While constantly evolving, Mercedes-Benz has nonetheless stood squarely for excellence throughout its existence, especially when it comes to its premium offerings. Yes, everything that Mercedes-Benz builds has that aura of technical superiority, but the notion is particularly pronounced when you consider its premium cars, the S-class, which are often considered limousines in their home market. The S-class was fully redone for 2020, now upgraded to include available all-wheel steering and over-the-air update capability for more than 50 digital or electronic functions. Known internally as the 223 model series, the 2020 S-class stands as the 11th generation of Mercedes-Benz’s large passenger car, a lineage that can trace itself back to the first 220 sedan of 1951. This photo, captured at the Immendingen test track, demonstrates how far these highly coveted sedans have progressed in just their more recent iterations.
Engineering is everything with this marque; always has been. The 220 sedan of 1951 pioneered the conical-pin door lock that’s simply the best component of its sort ever designed. The “fintail” Benzes from 1959 forward featured the industry’s first passenger safety cell with crumple zones, along with disc brakes and air suspension. The next generation, the W109, included the fabled 300 SEL 6.3, the first true German muscle sedan. If you’re of a certain age, however, your fave will likely be the 116 model series that arrived in 1972, the first generation of these cars to be called the S-class. This series include the 450 SE and SEL, whose contemporary notices from the global motoring press termed it the best sedan in automotive history. And that was before Bosch-developed antilock braking first appeared in 1978 as an option. Within two years, ABS was standard across the board for all Mercedes-Benz models. That’s the kind of progress these cars have exhibited as long as they’ve been around.