The Mercedes-Benz W140 is a series of flagship vehicles that were manufactured by the German automotive company Mercedes-Benz from 1991 to 1998. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the W140 S-Class at Geneva Motor Show in March 1991 with sales launch in April 1991 and North American launch in August 1991. The W140 represented the last of old school German engineering from Mercedes-Benz that leaned on overengineering principle[according to whom?], namely "engineer's car". As with each generation of S-Class, a plethora of innovations in technology, climate protection, and creature comfort was introduced. Those innovations later trickled down to smaller C-Class and E-Class models over time.
1991–1993 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W140)
|Production||April 1991 – September 1998 (sedan)|
October 1992 – September 1998 (coupe)
|Designer||Olivier Boulay (Sedan exterior: 1986; Coupe exterior: 1987)|
Bruno Sacco (design director 1982–1990)
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Full-size luxury car (F)|
|Body style||4-door sedan (W140; short) |
4-door sedan (V140; long)
4-door sedan (VV140; Pullman)
2-door coupé (C140)
|Related||Maybach 57 and 62|
|Transmission||4-speed 4G-Tronic automatic|
5-speed 5G-Tronic automatic
|Wheelbase||3,040 mm (119.7 in)|
3,139 mm (123.6 in) (V140)
2,944 mm (115.9 in) (C140)
4,140 mm (163.0 in) (Pullman)
|Length||5,113 mm (201.3 in)|
5,213 mm (205.2 in) (V140)
5,065 mm (199.4 in) (C140)
|Width||1,886 mm (74.3 in)|
1,895 mm (74.6 in) (C140)
|Height||1,486 mm (58.5 in)|
1,427 mm (56.2 in) (C140)
|Curb weight||1,880 kg (4,145 lb)|
2,190 kg (4,828 lb) (V140)
2,060–2,240 kg (4,542–4,938 lb) (C140)
|Successor||Mercedes-Benz W220 (S-Class)|
Mercedes-Benz C215 (coupé: CL-Class)
As with previous generations of S-Class, the W140 was available in two body styles (sedan/saloon and coupé) along with two wheelbase lengths (sedan/saloon only). The standard wheelbase, SE, and long wheelbase, SEL, along with coupé version, SEC, was renamed in 1993 as part of the corporate-wide nomenclature changes for 1994 model year onward, becoming S only regardless of wheelbase length or body style as well as fuel type. A TURBODIESEL label affixed to the right side of the trunk/boot lip was the only visual clue of its diesel engine. In 1996, the S-Class coupé was renamed again as CL-Class and split off to its own model range.
The W140 gained a notoriety for its substantial appearance with tall roof and larger side windows, described as "driving safe box", brick on wheels, moving shoe carton, etc. Emerging concerns for climate protection and the effect of global recessions in the early 1990s targeted the W140 as an ostentatious symbol of excess. A further notoriety for the W140 occurred when Diana, Princess of Wales died in a car crash, involving a S 280 model, in a Paris tunnel in 1997. The only survivor of the W140 sat in the front passenger seat.
Mercedes-Benz built 432,732 examples of the 140 series, comprising 406,710 sedans and 26,022 coupés.
The development on the W140 began in 1981, with official introduction originally set in September 1989. Several different design proposals were studied from 1982 until 1986, when a definitive design proposal by Olivier Boulay was selected on 9 December 1986. Several engineering prototypes were evaluated from early 1987, with the final exterior design locked in September 1987. The design patents were filed on 23 February 1988 in Germany and 23 August 1988 in the United States. The lead designer Bruno Sacco attributed Jaguar's XJ40 sedan and BMW's E32 7-Series as a major influence in W140 design. The initial exterior design proposal called for the two different cooling grille designs to denote the lower and upper model, similar to the idea of round and rectangle headlamps on the W123 (1976-1985). Innovative metal-forming technology allowed the extension of the engine hood/bonnet to the front bumper, with the grille placed inside the extruded metal. The W140 became the second model after the R129 (1989-2001) to have this extruded metal grille.
When BMW introduced a new 7-Series (E32) in 1986, a first post-war German passenger V12 engine, M70, was offered. This surprise announcement forced Mercedes-Benz to delay the introduction of the W140 by eighteen months to 1991. The delay allowed Mercedes-Benz to develop the new V12 engine and to rearrange the engine bay to accommodate the garguntan V12 engine along with upgrading the brake system. The final development prototypes were completed in June 1990, with pilot production models being built from June 1990 to January 1991.
