The Mercedes-Benz W221 is a chassis code of S-Class, the successor of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220) and the predecessor of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W222). The S-Class are the flagship vehicles of Mercedes-Benz and each generation typically introduces a range of technical innovations and developments that over time will find their way into smaller cars.
The W221 S-Class’ exterior styling is distinctly different from the W220. The W220 somewhat broke with tradition in being smaller than its W140 predecessor, whereas the W221 is once more larger in all dimensions than its predecessor, offers more interior space and has improved performance. The W221 looks are often said to be more imposing than those of the W220. The rear styling is similar to the Mercedes-Benz Maybach – the larger saloon from Daimler AG’s other flagship brand, which was presented to the public in 1997. Development began in 1999, with the design work beginning in 2000 at the Advanced Design Center in Tokyo, and the final design by Gorden Wagener at the Sindelfingen Advanced Design Center being approved in 2001, frozen for production in early 2002 and patented in Japan on May 21, 2003 under 1208488 and in Germany on December 4, 2003. A final design prototype W221 was presented in December 2002 to Autospies journalists at a consumer design clinic, 2.5 years prior to the official production model unveiling in June 2005.
Inside, the W221’s interior is also significantly different from the preceding model, even more
dominated by leather, wood and metal. Where the W220 still had a fair amount of plastic fascias and switches, the W221 has replaced most of these by more luxurious materials such as wood, leather and metal. The interior features an instrument cluster with two large flat panel screens, one for the hard disk based COMAND system which includes the navigation screen and one replacing the analog speedometer by a graphical representation of it, which can display a range of additional information and can also be replaced by the Night View Assist display. Below the central COMAND screen are silver effect air vents, and a square, analog clock within the vents. Below the vents are metal tab switches with a black field behind them, to control the HVAC system (these functions are all also accessible via the COMAND system, which also offers access to some additional HVAC functions, such as foot-well temperature settings and air flow control).
Below the HVAC button section is a panel that opens to give access to the DVD changer which also includes a CompactFlash card reader. On the center console, a metal control wheel for the COMAND system sits above a piece of wood, surrounded by metal buttons. There is no longer a central gear shift lever as in previous models, instead a stalk on the steering wheel controls the gearbox (with buttons or, optionally, paddles on the steering wheel for manual gear control). Controls mounted on the door panels provide access to the main seat controls (including the optional seat heating, seat ventilation and memories) and to the electrical mirrors, windows and boot lid opening and closing. Additional seat controls are accessed via the standard COMAND system (these include controlling the optional multi-contour and dynamic driving seats and the massaging seat functions). Throughout the interior, many buttons are metal, with black fields above them denoting the switches’ function.
The steering wheel has various control buttons for the cluster display, volume and telephone control and for the optional Linguatronic voice control system. On the electrically adjustable steering wheel column are also mounted the gearbox control lever, the stalk for controlling the speedtronic and cruise control functions, the main combination lever that operates the indicators, high beam and windscreen wipers and a stalk to adjust the steering wheel and control the optional heated steering wheel. Controls for the interior lighting and the sun roof or panoramic sun roof are mounted on the roof, near the interior rear-view mirror. This section also includes a compartment for sun glasses.
The W221 is slightly larger in all dimensions than the W220, with a longer wheelbase and more interior room.
The S-Class is available in short-wheelbase form, except in the USA, Mexico, Russia, China and Indonesia, where all models are long-wheelbase. / Wikipedia