A Brief Look at the Mercedes-Benz 400

The Evolution of Mercedes-Benz 400: A History Spanning Over 50 Years

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class, and C-Class are among the few car models that have defied the test of time, with new generations continuing to dominate the luxury car markets worldwide. One model, in particular, has continually set the bar high for other cars in its league, and that is the Mercedes-Benz 400. The model has been around since the early 1960s and continues to be a popular choice of car enthusiasts worldwide. In this article, we will take a look at the history and evolution of the Mercedes-Benz 400.

The First Generation (W115: 1968 to 1976)

The first-generation Mercedes-Benz 400, known as the W115 series, was introduced in 1968, replacing the W110. This model, which was also known as the “New Generation” by Mercedes-Benz, was an entry-level luxury car featuring 4-cylinder and 5-cylinder engines. The W115 was offered in four different versions- 200, 220, 230, and 240D- with the diesel option being the most popular.

The first-generation 400 underwent several updates between 1968 and 1976. In 1973, the engines were further modified to keep up with stringent exhaust emission laws, and this resulted in reduced power output. In 1975, a 4-speed manual transmission was introduced, which was the first time a manual gearbox had been offered for the model. Other important changes that occurred in the first generation included a redesign of the front and rear lights, a switch to radial tires, and the incorporation of safety features such as seat belts and a padded dashboard.

The Second Generation (W126: 1979 to 1991)

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz 400, also referred to as the W126, was introduced in 1979. This new series was a significant upgrade compared to the first-generation model, featuring a suite of advanced features and options, including the first ABS system in a car. In addition, it had a more powerful engine, offering V8 and V6 options, which allowed it to reach 60mph in just under 8 seconds.

Throughout its production run, the second-generation Mercedes-Benz 400 underwent three significant updates, with each update bringing new features and design changes. The first update in 1985 saw the introduction of new engines, including the first turbo-diesel engine, which was much more powerful and efficient than previous models. The 1985 update also introduced the super-luxury V8 S-Class coupe, the SEC, which had an even more powerful engine, luxurious interior, and cutting-edge features.

In 1986, the second update brought new features such as an electronically-controlled five-speed automatic transmission, improved climate control, and more comfortable seating. The third and final update in 1991 heralded the end of second-generation production, bringing a new design for both the exterior and interior, the addition of new safety features, and the option for an airbag system.

The Third Generation (W140: 1991 to 1998)

The third-generation Mercedes-Benz 400, also known as the W140, was introduced in 1991, featuring a larger and more spacious body design to keep up with a growing luxury car market. The W140 series was the largest Mercedes-Benz S-Class up to that point, and it was offered with a choice of V8 and V12 engines.

The third-generation 400 also boasted new safety innovations such as traction control and an active suspension system that adjusted to various driving conditions. It also featured an entirely new design that introduced a more aerodynamic body and a premium level of comfort with features like electric windows and central locking, rain-sensing wipers, and a dashboard that could adjust for height and angle.

The final years of the third generation Mercedes-Benz 400 saw significant enhancements too. In 1995, a new V8 engine was introduced with even more power, and the suspension and brake systems were further improved. In 1998, the W140 was replaced by the W220.

The Fourth Generation (W220: 1998 to 2005)

The fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz 400, known as the W220, was introduced in 1998. This model continued the trend set by its predecessors by bringing new and innovative technology features, improved safety, and a sleek and modern design.

The W220 series was the first to feature an approach control system, which used an array of radar sensors to detect oncoming traffic and automatically adjusted the car’s speed, reducing the risk of a collision. It was also the first to include a keyless ignition system and an active body control system for improved ride comfort.

In 2003, the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz 400 underwent a significant update, which included a slight redesign of the interior and an upgrade to the engine. The car now boasted a more powerful V8 engine, capable of producing 302 horsepower and reaching 60mph in 5.5 seconds.

The Fifth Generation (W221: 2005 to 2013)

The fifth-generation Mercedes-Benz 400, known as the W221, was introduced in 2005, representing yet another stride forward in design and technology. The model now featured a more rounded and sleek exterior design, modern-themed interior, and numerous tech upgrades, including blind spot detection, adaptive headlights, and pre-collision system.

The W221 generation also boasted a new V8 engine, with an output of 382 horsepower. It featured enhanced performance and a more effortless driving experience, thanks to the upgraded seven-speed automatic transmission system.

The Sixth Generation (W222: 2013 to the present)

The sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz 400, also known as the W222, was introduced in 2013, boasting an entirely new design style and technological advancements. The W222 offered a range of engine options, from V6 to V8 to V12.

The W222 was the first to introduce touchpad controls, an active park assist system, and a full-color heads-up display. The 360-degree camera system was also introduced, which uses four cameras to create a bird’s eye view of the car, making parking and reversing more convenient.

The Mercedes-Benz 400 series has undergone significant evolution in its 50-year history. The various updates, upgrades, and technological advancements showcase the dedication and commitment of Mercedes-Benz to creating vehicles of exceptional quality. From the W115 series to the present-day W222 series, the Mercedes-Benz 400 remains one of the most iconic and distinctive luxury cars on the road today.


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