The W140 is often known as the last Mercedes-Benz to be "overengineered" or "engineer's car", a trait which reportedly cost Mercedes-Benz more than $1 billion to develop. The project cost overruns and eighteen-month delay resulted in the departure of Wolfgang Peter, Mercedes-Benz' chief engineer. For the consumers, the price of a W140 was considerably 25 per cent higher than its predecessor, the W126, (up to 25 per cent) leading to slow sales during the recession of 1990-1994. Consequently, Mercedes-Benz shifted from "engineer's design" to "market-driven design" in the 1990s, resulting in the "lower quality" feel to the subsequent vehicles introduced in the late 1990s to 2000s, starting with the W210 (1995-2003).
A stillborn V16 engine based on an elongated V12 engine meant for a hypothetical 800 SEL/S 800 was, again, developed in response to the purported rumour of BMW exploring a V16 engine and testing it in a 7-Series (E32) mule, named Goldfisch V16. Mercedes-Benz had a small fleet of 85 W140 prototypes with V16 engines. Due to the increasing concern for climate protection and fear of sending a wrong message to the public in the early 1990s, the V16 engine was quietly cancelled.
The updated W140 was unveiled at the 1994 Geneva Auto Salon and went on sale in April 1994.
The three body types are carried over from the W126: four-door sedan/saloon in two wheelbase lengths and one two-door coupé. The model types are assigned as W140 for standard wheelbase, V140 for long wheelbase, and C140 for coupé. In 1996, S-Class coupé was renamed as CL-Class and spun off from S-Class. A longer Pullman version with 4140 mm wheelbase was introduced in 1995 with two engine choices (S 500 Pullman and S 600 Pullman). The S 600 Pullman could be ordered with armour package.
The Sultan of Brunei ordered eighteen S 73 T station wagons/estates with AMG-prepared M 297 7.3-litre V12 engines putting out 391 kW (532 PS; 524 hp) and 750 N⋅m (553 lb⋅ft) to be built, with ten units delivered. The S 73 T had an S-Class coupé front end and the rear part of an S210 station wagon/estate installed.
A one-off custom-built S 500 lang Landaulet Popemobile was built for Pope John Paul II in 1997.
The W140 S-Class introduced several safety innovations which have since become commonplace among many vehicles.
- Braking system. The V8 and V12 W140 models distributed more braking power to the rear wheels, increasing stopping effectiveness. In 1996, the W140 received Brake Assist System BAS, which engaged during emergency maneuvers to boost braking power to maximum.
- Electronic Stability Program (ESP) was introduced in 1995 on the Mercedes-Benz S 600 Coupé. ESP used on-board computers to improve vehicle handling response during difficult driving conditions. This was a Mercedes developed system, which has since been licensed to other manufacturers.
- Xenon High-intensity discharge headlights (low beam only) were introduced in 1995.
- Side airbags and seat occupancy sensors were introduced in 1996.
- Automatic windscreen wipers with rain sensors were introduced in 1996.
Comfort and convenienceEdit
Some innovations for the W140 included:
- Double-paned soundproofed glass was a new S-Class innovation first fitted on the W140. This form of window glazing allowed for improved soundproofing, reduced condensation, and other insulation benefits.
- Electrically-operated exterior mirrors could be folded at the flick of a switch to ease driving in narrow spaces.
- 'Parameter steering' was a system which made low-speed driving easier by reducing the effort required to maneuver in speed-sensitive situations such as parking.
- Rear-parking markers, or guide rods. These rods extended from the rear corners of the trunk lid when in reverse, providing the driver with a guideline for rear maneuvers. In 1995, this system was replaced by the sonar-based Parktronic system which measured the distance of the bumpers to nearby obstacles.
- 12-way powered, heated front seats, with 3 setting memory functions and lumbar support.
- Windshield wipers w/heated washer system. Later models also included Rain-sensing windshield wipers.
- Electrically-operated automatic-dimming inside rear-view mirror that tied into the seat and steering wheel memory.
- Heated exterior mirrors. Later models also included auto-dimming driver's side mirror.
- Orthopedic seats were an expensive option from the factory but consisted of several different air cushions in the seat that the user can inflate and deflate to find the perfect driving position.
- Dual-zone climate control. Four-zone climate control on LWB models.
- Reclining and heated rear seats on LWB models. V12 models also have the four-place seating option, which allows fully adjustable rear seats, lumbar support and rear sunshade control. The center seat has been replaced by a burlwood center console, allowing a 2 + 2 seating format.
- The climate control system could be set to operate for 20 minutes after the engine had been turned off.
- Electric Rear Sunshade
- Rear passenger illuminated vanity mirrors.
- Soft-Closing Doors and Trunk.
- Leather interiors and burl inserts (optional; standard for 500SEC/CL 500).
- In 1995 the S 600 Coupe became the first Mercedes car with GPS navigation system, designated Auto Pilot System APS. It featured CD-ROM maps and full color navigation display in the center dashboard.
- In 1996 the Linguatronic voice control system and Parktronic sonar-based parking system were introduced
- In 1997 the TELEAID emergency and tracking system was introduced in the US market.
