50 Years of Range Rover - Here's how the world's most-popular luxury SUV evolved over the years!

While 2020 has been a year to forget for almost everybody, Land Rover had reasons to celebrate. Their flagship Range Rover turned 50 this year!

From being a single model positioned at the top of the Land Rover line-up in 1970 to a full-blown sub-brand of sorts with a four-strong lineup in 2020, Range Rover has come a long way in these 50 years. With each successive generation, Range Rover kept moving up the ladder in terms of price and positioning, always offering customers an enticing combination of ultimate luxury with go-anywhere prowess. Just as well as Range Rover was one of the pioneers of "luxury off-roading" when introduced.

For me, the best aspect of Range Rover has to be the fact those off-roading credentials do not come at the expense of aesthetics. The iconic silhouette, clamshell hood, floating roof and continuous waistline have all stood the test of time, evolving over the years to look fresh and contemporary.

As 2020 draws to a close, I thought it would be good to wrap up the year with a post dedicated to Range Rover's evolution and the many feats it accomplished along the way.


The 4x4 leisure market was growing worldwide and Jeep was making merry with its Wagoneer. Land Rover felt it's Defender was too basic to suit lifestyle audiences and take the fight to the Jeep. After making the first prototype in 1966 and fine-tuning it over the next four years, Land Rover introduced the Range Rover to critical acclaim in 1970. 


  • It took 12 years for Range Rover to reach the production milestone of 100,000 units
  • Sales rose over the next two decades with production crossing 500,000 units in 2002
  • Over the last decade and half, Range Rover has been the growth engine for Jaguar-Land Rover contributing significantly in terms of volumes as well as revenue

Fun Facts

  • Range Rover has featured in over 1,400 movies and television shows
  • Range Rover has starred in five James Bond movies; That's just two short of Sean Connery and Roger Moore - both of whom starred in the lead role in 7 movies - and more than all other actors that have played James Bond
  • Range Rover has been a popular choice amongst celebrities globally; Well-known personalities to have owned Range Rover include Her Majesty the Queen, basketball legend Michael Jordan, Hollywood star Tom Cruise, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, Indian skipper Virat Kohli and a whole gamut of Bollywood stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Anushka Sharma
  • At the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover did the unthinkable and unveiled the Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept; While many thought the world's first luxury SUV convertible would remain a concept, Land Rover went ahead and put it into production from late 2015
  • A near-identical copycat of the Range Rover Evoque exists in China (where else?) in the form of Landwind X7

Staying true to its roots while remaining relevant over a span of 50 years is no mean feat. Range Rover has accomplished just that. So, how did the model evolve over the years? 

Read on, to find out.

First Generation (1970 - 1994) 

Now fondly called the Classic, the original Range Rover was only available as a two-door model with an aluminum Rover V8 engine, full-time four-wheel-drive and all-wheel disc brakes. It struck a chord with buyers almost immediately. The rest, as they say, is history.

It wasn't until 1981 Land Rover found the need to add a four-door model to the line-up. Though the initial models were fairly utilitarian with vinyl seats and washable dashboard made of plastic, convenience features like power steering, carpeted floors, air-conditioning, leather upholstery and wooden interior trim were added over the years. From becoming the world's first 4x4 to feature Anti-lock Braking System in 1989 to being the first-ever SUV equipped with electronic Traction Control System and automatic air suspension in 1992, this generation of Range Rovers had quite a few firsts to boast of in it's 25-year life span.

It was also during this period Range Rover's reputation for unrivalled all-terrain capability was cemented with a series of high-profile endurance runs.

  • In 1972, Range Rover became the first vehicle to complete an 18,000-mile Trans-America expedition staged by the British Army including crossing the dangerous Darien Gap in South America
  • In 1974, Range Rover completed a 7,500-mile trek across the Sahara Desert in just 100 days
  • In 1977, Range Rover topped the 4x4 class of the 18,750-mile London-Sydney marathon, the longest-ever speed-based rally
  • In 1979, Range Rover won the first-ever Paris-Dakar rally followed by another triumph in 1981

The classic Range Rover finally bowed out in 1996 after a 2-year overlap with its successor and a production run of 317,615 units.

