Mercedes-Benz W140

Mercedes-Benz W140
Mercedes-Benz W140
Mercedes-Benz S320 sedan
Manufacturer Daimler-Benz (1991-1998)
DaimlerChrysler (1998-1999)
Production 1991–1999
432,732 built[1]
Saloon: 406,710
Coupé: 26,022
Assembly Stuttgart, Germany
Predecessor Mercedes-Benz W126
Successor Mercedes-Benz W220
Mercedes-Benz C215
Class Full-size Luxury car
Body style 2-door coupé
4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Engine I6 V8 V12
Transmission 4-speed 4G-TRONIC automatic
5-speed 5G-TRONIC automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase Sedan
  • 3040–3139 mm (119.7–123.6 in)
  • 2944 mm (115.9 in)
Length Sedan
  • 5113 mm (201.3 in)−5213 mm (205.2 in)
  • 201.3 in (5,113 mm)
Width Sedan
  • 1886 mm (74.3 in)
  • 74.6 in (1,895 mm)
Height Sedan
  • 1486 mm (58.5 in)
  • 56.2 in (1,427 mm)
Curb weight Sedan
  • 1,880 kg (4,100 lb)−2,190 kg (4,800 lb)
  • 2,060 kg (4,500 lb)−2,240 kg (4,900 lb)
For a complete overview of all S-Class models see Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The Mercedes-Benz W140 was a series of flagship vehicles manufactured by the German automotive company Mercedes-Benz. The car premiered at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1991, with the first examples rolling off the production line on August 6, 1991. Short (SE) and long (SEL) wheelbase sedans were offered initially, as well as the coupé (SEC) body style from October 1992. Like all Mercedes-Benz lines, the W140 S-Class was rationalized in late 1993 using the new "letter-first" nomenclature. The SE/SEL/SEC cars were renamed the S-Class, with alphanumerical designations inverted. For example, the 500 SE became the S 500, and the 500 SEL became the S 500 L. In 1997 the coupé models following a mid-life update were separated into the CL-class. The W140 series S-Class was superseded by the W220 S-Class in 1999 after an eight year production run, the coupé by the C215 CL-Class for model year 2000.



As with its predecessor, the W140 was the first of the "next generation" of Mercedes-Benz models to feature the company's new design theme. The car is famous for being the model in which Princess Diana died in following a car crash due to her driver being believed to be under effects of antidepressants[citation needed] and due to her not wearing a seat belt.

1992-1994 Sedan
1993 Mercedes-Benz 600SEC
1999 Mercedes-Benz S600 featuring the flagship V12 engine
1999 Mercedes-Benz CL500

Development on the W140 began in 1981, originally set for an autumn 1989 release. From 1982 to 1986 several designs were reviewed, until December 1986 when a principal design was approved. Several prototypes were tested onwards from early 1987 and the final production exterior design was approved in February 1988. A delay was made to accommodate a V12 engine and resulted in the final prototype being completed in June 1990. Pilot production models were made from July 1990 to January 1991. In 1991, to compete with the Lexus LS 400, a series of additional features were rushed for the launch of the W140.[2] The W140 introduced innovations such as double-pane window glazing, power-assisted closing for doors and boot lid, electric windows which lowered back down upon encountering an obstruction, rear-parking markers which rose from the rear wings (discontinued on later vehicles, and replaced with sonar-assisted parking) and a heating system which, if desired, continued to emit warm air after the engine was turned off. For details like this, the W140 is often known as the last Mercedes to be "overengineered," a Mercedes trait that was costing the company in product delays and overbudgeting. According to Motor Trend, this action reportedly caused project cost overruns and resulted in the departure of Wolfgang Peter, Daimler-Benz's chief engineer.[2] The vehicle is believed to have cost Mercedes-Benz over $1 billion to develop. For the consumer, the W140 cost a considerable 25 percent more than its predecessor, the W126.

The W140 was to feature air-suspension as an option, but it was dropped shortly before launch because Mercedes was still perfecting the technology at the time. Mercedes chose to launch air-suspension in the next generation S-Class in 1999. The W140 instead used a hydropneumatic rear suspension, first introduced on the W126 to be used on the S500 and S600 models. Following the mid-year facelift in 1994, Mercedes-Benz made Electronic Stability Control an optional fixture to both sedan and coupé body styles in the W140 range. Both the sedan and coupé body styles were equipped with Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) as a standard feature.

Like its predecessor, the car was available in two wheelbase lengths (short W140 and long V140) along with the C140 coupé. In 1992, a new 6 litre 402 horsepower V12 engine joined the lineup for the first time with the 600SEL and 600SEC. A "V12" badge was affixed to the C-pillar.

In 1993, the 402 horsepower V12 engine was slightly detuned to 389 horsepower to comply with tighter emission control regulations in the United States and Europe. The V8 models were tuned down from 322 horsepower to 315 horsepower.

The W140 600SEL was available with wooden rear ash tray covers, wood/leather shift knob, leather dashboard and a suede headliner, unlike the V8 and inline 6-cylinder models. Following the facelift in 1994, the rebadged S600 was updated with a wood/leather steering wheel, a V12 badge on the wood/leather shifter, double needle stitching all over the interior and two tone nappa leather seating – further distinctions from its lower rung siblings.

