With the Mercedes S Class W222, we seem to be back in the 2000s. We have big and imposing boats but we also have the Mercedes reliability of the early 2000s. Mercedes S Class W222, a drug in car form.
Arriving in 2013, the Mercedes S Class W222 is part of the new Mercedes wave and is already expected to be one of the weakest Mercedes in S Class history. We had the W140 which needs no introduction and which was and still is a genuine S Class and is more followed online even than Audrey Hepburn and Deauxma combined at the same time. Then came the W220 which wanted to make a revolution but was a failure due to reliability issues. Then came the W221 which wasn’t the most reliable but at least it came along with the AMG era and the 6.3 engines with 2 million horsepower and also with many new technologies. And now came the Mercedes S Class W222 which was not the most brilliant S Class, and then came the W223 which again is a classic model because it represents the vanguard of premium limousines in the electric era.
What about this S Class? The Mercedes S Class W222 sure looks good and brings an old-fashioned boat feel to the table, but unfortunately it will go down in history as a model with quite some reliability issues, just like the W220. And the W222 has another issue, borrowed from Audi. Much like how the Audi A8 is a bigger A6, the S Class is a bigger E Class.
Let’s get to the positives instead. The S Class W222 is a huge leap in luxury and comfort over the W221, and the car is so luxurious that it was used as the basis for the Maybach model. In the US it was a very successful car, because there they only imported large petrol engines, from the S500 upwards. The S Class remains king in the comfort zone and dominates everything normal in this class. The 7 Series is sportier, and the A8 is more discreet, but the S Class remains at the top of the tree in terms of comfort and, let’s face it, looks. It still shows everybody that life is treating you well.
Mercedes S Class W222 Engines
- 3.5 V6 of 333 horsepower – Just like damp, Mercedes can’t seem to get rid of this 3.5 V6 engine. An engine that started life under the codename M272 and was one engine to be avoided completely, whether it was the S Class, ML, or CLS, disappears by 2012 and then in 2015 returned as the M276 and now has the balance shaft issue solved. So now, on the W222, I can recommend it.
- 4.7 V8 Bi-Turbo of 455, 469, and 612 horsepower – Coming on the S500 and the entry-level engine for Americans, this M278 has no specific issues instead it will hurt you where the sun doesn’t shine when you have to change the timing chains. Yep. The chains.
- 5.5 V8 Bi-Turbo of 585 horsepower – reserved for the S63 AMG, the M157 engine is surprisingly reliable. Sure, it has some spark plug and timing issues, but overall it’s a reliable engine. Sure, it won’t be as cheap to maintain as a 1.4 MPI VW Fox, but for a 585 horsepower 5.5 bi-turbo it’s amazing.
- 6.0 twin-turbo V12 of 530 and 630 horsepower – A relatively old engine, launched around 2002 with Pepsi Blue and Vanilla Coke, the engine has proven to be quite reliable.
- 3.0 V6 of 258 horsepower – If the 4.7 V8 in the S500 makes the most sense for the US, the most logical engine for us in Europe is the 3.0 V6 diesel. An engine perfected over time and where you just have to be careful to fill it up only with MB AdBlue, bought from the MB dealership, otherwise you will have bigger issues than the Krays had with the law.
- 3.0 I-6 of 282 and 335 horsepower – Launched along with the 2018 facelift, the inline-6 engine returns after a 14-year hiatus. Right now it’s too exotic even for Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, so we’ll have to let time have its say.
- 3.0 V6 petrol + hybrid of 329 horsepower – I don’t necessarily understand why you’d go for a Mercedes S400e but it’s good to know you have the option. We have the same M276 which is reliable but we lose boot space thanks to the 27-horsepower electric motor at least you can boast that it’s the only S Class with an official under-3 liters per 100 km fuel consumption, on highway driving. As if fuel economy is relevant.
- 3.0 l-6 petrol + hybrid of 367, 435, and 489 horsepower – Likewise, the M256 engine came with the 2017 facelift and is too new to give an opinion on. But at least it has a 122 horsepower electric motor in the S560e version and there we’re already talking about the electric motor helping the car’s performance, not the economy.
- 3.5 V6 petrol + hybrid of 302 horsepower – That was the predecessor to the 3.0 V6 engine, and the idea for an S Class hybrid came from the W221 hybrid that had the old M272 3.5 V6, and here it kept the 3.5 V6 but as the M276 version for 2 years until it was retired. Same issues, but at least here you cut a lot of the astronomical tax imposed on engines over 3 liters.
- 2.1 l-4 diesel + 204 hp hybrid – I didn’t understand the old S250 CDI, just as I don’t understand this 2.1 diesel hybrid. Far too small and has no place under the hood of the Mercedes S Class W222.
Mercedes S Class W222 General Issues
- The front and rear belt drives and tensioners tend to break down and that means you have to drive without the belts on. That is if you care about such an issue.
- The Pre-Safe system, which takes care of the airbags and their deployment among other things, can fail and in case of an crash the airbags may not deploy.
- You have a lot of technology and a lot of electrical issues. Safety systems don’t work properly, Lane Assist doesn’t work. Basically, try every available button and function in the car and hope for the best.
- Air suspension is a recurring theme for all cars like this, and the S Class W222 weighs 5000 tons + VAT so you’ll have to change the airbags often.
- Oil leaks are common on non-facelift models so watch out for the slightest sign as engines can run without oil but only for a few miles and then they can’t be repaired.
- LED headlights suffer from condensation every 3 days so you’ll have to follow a strict treatment…wait, not that….being LED headlights is a classic story of which there is nothing you can do .
- 7G-Tronic automatic transmissions are so dubious they are semi-permanent guests on the set of “Jackass!” Fortunately, the 9G-Tronic gearbox appeared around 2015 and there are not so many issues there. And we are still protesting against 5G.
- The fuel cap won’t close but that’s not your problem, it’s the chauffeurs. And if you have some S500, it’s better to leave it open because you fill up every 50 kms anyway.
Mercedes S Class W222 Verdict
Not the most reliable car in S-Class history, but it remains at least memorable. As with any modern Mercedes, I recommend the post-2017 facelift model. In 15 years when it will devalue enough to afford one. Although, if I look at how much the minivan costs, I think I’ll give up the dream of a used S Class and blow all my money in the parking lot at Kaufland on Turinger sausages.
What engines do you recommend? For petrol power, I recommend the glorious 489-horsepower 3.0 l-6 hybrid, but most likely you’ll go for the 258 horsepower of the 3.0 V6 diesel S350.