Second Generation (1994 - 2001)

Internally named 'P38a' after the building in which it was developed, the second-generation Range Rover debuted in 1994 offering better off-road capability, better on-road behaviour, more luxurious interiors and technological advancements including an advanced electronic air suspension. The powertrain lineup expanded as well with the V8 petrol engine now available in 3.9-liter and 4.6-liter displacements in addition to a BMW-sourced 2.5-liter diesel.

In 1999, Land Rover joined hands with furniture designer Lord Linley to come up with what was the most luxurious and the most expensive Range Rover then. Inching past the six-figure price barrier (It was priced £100,000 at launch), the Linley special edition featured a hand-finished black paint job, bespoke interiors finished with black leather upholstery, piano black trim inserts and uncommon niceties like an on-board television, VCR player and satellite navigation. Just ten of these were made, making it one of the most exclusive Range Rovers you can lay your hands on!

Third Generation (2001-2012)

Range Rover entered the new millennium with the arrival of the bigger, more spacious and more luxurious third generation model, codenamed L322. As a result of this upmarket move, Range Rover had a cabin that would serve an S-Class owner just right! It was a big deal, given that none of the off-road chops Range Rovers were known for had been compromised.

Planned and developed under BMW ownership, the L322 Range Rover shared a lot of its components with the 7-Series initially. Powering this generation were V8 petrol engines from BMW until 2005 and Jaguar after that. Diesel mills were sourced from BMW first and Ford later. Technological highlights include the addition of 'virtual' instrument cluster in 2010 and the first-in-industry dual-view infotainment display. It's remarkable how both of those high-end features of the day have filtered down to entry-level cars these days.

This generation saw the nameplate expand with the introduction of the Range Rover Sport in 2005 and the Range Rover Evoque in 2011. Both of these models have established themselves as successful off-shoots of the Range Rover nameplate and are currently in their second generation.

Fourth Generation (2012 onwards)

2012 saw the introduction of the fourth-generation Range Rover, codenamed L405. Bragging rights this time came in the form of its aluminium construction, a leaf taken out of Jaguar's book. By becoming the world's first SUV to make significant use of the light metal, this generation of Range Rovers benefitted from reduced weight, improved strength and increased efficiency. 

As it did with every prior generation, Range Rover moved further upmarket in price and positioning. The fact that exterior styling and interior appointments matched that move helped its cause. Engine options include 3.0-liter V6 petrol, 5.0-liter V8 petrol, 3.0-liter V6 diesel and 4.4-liter V8 diesel paired to a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission.

The inevitable electrification happened in 2013 with the first Range Rover Hybrid making its debut. Other high points include the launch of the Range Rover Sport SVR - the world's fastest SUV at the time - in 2014 and the addition of the sexy Velar as the fourth model of the Range Rover line-up in 2018.

During this tenure, Range Rover was back doing what it did best in its first iteration.

  • In 2013, three Range Rover Hybrids completed a 9,950-mile endurance expedition following the ancient Silk Route from the UK to India
  • In 2018, a Range Rover Sport Plug-in Hybrid became the first vehicle ever to climb the towering 45-degree, 999-step staircase to Heaven's Gate in China 

Range Rover Fifty

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Range Rover, Land Rover introduced the Range Rover Fifty earlier this year. Based on the Autobiography trim level, this special edition is an ode to the original Range Rover with a production run that's limited to 1,970 units. Yes, you got that right. 1970 was when the Range Rover was originally introduced.

Being a special commemorative edition, the Range Rover Fifty gets a slew of bespoke features like exterior accents painted in Auric Atlas (that's black for you and me), unique 22-inch alloy wheels, a special colour palette including Tuscan Blue, Bahama Gold and Davos White that are replicated from the original's palette. A special 'Fifty' script can be seen on the exterior badging, headrests, dashboard and the illuminated doorsills. There's also a '1 of 1970' badge on the center console to remind owners of their ride's exclusivity.

What does the future hold?

With the current-generation model on its final legs, a new Range Rover is likely to debut in the next year or two. With electrification and autonomy being the buzz words in the industry, I'm sure the new Range Rover is going to embrace one or both of them in some form or the other. It's going to be interesting. Just wait for the baton to be passed on!


