Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) has officially introduced the 2022 W223 S-Class in the country, closing out 2021 in grand fashion with the debut of the brand’s flagship model. Only one variant of the seventh-generation sedan is available here, and this is the S 580 e plug-in hybrid.

Final pricing is still being determined, but according to MBM, the S 580 e is expected to cost more than the W222 S 560 e, which went for RM659k at point of its introduction. The company also said that it has no plans to introduce any other variant of the S-Class locally.

At 5,179 mm long (in its standard-wheelbase form), 1,921 mm wide and 1,503 mm tall, the new S-Class is slightly larger than its predecessor (by 54 mm, 22 mm and 10 mm respectively); the local car is actually a V223 long-wheelbase version, which makes it 110 mm longer, at 5,289 mm. There’s no penalty in weight despite the increase in dimensions – the new car is actually lighter by up to 60 kg, courtesy of extended use of aluminium for its structure, with more than 50% of its total weight being made up of the material.

It’s also visually sleeker, courtesy of new lines and design elements, which includes slimmer and wider trapezoidal headlamps that bear arrow-shaped LED daytime running lights and indicators. In following the fashion of the day (and mirroring the treatment given to the new E-Class), the grille has gotten much bigger on the new car. Love it or not, there’s no denying it gives the front end plenty of visual presence.

The side profile is still unmistakably S-Class, but the flow across the length is cleaner, aided by pop-up door handles (which sit flush when not used) and a character line that has been reduced and brought closer in line with the window line. At the back, two-piece triangular-shaped tail lights, similar to those on the CLS, give the rear a more streamlined look, with a chrome trim piece linking the light clusters to further broaden the car visually.

Standard kit on the Malaysian model includes Digital Light LED headlamps, which use 1.3 million micro-mirrors to deliver 2.6 million pixels of resolution. Besides increasing the precision of the Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus system by over 100 times compared to Multibeam, the Digital Light units can adjust the beam to suit the topography, based on navigation data.

For example, they can point downwards when cresting a hill to avoid blinding oncoming road users, and pivoted upwards when at the bottom of a hill to maintain an optimum light throw. As for suspension and wheels, the local S 580 e is fitted with the standard Airmatic air suspension with adaptive dampers, and rides on 19-inch multi-twin-spoke alloy wheels and 255/45 profile tyres (on the two launch vehicles, Pirelli P7s and Hankook Ventus S1 evo3 units).

The rework continues inside, where a minimalist dashboard and redesigned air-conditioning vents – made up of two slim vertical slots on both sides of the dashboard ends and four rectangular vents above the centre touchscreen – reduces visual clutter.

Speaking of the screen, it’s the focal point at the front end of the cabin – the Malaysian-spec S 580 e features a 12.8-inch OLED portrait display, which has a resolution of 1,888×1,728 pixels. Meanwhile, the digital instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch display with a three-dimensional effect, which works by tracking your eyes using stereo cameras.

As for the MBUX multimedia system, it features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support and augmented reality navigation. The local S 580 e is kitted out with a MBUX high-end rear entertainment system with twin 11-inch displays, two wireless headsets and a full-fledged 7.0-inch Android tablet, which can be docked into the rear centre armrest. Audio duties are handled by a Burmester 3D surround sound system, which features 16 speakers and 760 watts of amplification.

The car also comes with MBUX Interior Assistant. Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, it can recognise the intention of occupants and perform a suitable action in anticipation.

It does so by interpreting head direction, hand movements and body language, and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. For example, it can recognise gestures such as looking over your shoulder (where it will then open the rear sunblind for a better view out), and it can also use the eye-tracking camera to detect if you’re falling asleep behind the wheel and sound a warning.

Interior trim for the local car consists of anthracite open-pore poplar wood trim, with the centre console finished in black crystal, as well as Nappa leather for the upholstery and steering wheel.

Of course, being a limousine, there’s plenty of luxe at the rear when it comes to seating. The seats on the new S-Class have been redesigned with a flowing three-dimensional design theme, and the electrically-adjustable mutli-contour units feature heating and cooling as well as a calf massage function. Not that anyone is likely to use it here, but the new rear headrests also come with a built-in neck warmer.

Standard kit includes Keyless Go, a panoramic sliding sunroof, Thermotronic automatic climate control, wireless charging for mobile devices at both front and rear of the cabin, velour floor mats and an Air Balance package. Elsewhere, the illumination from the 64-colour ambient lighting system has been upgraded with more LEDs (250 units, as opposed to 40 before), making it visible even in daylight.

Next, the mechanicals. The variant is equipped with the same engine as the new W223 S 450 petrol variant, in this case a M256 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six. Output is identical, the GR unit offering 362 hp (367 PS) from 5,500 to 6,100 rpm and 500 Nm of torque between 1,600 and 4,500 rpm.

Working with a 147 hp (150 PS) and 440 Nm electric motor (originally, it was listed as 480 Nm at the car’s European introduction, but an update has revised it to the current output), combined system output is rated at 502 hp (510 PS) and 750 Nm, which is a 34 PS and 50 Nm increase from the previous W222 S 560 e. Paired with a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox, the S 580 e manages the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds on the way to a 250 km/h top speed.

The electric motor gets its juice from a 28.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, a unit with more than double the capacity of the one in the S 560 e. As such, all-electric travel range has been increased to around 100 km (WLTP cycle), and pure electric operation is possible at speeds of up to 140 km/h

As standard, the S 580 e comes with an 11 kW onboard charger, which through a three-phase AC wallbox charger will take about two to 2.5 hours to get the battery to an 80% SOC. The local car however does not come with the optional DC fast charging port, so it’s the AC route only here.

The battery pack sits in the boot space, but measures have been taken to present a cleaner looking boot – the rear axle has been lowered by 27 mm compared to other S-Class models, which allows the battery to sit lower and eliminates the stepped floor seen on the previous car. Unfortunately, overall volume of the boot is still impacted due to the presence of the battery, the PHEV offering 330 litres as opposed to the 550 litres available in a petrol or diesel variant.

In terms of safety and driver assistance equipment, the S 580 e comes with a Driving Assistance package, with items such as autonomous emergency braking with improved cross traffic and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control (now preventing collisions at up to 130 km/h) and lane keeping assist included in the mix.

The S 580 e is equipped with 14 airbags – aside from front, front sides, driver kneebag and side curtain (front/rear, integrated), rear occupants also get frontal rear airbags, sidebags, beltbags and an integrated seat cushion airbag for the Executive seats. The latter counteracts any potential “submarining” under the fastened seat belt in the event of a collision. Quite a complement, and you’ll have to get to a Z223 Maybach S-Class to get more (in this case, 16 airbags).

Elsewhere, parking assistance comes in the form of active parking assist with Parktronic and a 360-degree camera. However, the local car makes do without rear-wheel steering, which isn’t on the kit list. We also don’t get Drive Pilot, the automaker’s Level 3 semi-autonomous driving system.

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