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Merc’s flagship saloon is reborn with more ‘chips’ on its shoulder

S Muralidhar | Updated on September 10, 2020 Published on September 10, 2020

The new exterior and interior of the production version is one of the most extensive redesigns that the S-Class has ever seen   -  Mercedes-Benz AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans

The S-Class takes the lead in extensive digitisation and breaks out new safety features for rear occupants

During the last few decades, it certainly wouldn’t have been lonely at the top for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Yet it has worn the crown with relative ease in the luxury full-size saloon category. This benchmark in the segment has just been launched in its new avatar, and this next generation model promises to be even more of a trendsetter for the three-pointed star.

Earlier this month, Mercedes-Benz officially unveiled the new S-Class featuring a big leap in the sheer amount of embedded forward-looking technologies that it sports, many of them as part of standard equipment. It gets a host of new safety breakthroughs, autonomous driving capabilities and will also be launched in an all-electric version soon with a battery range of over 700 km.

Thanks to speculation from the multitude of spy shots of the camouflaged test vehicles, the new S-Class design had already been written about even before the official unveiling. Unlike many of those premature claims that Mercedes had messed up the design of the new generation, the final production version we see in these pictures, however, shows off a saloon that has matured, will appeal to even younger customers and yet has retained the soul of a flagship. Still, the new exterior and interior is one of the most extensive redesigns that the S-Class has ever seen.

Tauter, but spacious

The new model now seems to be more taut with a forward-leaning rear section, giving it an almost coupe-like profile. Yet, the new S-Class is longer, more spacious and even delivers more luggage room than its predecessor. The classic S-Class long bonnet, high shoulder-line and sleek minimalist surfaces are all there, but have been reinterpreted. The headlamps and tail-lamps are entirely new, with a new, more AMG-like LED light signature and even more high-tech lighting options. A lot of the changes have been driven by younger buyers in newer markets like China, which is now the single largest market for the S-Class; the preference of that market is also the reason why this saloon will mostly be made in its long wheelbase version. The addition of rear-axle steering (turns up to 10 degrees) to reduce turning radius by 2 m is possibly also been driven by the needs of some of the emerging markets.

The cabin of the new S-Class gets even more extensive changes while continuing to retain the focus on luxurious comfort for rear-seat occupants. Though some of the new features, including the number of digital screens, are variant specific, one big change is the large 3D driver display which replaces a number of physical controls. The head-up display with augmented reality content and the second-gen MBUX with eye-tracking offer new user interface and automated functions. Using cameras in the overhead control panel and learning algorithms, MBUX Interior Assist recognises and anticipates the intentions of occupants. It does this by interpreting the head direction, hand movements and body language, and responds with corresponding vehicle functions. For example, if the driver looks over her shoulder towards the rear window, Interior Assist automatically opens the sunblind.

Rear-seat focus

The seats of the new S-Class continue to offer most customised experience with multiple motors for adjustments and for 10 different massage functions. It also offers now even more leg-room for rear occupants and a nearly flat reclining position. More than 50 electronic components in the new S-Class can be updated with new software over-the-air including the entire MBUX infotainment system, the driver display, the driving assistance systems and the multibeam LED and digital lighting systems. There is no need for the customer to visit a workshop for this purpose. Furthermore, the vehicle remains up-to-date throughout its lifecycle and is equipped for new features.

Two new safety features will help the S-Class break new ground in this segment. One is the rear airbag (optional extra for the long wheelbase) which can considerably reduce the loads acting on the head and neck area of the seat-belt-wearing occupants in the outer rear seats. Also, when a side impact with another vehicle threatens, the vehicle body can be raised by the E-ACTIVE body control suspension (optional) within a few tenths of a second. This is a new function of the PRE-SAFE Impulse Side. It reduces the loads acting on the occupants by directing the impact forces towards particularly resistant structures in the lower area of the vehicle. It is expected that from the second half of 2021, the S-Class will be able to drive in conditionally automated mode with the new DRIVE PILOT (optional extra), in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks, on suitable motorway sections in Germany.

When the new S-Class is launched later this year, six-cylinder in-line petrol and diesel engines in various output levels will be available, with the choice of a V8 engine with integrated starter generator (ISG) and a 48-volt onboard electrical system to follow shortly afterwards. A plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of around 100 km will follow in 2021.

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Published on September 10, 2020
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