Porsche rolls out one-millionth Cayenne

When Porsche took the wraps off the Cayenne at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, it left the show-goers, fans and automotive enthusiasts across the world shocked. 

What were they thinking? How can Porsche – known for their pure-bred sportscars like the iconic 911 – think of making an odd-looking SUV like this? What a crazy decision, this! These were just some of the questions and statements hurled at the German car-maker. Guess what? Porsche had the last laugh. 

In just over 18 years, Porsche has rolled out 1 million units of the Cayenne from its assembly line at Leipzig, Germany. The landmark model was a GTS painted in Carmine Red, headed to a German customer. 

In all these years, the Cayenne has gone through three generation changes, defied physics with its incredible handling despite riding high off the ground, made its mark in the tough Transsyberia Rally on more than one occasion, holds a Guinness World Record for towing the gargantuan Airbus A380, blossomed into a handsome brute of an SUV, spawned the trendy Cayenne Coupe and forced brands from Lamborghini to Rolls-Royce to sit up and take notice. That it managed all of these looking right at home in the porch of a 5-star hotel as well as traversing through slush and snow makes the Cayenne Porsche's ultimate all-rounder.

Debuting at a time when the SUV boom was still in its infancy, the Cayenne was well-placed to capitalize as demand for high-riding vehicles like these soared across segments and price bands. As a result, Porsche's luxury SUV bet saved the brand from folding up and sowed the seeds for the success and reputation it enjoys today.

With the Macan mimicking the same success formula in a smaller package, Porsche now has two best-sellers in its range bringing in all the money needed to develop their sports cars and more. So, the next time you see the brilliant new 911 out on the road, thank the Cayenne! 

Just so you know, the 911 took 54 years to achieve the same feat.


2022 Honda Civic previewed with a sleeker and more mature design

Honda has taken the wraps off the next generation of its perennial best-seller, the Civic. The new model – previewed in prototype form and expected to go on sale late next year – will be the eleventh generation of a car that continues to be a best-seller for Honda in key global markets.

At a time when several brands are ditching sedans in favour of high-riding crossovers and the rest are busy fighting for the glory of having the biggest grille ever on a car’s fascia, the new Civic comes across as refreshingly clean and sedate. Those two words would have given you the hint that Honda is betting on a contrasting strategy compared to the current Civic that’s all edgy and aggressive.

Up front are sleeker LED headlights, a more pronounced grille and a chiseled bumper housing a larger air dam. The profile continues to be athletic with a sharp shoulder line that runs the length of the car and a rising belt line that connects the fenders. The long hood, the kinked-up C-pillar and the mildly-flared wheel arches housing dark 19-inch wheels stand out. At the rear, taillights are now more conventional than the outgoing model and takes an horizontal shape that extends into the boot-lid. Dual exhaust pipes and an integrated trunk spoiler are cool and add a sporty touch as do the blackened elements all around the car. 

Interior pictures have not been released though Honda was kind enough to release a design sketch of the cabin. From the looks of it, the new Civic will have a simpler, cleaner layout with much emphasis placed on the horizontal elements. The dashboard has a trim piece with a mesh-like pattern behind which the air-conditioning vents appear concealed. All you see are small knobs for adjustment. Neat! A sporty, three-spoke steering wheel, digital instrument cluster and a tablet-like 9-inch infotainment screen that pops out of the dashboard are the other bits that are easily noticeable.

Knowing Honda, expect the production version to not look very different from this prototype inside and out. In addition to the sedan you see here, the new Civic will also be available as a hatchback like the current model. Of course, the sporty Si and Type-R trims would join the line-up as well. Riding on the same platform as the outgoing model, expect the new Civic to carryover some or all of the engines, transmissions and suspension hardware. That would also mean the new Civic would continue to be a driver’s car in a segment that’s known to not offer much for those seeking driving pleasure. 

Now, don’t sulk. Skoda Octavia is more of an exception than a norm!

Coming back to the Civic, Honda has a lot riding on this. Ever since the nameplate debuted in 1972, the Civic has been a massive success and a consistent best-seller for the brand. The current tenth-generation model that debuted in 2016 is arguably the most successful Civic ever with over 1.5 million units sold just in the United States of America. China, Canada and Thailand are some of the many other markets where the car has enjoyed considerable success. The new Civic sure has big shoes to fill.


