After a long teaser campaign, Mercedes-Benz finally took the wraps off its new S-Class.
Boasting innovations such as facial recognition and the world’s first frontal airbags for rear passengers, the iconic luxury sedan brings luxury and high technology together in the most advanced Mercedes yet.
The second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) makes its debut in the highly digitised cabin, offering up to five screens in the front and rear, some with OLED technology. At the touch of a button, the new 3D driver display for the first time allows spatial perception of the scene with a real 3D effect, thanks to eye-tracking.
Also new is a head-up display with augmented reality which, for example when navigating, shows animated turn arrows seemingly projected onto the road lane. An optional digital light system projects warning symbols onto the road surface to warn the driver of roadworks or traffic signs.
There are individual MBUX services for every passenger, and there’s more focus than ever on rear-seat passengers as many S-Class owners tend to be chauffeur driven. For example, you can say: “Hey Mercedes, turn on the hot relaxing massage programme and play me some classical music.” There are up to 10 different massage programmes.
Using facial recognition, the car recognises people as they step aboard and arranges everything to their liking. Other technical highlights include electric front seats that are each adjusted by up to 18 individual motors, 4D sound built into the seats, and gesture control that operates functions such as opening and closing the sunroof with the wave of a hand.
“It’s about how all of these signature details add up … it’s that priceless feeling of being well taken care of,” says Daimler chair Ola Kallenius of the new S-Class.
“The designers have created a feel-good ambience with lounge character marked by elegance, high quality and lightness. But the feel-good aspect goes even deeper: With high ride quality and low noise levels, as well as an extensive range of Energising Comfort programmes, the S-Class looks after the wellbeing of its passengers.”
Air suspension with continuously adjustable damping is standard equipment. The optional, fully active E-Active Body Control suspension offers additional side impact protection. Radar sensors identify an imminent side impact and protect the occupants by using air cushions in the seats to move the driver or front-seat passenger towards the centre of the vehicle, and simultaneously raises the vehicle to divert more of the crash impact through the car’s stiff lower sill, which is stronger than the doors.
The new S-Class (which is internally dubbed the W223) is available in standard and long wheelbase versions, with respective lengths of 5,179mm and 5,289mm.
For the first time in three generations, the S-Class has horizontal tail lights, and they’re hi-tech LED units, of course. Optional flush-mounted door handles, a new feature for Mercedes, electrically extend when the driver approaches.
The Drive Pilot system gives the car level 3 autonomous driving ability that will be introduced in the S-Class in Germany in 2021, and subsequently in other countries based on local regulations. The car is pre-equipped and ready for the world’s first level 4 system, which makes the car almost fully able to drive itself, once regulations allow.
The big car is made more agile by the inclusion of rear axle steering, which reduces the turning circle by 2m to make it more manoeuvrable in tight spots.
The initial model range consists of six-cylinder, 3.0l engines in either turbo diesel or turbo petrol guises.
The petrol range comprises the S450, with outputs of 270kW and 500Nm, and the S500 (320kW/520Nm). Both models feature 4Matic all-wheel drive and nine-speed auto transmissions.
The diesel range comprises the S350d (210kW/600Nm) in a choice of rear-wheel drive and 4Matic models, and the S400d (243kW/700Nm), which is available as a 4Matic only.
A V8 engine with an integrated starter generator and 48-volt on-board electrical system will be available soon, and a plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of about 100km will follow in 2021.
The upcoming EQS will be the electrically powered sibling of the S-Class.