The Mercedes-Benz W221 is a large luxury sedan built by Mercedes-Benz which serves as the company’s flagship vehicle. Produced since late 2005, the W221 is the successor to the previous W220 S-Class. Compared to its predecessor, the W221 is slightly larger in all dimensions, with a longer wheelbase and more interior room. As Mercedes’ highest vehicle, the W221 also features new interior and exterior styling and a number of technologies and features to improve safety, handling, and comfort.
The W221 S-Class’ exterior styling is a marked change from that of the previous model. While the previous model featured rounded shapes and lines, with a smaller appearance, the W221’s shape possesses more sharp edges and creases, with larger flared wheelarches and radiator grille. The rear end has been one of the most controversial aspects of the W221: some claim that the rear end is a copy of the E65 BMW 7-Series and is unattractive, while others claim that the rear end is bold, aggressive, and in fact derived almost directly from the Mercedes-Benz Maybach – the larger saloon from Daimler AG’s flagship brand, which was released the same year as the E65 BMW 7 series. The large, sharply defined wheelarches are also controversial, with some believing that such features do not belong on a car of this type, while others maintain that the wheelarches add to the vehicle’s more-aggressive theme. Inside, the W221’s interior is also significantly different from the preceding model. The interior features an instrument cluster shroud that also contains the navigation screen, with silver air vents below, 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. On the center console, a silver control wheel for the COMAND system sits above a piece of wood, surrounded by metal buttons. Throughout the interior, buttons are metal, with black fields above them denoting the switches’ function. The interior is also a source of controversy, with many stating that the interior clearly contains direct copies of many BMW 7-Series styling cues (mainly because of the new COMAND controller), while others point out that the interior is clearly an update of previous Mercedes interior styling.