Who says minivans aren't cool? Look at the Porsche Vision Renndienst!

As part of activities surrounding the release of a new book called “Porsche Unseen”, the German car-maker has opened the virtual doors of its design studio at Weissach for a sneak peek into a handful of design studies the team created between 2005 and 2019. Of course, being experimental prototypes intended to test the creative limits of the design team while also helping to develop a long-term vision for the brand, these never made it outside the studio. Until now, that is.

While a race car-derived street sports car and a spartan roadster for the purists amongst others were studied as one would imagine from Porsche, what piqued my interest was a minivan. You read that right. But wait, don’t curse me. A 6-seat minivan from Porsche is real! 2020 is odd, indeed.

While you let that sink in, the Vision "Renndienst” - as Porsche calls it - is their design team’s interpretation of what a futuristic family van from the brand could look like. The result? An amazingly cool minivan that’s instantly desirable.

First up, the proportions are spot-on with all four wheels pushed off to the corners. The wheels themselves are massive housed inside muscular wheel arches that are flared just enough. The current design DNA of the brand is visible all through - from the quad-lights up front to the light bar running the width of the rear. Reducing the visual bulk of a minivan is quite a task and the team at Porsche has done that rather well using black inserts all around and a swanky greenhouse. Shown alongside an old Volkswagen T1, the differences in design and execution is understandably stark.

Inside, the Vision Renndienst is said to be equally funky with a central driver’s seat flanked by two passenger seats on either side placed slightly behind in a triangular layout. Apparently, there are seats to accommodate three more passengers behind. Keeping with the ‘futuristic’ theme, the Vision Renndienst is envisioned as a zero-emission full-electric vehicle with autonomous capabilities to boot. No further details have been shared.

How cool would it be to have one parked in your garage? Sadly, 1:1 isn’t going to be possible. Your best bet would be to wait for one of the many die-cast manufacturers to come out with a 1:18 or a 1:43 scale model and bring one of those little ones home.


Nissan previews next-gen Z sports car with this prototype

It’s official. A new Z is on the way! 

And the Z Proto - unveiled today by Nissan virtually - is a thinly-veiled preview of what’s headed our way in the not-so-distant future. 

With 50 years of heritage and legions of fans globally, the Z is not just an important model in Nissan’s glorious history but also has a key role to play in the brand’s NEXT transformation plan announced earlier this year. Yes, the next-generation Z – rumored to be called the 400Z - could just be the image catalyst the Japanese brand desperately needs right now!

In this day and age when unnecessary creases and cuts are becoming a norm, the Z prototype is clean and simple. Refreshingly so, if I may add! 

A part of that could be due to the fact the new Z pays homage to the Z cars of the past, old and new. The silhouette is where the influence is most obvious – the way in which the A-pillars rise and the roof starts tapering down immediately afterwards until it reaches the low-slung rear end. Likewise, the teardrop-shaped headlights are an ode to the original 240Z while the horizontal taillight bars set into a full-width black panel are a modern interpretation of the ones found on the 300ZX. Adding further oomph are carbon-fiber accents on the front lip, side skirts and rear valance, dual exhaust tips and striking 19-inch wheels. The large, rectangular grille up front - reminiscent of the current 370Z - is the only design element that doesn't look convincing enough.

The interiors follow the same ‘retro homage’ theme with modern niceties like a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and the obvious touchscreen infotainment system. A trio of auxiliary gauges on the dash – a Z trait – remain, angled towards the driver. Bright yellow accents are found throughout the cabin, matching the lovely pearlescent yellow shade the car comes painted with. 

Packing a punch under the hood is a twin turbo V6 engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission that channels the power to the rear wheels. While no other specifications have been released, Nissan did drop a hint in its press release with the statement “Each new generation had a more powerful engine”. That ties up nicely to the 400Z rumors floating around!

Whatever that is, the mere fact that an all-new Z is on the way is good news. From the looks of it, the new Z is everything we enthusiasts wanted. The wait begins!


Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept previews the brand's upcoming flagship

Jeep has been FCA's knight in shining armour for the last decade or so, riding high on the back of a slew of macho-looking, go-anywhere models tailor-made to take advantage of the SUV boom that gripped the industry. Now, in its quest to venture upmarket, Jeep is bringing back its storied 'Wagoneer' moniker that will be applied on a portfolio of vehicles that, the brand claims, will redefine "American premium".

The Grand Wagoneer Concept shown here likely previews the flagship Grand Wagoneer that will be joined by a not-so-expensive and not-as-luxurious Wagoneer. These will sit atop Jeep's line-up when they go on sale sometime in 2021.

Launched in 1963 under the ownership of Kaiser Jeep Corporation, the original Wagoneer pioneered the luxury 4WD niche at a time when rivals General Motors, Ford, International Harvester and Land Rover were churning out utilitarian off-road vehicles with spartan interiors. That it remained in production - with just minor changes - until 1991 is a testimony to the fact Jeep got the formula right.

If the Grand Wagoneer ends up looking like this concept - which, in all likelihood, it will - Jeep has got it right again. 30 years later!

Despite steering clear of the 'oversized grilles' trend that has gripped most new cars these days, the Grand Wagoneer looks bold and imposing when viewed up front. Thank the familiar 7-slot grille that's now narrow and finished in "Obsidian Black". Book-ending the grille are narrow LED headlights with teak wood detailing. A full-width light bar and raised and illuminated 'Wagoneer' lettering add to the bling quotient. In profile, those flared, trapezoidal wheel arches and large, body-coloured pillars accentuate the size of the Grand Wagoneer with the design around the D-pillar standing out. The rear mimics the front with full-width light bars and thin tail-light clusters book-ending a recessed license plate holder.

If the exteriors don't impress you, the interiors surely will. Jeep has gone all out to make sure the Grand Wagoneer Concept is seen as a legitimate rival to the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator

The cabin is well-styled, well-appointed with lots of sustainable material used for its construction and rich in tech with a grand total of - believe it or not - 7 touchscreens spread across two rows controlling the infotainment and other functions. There's one ahead of the driver, two on the center console, one ahead of the front passenger, two mounted on the front seat headrests and one on the floor console ahead of the second row. Phew! By the way, the flagship Jeep gets a 23-speaker McInstosh audio system.

Jeep has not revealed much more on the new Wagoneer range including power-train specifications. What's been said though is this concept is a plug-in hybrid, so it's safe to assume the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will offer some sort of electrification at launch. 

Not just Chevrolet and Ford, it's time even Cadillac and Lincoln roll their sleeves up and get ready for the fight. Here I come, says Jeep!


A trio of EV crossovers have started India's electric car revolution

It might take years (or even decades!) before electric cars push over their internal combustion engine counterparts in India but the foundation for that to happen is well and truly set. And a trio of electric crossovers - or SUVs, as some call them - are driving this change.

Tata's Nexon EV, MG's ZS EV and Hyundai's Kona Electric have managed what Mahindra Electric - despite it's 10-year head-start - couldn't. Yes, Mahindra took over the erstwhile Reva Electric Car Company in 2010! Reva, lest you forget, has been around for even longer with Chetan Maini launching his pint-sized toy-ish electric car way back in 2001. What a lead this, to be squandered!

Let's get back to this trio. Their success hinged on their ability to garner the attention of the car-buying public by legitimately staking claim as 'no-compromise' urban run-abouts. That they managed to do it overcoming monumental challenges like lack of charging infrastructure, limited awareness and range anxiety is remarkable.

Look at their spec sheets and you'll know why I called them 'no-compromise' offerings.

The Nexon EV is the most-affordable and consequently the top-seller of this bunch with Tata recently celebrating the roll-out of 1000th Nexon EV. Priced between INR 13.99 - 15.99 Lakhs, the Nexon EV has a 30.2 kWh battery with an ARAI-certified range of 312 km on a single charge. Plugged into a regular 15A socket, the Nexon EV would bump it's battery up from 10 to 90% in 8.5 hours. With CCS2 fast charging, it would take just an hour for the battery to go from 0 to 80%. Even assuming an usable real-world range of just over 200 km, the Nexon EV has hit a sweet spot in the price-range equation. That, along with it's funky looks, class-leading safety and solid build, enhances the Nexon EV's appeal.