- Also, developed with the car, a Bose sound system was available as an option.
- First introduction of CAN bus (5 CAN bus nodes).
- The W140 featured a newly developed front axle double wishbone suspension and a rear independent multi-link suspension.
- In 1991 the first generation of the ADS (Adaptive Damping System) (Skyhook-type suspension) was introduced. It adjusted the damping level of the shock absorbers to help stabilize the car during high speed driving, aggressive driving, or if the driver loses control of the vehicle. Became standard on V12 models and optional for V8 models.
- In 1996 self-levelling suspension was integrated with ADS, and hydropneumatic suspension became optional on V8 and standard on V12.
- A new diesel inline six engine with four valves per cylinder, a first for Mercedes-Benz, was introduced in 1996 as S 300 TURBODIESEL.
1996–1998 CL 500 (C140)
A new generation of inline 6 and V8 petrol engines were developed with double-overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder, and new variable valve timing. Mercedes-Benz's first-ever passenger V12 engine was introduced in 1991 in a response to BMW's 750i/750iL (E32). Only 3.5-litre inline 6 diesel engine, OM 603.97x, was carried over from W126 and remained only engine in W140 model range with two valves per cylinder form until its replacement in 1996. The DOHC, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing helped increase the horsepower and torque figures without heavy fuel consumption penalty while reducing the emission. All petrol engines have catalysators during the entire W140 model run regardless of where they were sold.
The 3.0-litre 24-valve inline 6, M 104.98x, was first introduced in 300 SL-24 and 300 E-24, 300 CE-24, and 300 TE-24 in 1989. This engine, fitted to 300 SE/300 SEL, had a very short run in W140; it was replaced by an upgraded inline 6 engines introduced in 1993 with two displacements. The smaller 2.8-litre M 104.94x engine was fitted to 300 SE 2.8 (one year only) then S 280 (1994-1998). The larger 3.2-litre M 104.99x engine was fitted to 300 SE/300 SEL (one year only) then S 320 (1994-1998).
The M 119 V8 engines were available in 4.2-litre (M 119 E 42) and 5.0-litre (M 119 E 50) versions and remained unchanged during its entire model run. In 1994, AMG developed a 6.0-litre version (M 119 E 60) with 279 kW (379 PS; 374 bhp) and 580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft) in a very limited production for Japanese market. The S 500 AMG 6.0 and CL 500 AMG 6.0 were built from 1994 to 1999 per customer order. For 1993, the V8 engines were detuned for improved emission control.
The M 120 V12 engine was offered in 6.0 litres only for the entire model run. This engine developed 290–300 kW (394–408 PS; 389–402 hp) and 569–580 N⋅m (420–428 lb⋅ft) of torque for the 6.0-litre version. The 300 kW (408 PS; 402 bhp) version was available in Europe from 1991 to 1992 and in the United States for 1992 only. In 1993, the V12 was slightly detuned to 290 kW (394 PS; 389 bhp) for lower emission control. An AMG-prepared 6.0-litre M 120 V12 with higher performance rating, 327 kW (445 PS; 439 hp) and 623 N⋅m (460 lb⋅ft), was not officially available for S-Class sedan/saloon as it was exclusive to CL-Class and SL-Class.
The 3.5-litre inline 6 diesel engine, OM 603.97x in 300 SD TURBODIESEL (1991-1993) and S 350 TURBODIESEL (1994-1996) was at last offered outside North American and Japanese markets for the first time. This engine was replaced in 1996 by all-new 24-valve OM 606.961 ERE engine. This engine was loosely derived from M 104 petrol engine with different crankshaft and cylinder head. The smaller engine fitted to S 300 TURBODIESEL put out 130 kW (177 PS; 174 hp) and 330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft). The fuel was delivered indirectly in the precombustion chamber before entering the combustion chamber.
W140 remains the only S-Class to have wider range of transmissions during its eight-year run. The transmission choices at the introduction was 5-speed manual and 4-speed 4G-Tronic automatic. A new 5-speed 5G-Tronic was introduced in 1994 for inline 6 petrol engines only. In September 1995, 5G-Tronic was updated with electronic control for more optimal shifting points based on the sensor readings and became the sole automatic transmission option for the entire model range from 1996 to 1998.
