The headline acts remain the new engines and the self-driving capability, but there are other juicy bits, including a sharper multimedia system to drive the two conjoined screens, neater graphics and more luxury.
The self-driving stuff sets the S-Class on a path to partial and then full autonomy, with the ability to tap its road scanners and HERE-based satnav data to accelerate and slow down for corners, roundabouts and toll booths. Between 50km/h and 210km/h it will change lanes for the driver, too, with just a flick on the indicator switch, while it will only give the driver 30 seconds of steering relief at a time.
It swings in Car-to-X communication, too, which means it can talk to any neighbouring Mercedes-Benz fitted with the system, so it can be told not to enter a traffic jam, while it also follows the BMW 7-Series by parking itself from a smartphone instruction.
The core car that holds all this technology is the MRA Mercedes-Benz platform that the S-Class mostly shares with the C and E-Classes, though the big limousine scores its own rear end, with reinforcing and single-chamber air suspension.
While the new 2.9l turbo-diesel will be the biggest seller in Europe, the in-line six will cook the books in most other places. At 320kW, the 3.0l petrol motor is a sweetheart, with strength at low speed and smoothness everywhere, along with better throttle response than the engine it replaces. The note has character, too, delivering a promise of muscle without appearing harsh about it.
The Integrated Starter Motor (ISG) can punch in 250Nm of torque and 16kW of power for short bursts to help out at low engine speeds, boosting performance and fuel economy.