The other two are more closely matched and a cut above the Tata, both in terms of pricing and specifications. Surprisingly, it's MG that won against Hyundai's might.

Hot on the heels of Hector's success, MG launched the ZS EV in India with ex-showroom prices ranging between INR 19.88 - 23.58 Lakhs. Equipped with a bigger 44.5 kWh battery and an ARAI-certified range of 340 km, the ZS EV gets multiple charging options. The portable charger that comes along with the car can be plugged into any 15A socket and takes 16-18 hours to juice up the battery from 0 to 80%. The same can be done in 6-8 hours by opting for AC fast chargers and just 50 minutes with DC fast chargers installed in MG dealerships. Road Site Assistance facility for mobile charging support is also available in case of an emergency. The ZS EV's appeal lies in it's all-round capability. Good-looking? Check. Feature-loaded? Double check. Panoramic sunroof? Hell yeah!

That brings us to the Kona Electric, India's first EV crossover and the first-ever EV in the country that offered range in excess of 100 km when it was launched just over a year ago. With a pan-India ex-showroom price of INR 25.30 Lakhs, the Kona Electric has a 39.2 kWh battery with an ARAI-certified range of 452 km. In real-world conditions, that could drop to a little over 300 km, still a mighty impressive number. Time taken to recharge the battery to 100% is a little over 6 hours with an AC charger. Just like MG, Hyundai provides fast-charging DC charges and emergency mobile charging support. It's quirky styling and relatively higher pricing apart, there's nothing quite to fault with the car. The Kona Electric would have sold in higher numbers if MG had not stolen the limelight from the Hyundai within months of it's launch. That the Kona Electric is in high demand globally doesn't help either with allocation to Hyundai India apparently hard to come by.

With all three tasting success, it's clear Indians aren't averse to owning electric cars. Give us an EV that isn't a compromise and were prepared to put our money on it. Hyundai, MG and Tata have effectively ensured other car-makers don't have to think twice to launch their EVs in India. So, who's next then?


Mercedes-Benz unveils the all-new S-Class

This is it, folks. An all-new avatar of what’s widely regarded as the best car in the world has just been unveiled. Say hello to the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class!

This is a significant unveiling for more than one reason. Firstly, the S-Class is the world's best-selling full-size luxury sedan. Mercedes-Benz's flagship is also the gold standard against which rivals measure themselves. More crucially, Daimler believes this is the car that is going to bring Mercedes-Benz back to profitability as it battles a demand slump inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as disruptions in the form of Electric Vehicles.

So, what's new in the all-new S-Class? Let’s dig into the details and find out. 

Elegance personified. As always. 

Right from the W116 series in the seventies to the outgoing W222 series, S-Class has always been the very definition of automotive elegance. The new model is no different. 

Up front, the trapezoidal grille has grown in size but, thankfully, not as much to intimidate onlookers like in some of it's rivals. The long, sculpted hood, the cab-rearward stance, the stretched wheelbase and the short, stubby rear give the car proportions to die for. Exquisitely-detailed LED headlights, triangular two-section LED taillights, door handles that sit flush with the body and subdued character lines on either side further add to the appeal.

Despite its size, the S-Class continues to be a wind-cheater with a co-efficient of drag of just 0.22, making it one of the world's most aerodynamic cars.  

High on tech. High on luxury.

Those two statements could be short but they pretty much sum up the cabin of the all-new S-Class. The technologically-advanced cabin screams opulence any which way you look at and will leave no room for owners to complain. 

The dashboard embraces minimalism with a huge 12.8-inch OLED infotainment screen dominating the proceedings. While the driver gets a 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster providing him with vital information, the rear passengers get their own touchscreens mounted on each of the two front seat backs as well as an armrest-mounted tablet. Mercedes-Benz's second-generation MBUX infotainment system powers these screens with more emphasis placed on voice and gesture controls rather than physical buttons. The car uses fingerprint, face and voice recognition to authenticate the occupants and adjust settings automatically. The screens can be personalized with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service).