Following the new Mercedes-Benz tradition of mid-life facelifts (starting with the W126 in 1986), the W140 received a minor facelift in 1994. The clear turn signal indicator lenses on the front were the most obvious change, as was the grille including a new and distinctive one for S600's. Headlamps were fitted with separate low H7, H1 fog, and high H1 beam reflectors in 1995, pre 1995 used an H4 bulb and H3 for the fog lamp. In April 1995, "Parktronic" replaced the parking guiders on the rear boot lid. In June 1996, the two tone exterior bumpers were painted to match the upper portions of the vehicles and the rear indicator lenses became clear.

Height of the W140 production models varied between years (1992-94 W140 Sedan: 58.7 in; 1992-94 V140 Sedan: 58.9 in; 1995-96 W140 Sedan: 58.4 in; 1997-99 V140 Sedan: 58.3 in; C140 Coupe: 56.7 in; 1997-99 W140 Sedan: 58.5 in).


Body style Chassis code (Cal.) Years Model Engine Notes No. Built[1]
sedan W140.135/W140.134 1996–1998 S300‡ 3.0 LOM606 I6 Turbo-Diesel 7,583
1991–1996 300SD/S350‡ 3.5 L OM603 I6 Turbo-Diesel 20,518
W140.028 1993–1998 300SE 2.8/S280‡ 2.8 L M104 I6 22,784
W140.032 1991–1993 300SE 3.2 L M104 I6 183,441
1991–1993 300SEL
1993–1999 S320
W140.042 1991–1993 400SE 4.2 L M119 V8 49,468
W140.043 1991–1993 400SEL 4.2 L M119 V8
1993–1998 S420
W140.051 1991–1993 500SEL 5.0 L M119 V8 87,006
1993–1999 S500
W140.057 1992–1993 600SEL 6.0 L M120 V12 35,910
1993–1999 S600
coupé W140.063 1994–1998 S420/CL420 4.2 L M119 V8 2,496
W140.070 1992–1993 500SEC 5.0 L M119 V8 14,953
1993–1999 S500/CL500
W140.076 1992–1993 600SEC 6.0 L M120 V12 8,573
1993–1999 S600/CL600
‡ Note: swb only (119.7 in), SEL and all other sedan models also lwb (123.6 in)



The W140 S-Class introduced several safety innovations which have since become commonplace among many vehicles.[3]

  • 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, which engaged during emergency maneuvers to boost braking power to maximum.
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP) was introduced in 1996. 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.
  • Side airbags and seat occupancy sensors were introduced in 1996.

Comfort and convenience

Some new 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.
1994–1996 Mercedes-Benz S 320
  • 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 allowing 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.
  • Self-Closing Doors and Trunk.

Drivetrain technologies

  • The W140 featured a newly-developed double wishbone front axle and a multi-link independent rear suspension.
  • ADS (Adaptive Damping System) standard on V12 models and optional for V8 models that adjust 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.[4]


Engine Cyl. Power Torque
2.8 24V I6 193 PS (142 kW; 190 hp) 270 N·m (199 lb·ft)
3.2 24V I6 231 PS (170 kW; 228 hp) 310 N·m (229 lb·ft)
3.2 24V I6 231 PS (170 kW; 228 hp) 315 N·m (232 lb·ft)
4.2 32V V8 279 PS (205 kW; 275 hp) 400 N·m (295 lb·ft)
4.2 32V V8 286 PS (210 kW; 282 hp) 410 N·m (302 lb·ft)
5.0 32V V8 320 PS (235 kW; 316 hp) 470 N·m (347 lb·ft)
5.0 32V V8 326 PS (240 kW; 322 hp) 480 N·m (354 lb·ft)
6.0 48V V12 394 PS (290 kW; 389 hp) 570 N·m (420 lb·ft)
6.0 48V V12 408 PS (300 kW; 402 hp) 580 N·m (428 lb·ft)
3.0 24V TD I6 177 PS (130 kW; 175 hp) 330 N·m (243 lb·ft)
3.5 12V TD I6 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) 310 N·m (229 lb·ft)


Article citations

  1. ^ a b Kittler, Eberhard (2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990, vol. 5. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02128-5. 
  2. ^ a b MacKenzie, Angus (2007-04). "2007 Lexus LS 460". Motor Trend. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  3. ^ "Top Speed W140 profile". Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  4. ^ "V12 Uber Alles, Diagnosing the Adaptive Damping System (ADS) in a Mercedes Benz S600". 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 

Model history

  1. Schlegelmilch, Rainer W.; Hartmut Lehbrink, Jochen Von Osterroth (November 2004). Mercedes. Könemann. ISBN 3-8331-1056-2. 
  2. Kevin Smith. "Mercedes-Benz 500SEC". Car and Driver (March 1993): 45–49. 
  3. William Jeanes. "Mercedes-Benz 300SE". Car and Driver (March 1993): 126–127. 

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