The models equipped with inline 6 petrol engines have 5-speed manual transmission as standard with either 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission as extra-cost options. In June 1996, both 4-speed and 5-speed automatic transmissions were replaced by 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The inline 6 diesel engines were never offered with manual transmissions, following the "tradition" with W116 and W126. S 300 TURBODIESEL, introduced in 1996, received the 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
The models with V8 and V12 engines were offered with 4-speed automatic transmission as standard until August 1995. On September 1995, the 4-speed automatic transmission was replaced by 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
The figures given for acceleration, top speed, and fuel consumption are combination of all types of transmission (5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, 5-speed automatic, and 5-speed electronically controlled automatic) and three body types (standard, long, and coupé) wherever applicable.
|Model||Chassis||Years||Configuration||Displacement||Power||Torque||Empty Weight (kg)||0–100 km/h (0-62 mph)||Top Speed (km/h)||Fuel Consumption||Units|
|300 SE 2.8||W140.028||02/1992–05/1993||(M 104 E 28) Inline 6||2799 cc||142 kW (193 PS; 190 bhp)||270 N⋅m (199 lb⋅ft)||1890||10.6-11 seconds||210–215 km/h (130–134 mph)||11.1–11.7 L/100 km (21.2–20.1 mpg‑US)||22,784|
|300 SE||W140.032||09/1991–05/1993||(M 104 E 32) Inline 6||3199 cc||170 kW (230 PS; 230 bhp)||310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft)||1890||8.9–9.4 seconds||225–230 km/h (140–143 mph)||11.1–12.3 L/100 km (21.2–19.1 mpg‑US)||98,095|
|S 320||06/1993–09/1998||315 N⋅m (232 lb⋅ft)|
|300 SEL||W140.033||01/1991–05/1993||310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft)||1900||85,346|
|S 320 Long||06/1993–09/1998||315 N⋅m (232 lb⋅ft)|
|400 SE||W140.042||04/1991–05/1993||(M 119 E 42) V8||4196 cc||210 kW (290 PS; 280 bhp)||410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft)||1900||7.9–8.5 seconds||245–250 km/h (152–155 mph)||11.7–12.2 L/100 km (20.1–19.3 mpg‑US)||14,277|
|S 420||06/1993–08/1998||205 kW (279 PS; 275 bhp)||400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft)|
|400 SEL||W140.043||04/1991–05/1993||210 kW (290 PS; 280 bhp)||410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft)||2000||35,191|
|S 420 Long||06/1993–09/1998||205 kW (279 PS; 275 bhp)||400 N⋅m (295 lb⋅ft)|
|S 420 Coupé
|500 SE||W140.050||04/1991–05/1993||(M 119 E 50) V8||4973 cc||240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp)||480 N⋅m (354 lb⋅ft)||1900||7.0–7.5 seconds||250 km/h (155 mph)||11.5–11.9 L/100 km (20.5–19.8 mpg‑US)||21,942|
|S 500||06/1993–08/1998||235 kW (320 PS; 315 bhp)||470 N⋅m (347 lb⋅ft)|
|500 SEL||W140.051||04/1991–05/1993||240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp)||480 N⋅m (354 lb⋅ft)||2000||65,065|
|S 500 Long||06/1993–09/1998||235 kW (320 PS; 315 bhp)||470 N⋅m (347 lb⋅ft)|
|500 SEC||W140.070||10/1992–05/1993||240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp)||480 N⋅m (354 lb⋅ft)||2080||14,953|
|S 500 Coupé
|06/1993–09/1998||235 kW (320 PS; 315 bhp)||470 N⋅m (347 lb⋅ft)|
|600 SE||W140.056||04/1991–05/1993||(M 120 E 60) V12||5987 cc||300 kW (410 PS; 400 bhp)||580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft)||2180||6.3–6.5 seconds||250 km/h (155 mph)||12.5–13.7 L/100 km (18.8–17.2 mpg‑US)||3,399|
|S 600||06/1993–07/1998||290 kW (390 PS; 390 bhp)||570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft)|
|600 SEL||W140.051||04/1991–05/1993||300 kW (410 PS; 400 bhp)||580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft)||2190||32,517|
|S 600 Long||06/1993–09/1998||290 kW (390 PS; 390 bhp)||570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft)|
|600 SEC||W140.076||10/1992–5/1993||300 kW (410 PS; 400 bhp)||580 N⋅m (428 lb⋅ft)||2240||8,573|
|S 600 Coupé
|06/1993–09/1998||290 kW (390 PS; 390 bhp)||570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft)|
|300 SD||W140.134||10/1991–05/1993||(OM 603 D 35 A, 12 valves) Inline 6||3449 cc||110 kW (150 PS; 150 bhp)||310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft)||1940||13.1 seconds||185 km/h (115 mph)||9.7 L/100 km (24 mpg‑US)||20,518|
|S 350 Turbodiesel||06/1993–08/1996|
|S 300 Turbodiesel||W140.135||06/1996–08/1998||(OM 606 D 30 LA, 24 valves) Inline 6||2996 cc||130 kW (180 PS; 170 bhp)||330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft)||1940||11.2 seconds||206 km/h (128 mph)||8.1 L/100 km (29 mpg‑US)||7,583|
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