The seats - or rather plush thrones - don't just score on the luxury factor. Each of them have loads of tech inside. For instance, the driver's seat has up to 19 motors and actuators, four airbags and two exciters (resonance transmitters) incorporated within. Apart from every possible way of adjustment, there is a choice of 10 massage programs to choose from. Imagine winding up on this after a long and tiring day. Bliss, isn't it?

The equipment list include an active ambient lighting system which employs 263 LEDs, a 31-speaker Burmester 4D surround-sound system, Air Balance active fragrancing and ionization package and an Energizing Comfort function that detects stress level of occupants from linked smart devices and recommends one of the many available fitness or wellness programs. 

V12 is gone but engine options are aplenty 

The mainstay of the new S-Class' power-train lineup is a pair of 3.0-liter, in-line six-cylinder engines. The petrol is available in two states of tune - 367 horsepower and 500 Nm in the S450 and 435 horsepower and 520 Nm in the S500 - both assisted by a 48-volt 'EQ Boost' mild-hybrid system. The diesel also has two states of tune - 286 horsepower and 600 Nm in the S350d and 330 horsepower and 700 Nm in the S400d. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line-up while all variants except the S350d get the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system as standard.

Five drive modes are on offer - ECO, COMFORT, SPORT, SPORT+ and INDIVIDUAL - that lets the driver modify the power-train, suspension, steering and ESP characteristics.

A V8 engine option would join the line-up shortly afterwards as will a plug-in hybrid version with an electric-only range of 100 km. For the first-time ever, the S-Class would also spawn an all-electric version - the EQS - a ground-up luxury electric sedan that will rival the Tesla Model S. 

The S-Class also has a party trick - a steerable rear axle that allows the rear wheels to turn as much as 10 degrees. At parking speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels for added maneuverability while at speeds in excess of 60 km/h, they turn in the same direction as the front wheels for added stability. The E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension works in tandem with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and CURVE functions to predict surface undulations and adjust settings accordingly.

Top-notch safety guaranteed

One of the hallmarks of the S-Class over the years has been the way it kept pushing the safety envelope. What you see in the S-Class today is what you'll get in cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic five years down the line. The new S-Class does the same thing. Yet again.

S-Class' armoury include a lightweight aluminium hybrid body-shell, hardened high-strength steel safety cell, MULTIBEAM LED headlights with 84 individual diodes, Digital Light system capable of projecting guidelines and warning symbols onto the road ahead, the first-ever frontal airbags for rear seat occupants in addition to the driver, passenger, curtain and belt airbags, Mercedes-Benz's standard PRE-SAFE suite with an innovative Impulse Side feature that raises the vehicle body by up to 80 mm when it detects an impending side impact and a new URBAN GUARD suite for all-round monitoring of the vehicle when parked. It even has the ability to locate and recover the vehicle in case of a theft.

With hardware comprising of LiDAR, 4 multi-mode radar sensors, 1 long-range radar sensor, 1 multi-purpose camera up front, 4 close-range cameras for 360-degree vision and 12 ultrasonic sensors, the S-Class gets every conceivable driving assistance system out there. If the regulations permit, the S-Class also has a DRIVE PILOT feature that bestows the car with a SAE Level-3 autonomous driving capability.

MBUX is improved and smarter

Debuting in the new S-Class is the new and improved version of Mercedes-Benz User Experience - MBUX in short.

From the brilliant Head-Up Display with augmented reality tech to the INTERIOR ASSIST function that uses cameras to track occupant movements and proactively trigger certain functions and everything in-between including the infotainment system for every occupant of the car, the MBUX has every damn thing the S-Class offers in its control. As one of the images above suggest, it's a freaking computer inside!

Unmatched legacy

Though the brand's association with luxury saloons date back to early 20th century, it wasn't until the 1956 220 S 'Ponton' Mercedes-Benz started using the letter 'S' on its luxury offerings. The S-Class nomenclature came into existence much later when the W116 series debuted in 1972.

Since then, the S-Class has been pushing the boundaries of luxury, technology and safety with each successive generation. 

The all-new S-Class, code-named W223 (short wheelbase) and V223 (long wheelbase) internally, is now assigned with the unenviable task of building on the rich legacy while staying true to the heritage carefully built over decades. At first glance, the new S-Class seems more than prepared for it.