) 470 N·m (347 lb·ft)
S320 CDI 3.2 24V CDI I6 204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp) 500 N·m (369 lb·ft)
S400 CDI 4.0 32V CDI V8 250 PS (184 kW; 247 hp) 560 N·m (413 lb·ft)
S400 CDI 4.0 32V CDI V8 260 PS (191 kW; 256 hp) 560 N·m (413 lb·ft)

Certificates and reports[edit]

In 2005, the S-Class was the first vehicle to receive a TÜV Institute environmental certificate from the German Commission on Technical Compliance for environmentally friendly components.[33] The improved environmental efficiency of the W220 manufacture process was judged approvingly.

Edmunds gave the S-Class a 5 out of 5 reliability rating[34] and MSN Autos assign an expert rating of 9.0 out of 10.[35] By March 2011, Consumer Reports had changed its reliability ratings for the 2001 and 2002 S-Class as having improved to "average". Build quality was generally considered to be good. For instance, Forbes described the W220 S500 as "built remarkably well."[36] Early W220s were recalled for issues with the trunk spring and the hydraulic fuel line; there were no recalls for the 2005 or 2006 model years.


S430 in Australia

In 2006, nearly 24,000 (95%) S-Class sold in China between late 1998 and early 2005 were recalled due to a fuel tank defect.[37] The recall was limited to the S-Class cars sold in China; S-Class models sold elsewhere were unaffected.

Examples of recalls in Australia include:[38]

  • 2000, a recall for the heater blower overheating issue[38]
  • 2004, for the V12 with ABC hydraulic line
  • 2004, for a Blower fuse overheating in certain hot conditions[38]
  • 2007, a ABC hydrlic line could leak near hot engine components[38]

Some other issues were noted with sensors or other components being potentially being damaged by water and/or heat.[38] The model is also called the V220 (as opposed to W220)[38]


All model years used a 5-speed transmission until a 7-speed came out.[39] In the U.S. market the 7 speed was the standard transmission on S430 and S500 models in 2004 unless they had the four wheel drive (MB name: 4matic) option.[39] Also, the S600 and AMG models still used the 5 speed transmission.[39] However, the next year MB the S430 4matic also use the 7 speed transmission.[39]

Maintenance/design features[edit]

One Canadian car site noted that older W220's can offer impressive features for the cost, provided that owners continue to maintain the vehicle.[23] They noted a few key issues on later models including the air suspension and interior electronics.[23] They also noted that over its production run Mercedes-benz fixed many issues and there is also considerable variation in models depending how they were eqipped.[23]

Ventilation drain[edit]

One of critical owner maintenance issues is the main ventilation drain (these are below the vents at the back of the hood/bonnet and below windshield). If this drain becomes clogged such as from leaves or snow it can overflow, flooding the passenger compartment.[40] When it overflows in can short out wiring in the car.[40] This is called the reed valve and needs to be kept clear.[38]

This issue was the subject of a Class-action lawsuit in the U.S. State of California.[41]

The suit alleged that .. " alleging, among other things, that the reed valve in the air/water duct in 2001-2006 model year Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220) and Mercedes-Benz CL-Class (W215) vehicles is susceptible to clogging by leaves, pine needles and other debris, which can cause water to accumulate in the air/water duct and to overflow into the passenger compartment, possibly resulting in damage to electrical and other components.."
—  [41]

In 2010 the United State's Judge Howard Matz ruled on the settlement about this issue.[41]

Suspension and the AIRmatic system[edit]

Airmatic, or AIRmatic stands for Adaptive Intelligent Ride Control and was not just an air suspesnion but also electronic and software control system that actively adjust the level of dampening.[24] This allows for example, the car to automatically lower itself down at high speeds and keep the car balanced despite loads inside the car.[24] The car can also be manually controlled to raise the car up if going for example over rough roads.[24] The standard W220's have a four-wheel air suspension called Airmatic by Mercedes-Benz, rather than the more common "springs and shocks". Some models had a hydraulic system called ABC, which was an optional upgrade (so almost any model may have ABC) but it was also a standard feature on certain models. ABC stands for Active Body Control.[39] The Airmatic main components are an air-pump, airlines going to each wheel, and four air-struts.[42] The air pump is located in front diver side behind a splashguard near the wheel.[42] If the car is sitting really low over the wheels it often means that the air pump has failed and cannot send pressure to each wheel.[42] On the other hand, if it is just one wheel then it may be that a single strut has failed.[42] Some aftermarket companies have made kits converting the W220 to a spring and strut design.[43] Mercedes-Benz has also improved and changed the Airmatic pump over the course of time.[42] If there is leak that is small the car can sink down slowly over a few days, but then the pump may re-pressurize when the car is running.[39] If the air-pump runs too much it may burn out leading the aforementioned problem with pump not working.[39]

The lower control arm in the previous S-Class was switched to a spring link and torque strut.[24]

Legacy and related vehicles[edit]

The Mercedes Benz CL Class from 1999-2006, the C215, was based on this S-Class Chassis
Maybach 62 interior



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  10. ^ a b c d e f g Motorola and Mercedes-Benz to Offer Automotive Industry's First Integrated, Dual-Band Phone
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  12. ^ a b c 2006 Mercedes AMG S65 Review
  13. ^ Edmunds 06 S65
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mercedes-Benz S-Class 1972-2013 By James Taylor Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "book" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Mercedes S55 AMG Review
  16. ^ Ed’s Car History: 2002 Mercedes S55 AMG
  17. ^ Differences Between Superchargers And Turbochargers
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  19. ^ 2001 Mercedes-Benz S600
  20. ^ Mercedes S600 Review By Robert Farago on May 5, 2003
  21. ^ Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W 220 series (1998 to 2005)
  22. ^ a b "2004 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review, Prices, Photos". New Car Test Drive. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  23. ^ a b c d Cananada autos - PAge 2
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mercedes W220 S-Class 1999 – 2005
  25. ^ "Autoweb - New, Mercedes S-class Sets Automotive Technology Benchmark". Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
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  33. ^ "S-Class Voted Fleet News Luxury Car of The Year For Fifth Time". Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
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  35. ^ "MSN Auto S-Class reliability rating". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  36. ^ Elliott, Hannah. "Forbes Mercedes-Benz W220 S-Class test drive". Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  37. ^ Waterman, Stuart (2006-03-03). "Mercedes-Benz recalls S-Class in China". Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  38. ^ a b c d e f g Recals
  39. ^ a b c d e f g Used Vehicle Review: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, 2000-2006
  40. ^ a b Buyers' guide: Mercedes-Benz S-class W220 (1999-2005)
  41. ^ a b c Mercedes-Benz Class Action Settlement Of Class Action Lawsuit Over Mercedes-Benz S-Class W220 and Mercedes-Benz CL-Class W215 Reed Valve Water Leakage on August 12, 2010
  42. ^ a b c d e Mercedes W220, S Class Airmatic Pump Replacement
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Workshop manuals[edit]

  • Mercedes-Benz Technical Companion. Cambridge, MA, USA: Bentley Publishers. 2005. ISBN 9780837610337. 

External links[edit]