The new Mercedes-Benz S-class’ has made its long-awaited debut, with the new-gen model making its world premiere today. Internally known as the W223 (V223 in long-wheelbase form), the new S-class has – unsurprisingly – taken giant strides on the technology, comfort and safety fronts.
- New Mercedes S-class features second-gen MBUX system
- Rear-wheel steering, rear-seat airbag are optional extras
- Long wheelbase version to be launched in India in 2021
What are the fundamental changes with the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class on the outside?
It’s clear the design of the new Mercedes-Benz S-class has echoes of the facelifted E-class revealed last year. The LED headlights feature the ‘Digital Light’ system, which employs a module with three powerful LEDs that can project symbols and guidelines onto the road surface. Other prominent design highlights include a chrome-heavy grille with three horizontal blades, a new front bumper with larger air intakes, flush-fitting door handles and wraparound LED tail-lights, which are positioned beneath a thick bar of chrome that runs from one end to the other, accentuating the width of the car. Twin chrome-finished exhaust tips add a touch of sportiness to the tail of the new S-class, and buyers will be able to choose from 18- to 21-inch wheels.
It’s the long-wheelbase S-class that has always come to India, and the new version has grown 34mm in length, 22mm in width and 12mm in height. The wheelbase, too, has been increased by 51mm, which has helped free up 24mm of legroom for rear-seat passengers. Boot capacity has increased by 20 litres to 550 litres. Mercedes-Benz also claims the new S-class is one of the most aerodynamically efficient cars in the world, with a drag co-efficient of 0.22cd.
How different is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class’ interior?
The big talking point inside the new Mercedes-Benz S-class is its second-generation MBUX infotainment system. The cabin itself takes a minimalistic approach, and taking pride of place on the dash are a 12.8-inch tablet-style OLED infotainment screen, a 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument display and up to three screens – two mounted on the front seat backs, and one armrest-mounted tablet – for rear-seat passengers. All in all, the new S-class has 27 fewer buttons and switches compared to the outgoing S-class, with an increased emphasis on voice control meaning the MBUX system can now understand voice commands in 27 languages, and even from rear-seat passengers. Mercedes believes using voice control for in-car functions is the way forward.
Responding to a query by Autocar India, Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz AG Marketing & Sales, said, “I think the key for the future is the language interaction with our MBUX. And everyone experienced this maybe a decade ago how difficult it was to interact with the car via language. If you sit now and interact with our new-generation MBUX, it becomes so much more seamless, so much more easy, that if even not touching a screen or not touching a hard button, it becomes so natural to talk to your car and the car is doing what you want. So this is what we perceive for the future – the easy and seamless interaction with the car, and the strongest and best interactive what we offer and where we truly do believe, is language.”
The new S-class also features fingerprint, face and voice recognition to authenticate the driver and automatically adjust settings inside the car (or authenticate digital payments), as well as gesture controls for operating the sunroof and other functions. Plus, there's greater connectivity for each seat – any passenger can share a media file with another passenger using a drag-and-drop function, and calls can be transferred to a person in a specific seat.
There’s also an active ambient lighting system, which employs 263 LEDs, a head-up display with augmented reality, along with an Interior Assist function, which uses cameras to track movements of the car’s occupants and proactively trigger certain functions. For example, the system will switch on the rear cabin lights if the driver is reaching for an item on the rear seat in the dark. Also on the equipment list is a 31-speaker Burmester 4D surround-sound system and a centre airbag to prevent the driver and front passenger’s heads colliding in case of an accident. Mercedes-Benz also says the new S-class can receive over-the-air software updates over the course of its lifecycle for updates to the infotainment system, lighting and driving assistance systems.
What will the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class’ powertrain options be?
For the new S-class, Mercedes-Benz will offer 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol and diesel engine options in different states of tune. The petrol engine makes 367hp and 500Nm in the S 450, and 435hp and 520Nm in the S 500. Assisting it is a 48-volt ‘EQ Boost’ mild-hybrid system that can provide as much as 22hp and 250Nm of torque in short bursts.
The 3.0-litre diesel produces 286hp and 600Nm in the S 350d, and 330hp and 700Nm in the S 400d. All models except the S 350 get 4MATIC all-wheel-drive as standard, and a 9-speed automatic gearbox is standard for all versions. A petrol V8 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system is expected to follow, along with a plug-in hybrid version with an electric-only range of 100km.
Another highlight with the new S is its rear-axle steering system, which turns the rear wheels by up to 10 degrees in the opposite direction of the front axle when parking, and by up to 4.5 degrees in the same direction as the front axle at speeds of over 60kph. It also helps give the new S a tighter turning circle (under 11 metres). Part of the safety kit are a world-first frontal airbag for the rear-seat passenger as well as the Pre-Safe Impulse side function (part of the E-Active Body Control suspension), which lifts the car up by 80mm when it detects an impending side-on crash. Both these features are – along with the rear-wheel-steering system – optional extras.
Another trick up the new S-class’ sleeve is its autonomous driving ability. It gets Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, and by the second half of 2021, Mercedes says the new S-class will be able to drive entirely on its own on certain stretches with dense traffic – at speeds of up to 60kph – in Germany. As with all Level 3 autonomous-certified vehicles, the S-class will require the driver to be alert at all times and ready to take to the controls again should the situation demand it.
During the media interaction, Seeger confirmed that while there will be no coupéor cabriolet iterations of the new-generation S-class, a hotter AMG version is in the works, and a Maybach model based on the new S-class is also set to be revealed this year.
The new S-class will be manufactured at Mercedes-Benz’s brand-new Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, alongside the all-electric EQS, which is also set to be revealed in the coming months. However, Seeger clarified the while the EQS will derive some features from the S-class, it will have its own USPs.
“The S-class and EQS will not cannibalise each other. The S-class stands for the core of Mercedes-Benz; it’s the traditions and the heart of the brand Mercedes-Benz. The EQS – the full electric sibling of the S-class – will have S-class-specific and typical innovations, comfort features and luxurious approach, but we do see that customers expect, as well, things in addition if they are buying a full electric car, so the new EQS will provide new and additional features over the S-class.”
When will the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class be launched in India?
During the interaction, Seeger confirmed the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class will be launched in India in the second half of 2021, in long-wheelbase form.
What do you think of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class? Let us know in the comments.