Mercedes-Benz unveils the all-new S-Class

This is it, folks. An all-new avatar of what’s widely regarded as the best car in the world has just been unveiled. Say hello to the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class!

This is a significant unveiling for more than one reason. Firstly, the S-Class is the world's best-selling full-size luxury sedan. Mercedes-Benz's flagship is also the gold standard against which rivals measure themselves. More crucially, Daimler believes this is the car that is going to bring Mercedes-Benz back to profitability as it battles a demand slump inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as disruptions in the form of Electric Vehicles.

So, what's new in the all-new S-Class? Let’s dig into the details and find out. 

Elegance personified. As always. 

Right from the W116 series in the seventies to the outgoing W222 series, S-Class has always been the very definition of automotive elegance. The new model is no different. 

Up front, the trapezoidal grille has grown in size but, thankfully, not as much to intimidate onlookers like in some of it's rivals. The long, sculpted hood, the cab-rearward stance, the stretched wheelbase and the short, stubby rear give the car proportions to die for. Exquisitely-detailed LED headlights, triangular two-section LED taillights, door handles that sit flush with the body and subdued character lines on either side further add to the appeal.

Despite its size, the S-Class continues to be a wind-cheater with a co-efficient of drag of just 0.22, making it one of the world's most aerodynamic cars.  

High on tech. High on luxury.

Those two statements could be short but they pretty much sum up the cabin of the all-new S-Class. The technologically-advanced cabin screams opulence any which way you look at and will leave no room for owners to complain. 

The dashboard embraces minimalism with a huge 12.8-inch OLED infotainment screen dominating the proceedings. While the driver gets a 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster providing him with vital information, the rear passengers get their own touchscreens mounted on each of the two front seat backs as well as an armrest-mounted tablet. Mercedes-Benz's second-generation MBUX infotainment system powers these screens with more emphasis placed on voice and gesture controls rather than physical buttons. The car uses fingerprint, face and voice recognition to authenticate the occupants and adjust settings automatically. The screens can be personalized with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service).

The seats - or rather plush thrones - don't just score on the luxury factor. Each of them have loads of tech inside. For instance, the driver's seat has up to 19 motors and actuators, four airbags and two exciters (resonance transmitters) incorporated within. Apart from every possible way of adjustment, there is a choice of 10 massage programs to choose from. Imagine winding up on this after a long and tiring day. Bliss, isn't it?

The equipment list include an active ambient lighting system which employs 263 LEDs, a 31-speaker Burmester 4D surround-sound system, Air Balance active fragrancing and ionization package and an Energizing Comfort function that detects stress level of occupants from linked smart devices and recommends one of the many available fitness or wellness programs. 

V12 is gone but engine options are aplenty 

The mainstay of the new S-Class' power-train lineup is a pair of 3.0-liter, in-line six-cylinder engines. The petrol is available in two states of tune - 367 horsepower and 500 Nm in the S450 and 435 horsepower and 520 Nm in the S500 - both assisted by a 48-volt 'EQ Boost' mild-hybrid system. The diesel also has two states of tune - 286 horsepower and 600 Nm in the S350d and 330 horsepower and 700 Nm in the S400d. A 9-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line-up while all variants except the S350d get the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system as standard.

Five drive modes are on offer - ECO, COMFORT, SPORT, SPORT+ and INDIVIDUAL - that lets the driver modify the power-train, suspension, steering and ESP characteristics.

A V8 engine option would join the line-up shortly afterwards as will a plug-in hybrid version with an electric-only range of 100 km. For the first-time ever, the S-Class would also spawn an all-electric version - the EQS - a ground-up luxury electric sedan that will rival the Tesla Model S. 

The S-Class also has a party trick - a steerable rear axle that allows the rear wheels to turn as much as 10 degrees. At parking speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels for added maneuverability while at speeds in excess of 60 km/h, they turn in the same direction as the front wheels for added stability. The E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension works in tandem with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and CURVE functions to predict surface undulations and adjust settings accordingly.

Top-notch safety guaranteed

One of the hallmarks of the S-Class over the years has been the way it kept pushing the safety envelope. What you see in the S-Class today is what you'll get in cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic five years down the line. The new S-Class does the same thing. Yet again.

S-Class' armoury include a lightweight aluminium hybrid body-shell, hardened high-strength steel safety cell, MULTIBEAM LED headlights with 84 individual diodes, Digital Light system capable of projecting guidelines and warning symbols onto the road ahead, the first-ever frontal airbags for rear seat occupants in addition to the driver, passenger, curtain and belt airbags, Mercedes-Benz's standard PRE-SAFE suite with an innovative Impulse Side feature that raises the vehicle body by up to 80 mm when it detects an impending side impact and a new URBAN GUARD suite for all-round monitoring of the vehicle when parked. It even has the ability to locate and recover the vehicle in case of a theft.

With hardware comprising of LiDAR, 4 multi-mode radar sensors, 1 long-range radar sensor, 1 multi-purpose camera up front, 4 close-range cameras for 360-degree vision and 12 ultrasonic sensors, the S-Class gets every conceivable driving assistance system out there. If the regulations permit, the S-Class also has a DRIVE PILOT feature that bestows the car with a SAE Level-3 autonomous driving capability.

MBUX is improved and smarter

Debuting in the new S-Class is the new and improved version of Mercedes-Benz User Experience - MBUX in short.

From the brilliant Head-Up Display with augmented reality tech to the INTERIOR ASSIST function that uses cameras to track occupant movements and proactively trigger certain functions and everything in-between including the infotainment system for every occupant of the car, the MBUX has every damn thing the S-Class offers in its control. As one of the images above suggest, it's a freaking computer inside!

Unmatched legacy

Though the brand's association with luxury saloons date back to early 20th century, it wasn't until the 1956 220 S 'Ponton' Mercedes-Benz started using the letter 'S' on its luxury offerings. The S-Class nomenclature came into existence much later when the W116 series debuted in 1972.

Since then, the S-Class has been pushing the boundaries of luxury, technology and safety with each successive generation. 

The all-new S-Class, code-named W223 (short wheelbase) and V223 (long wheelbase) internally, is now assigned with the unenviable task of building on the rich legacy while staying true to the heritage carefully built over decades. At first glance, the new S-Class seems more than prepared for it.

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