After numerous teasers and a number of short episodes explaining the car’s innovations, the all-new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship luxury sedan has finally been unveiled. The S-Class has been a vehicle that showcases the German brand’s technological prowess, and this all-new model is no exception. As a vehicle that has always pushed the boundaries of what a car can offer, this all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is packed with a number of technologies you’ve never before seen in any car.
As for its exterior design, it’s a careful improvement of the previous model’s looks. It won’t set the world on fire, but it certainly looks more authoritative and elegant. The front end features a bolder interpretation of the brand’s signature grille which are then flanked by a pair of adaptive LED headlights as standard. Customers can also opt for what Mercedes-Benz calls Digital Light. This LED lighting system has 1.3 million tiny actuators in each headlight and is even able to project visual warnings on the road. Combined, the entire headlight system features 2.6 million pixels. While the side profile looks similar to the previous model, it now features pop-out door handles as standard.
While the exterior redesign is evolutionary, the interior is a different story. It’s a radically-different layout compared to the previous model’s interior. The all-new S-Class debuts Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation of its MBUX infotainment system. It’s now a full touch screen as the company has decided to ditch the touchpad controller for the S-Class. The portrait OLED screen features haptic feedback, while the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant is can now be summoned from all five seats. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, but drivers can opt for a 3D digital gauge cluster without the need for 3D glasses.
This next-generation of MBUX also gains a number of security features, too. Alongside the classic entry of a PIN, a new authentication method ensures a high level of security. Fingerprint (via the home button), face, and voice recognition are combined for top-notch security. This allows access to individual settings or verification of digital payment processes from the vehicle.
The next-generation MBUX system can support up to five screens, the fifth one being a detachable small tablet mounted at the rear center console for controlling in-vehicle functions. In addition to this, the LED ambient lights are now more than just for show. The number of LEDs has increased from 40 in the previous model to 250 in the all-new S-Class. These lights can now function as safety features. For instance, the blind spot warning glows in red in addition to the visual warning from the side mirrors.
Also new for the S-Class is the high-resolution head-up display (HUD). It uses a digital mirror device by Texas Instruments that consists of 1.3 million individual tiny mirrors that constantly adjust the image it projects. This design allows the HUD to feature augmented reality (AR) technology. For instance, the HUD can highlight an approaching object right at your line of sight or superimpose arrows into the intersection your eyes are seeing so you know where to turn when the navigation is turned on.
Now, the main highlight of MBUX is its ability to use a wide range of vehicle systems and sensor data to monitor the vehicle’s occupants. Creepy? Depends on who you ask. For example, the exit warning function in the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class now uses cameras to recognize that an occupant wants to leave the vehicle. If another vehicle is approaching in the vehicle’s blind spot, the aforementioned LED ambient lighting becomes part of the exit warning system and flashes red.
Because of these interior sensors, the next-generation S-Class debuts what Mercedes calls its Interior Assist feature. These sensors are able to monitor the driver’s movements and actions and anticipate their every need. For example, if the driver wants to look over his shoulder or at the rear, the S-Class can automatically lower the sunblinds if needed. If the driver is also looking for something in the front seats, the interior lights will turn on automatically.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class will also feature true Level 3 autonomous driving capability. Through a combination of sensors, Lidar systems, and a high-definition digital map in its memory, the Drive Pilot system can drive completely feet- and hands-free on certain roads around the world. Mercedes-Benz notes that the driver should still be ready to take over the situation when the system prompts them to do so.
The all-new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class will come with a range of electrified engines as standard. The range kicks off with the S 450 and S 500, which are powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 48-volt mild-hybrid turbo gasoline engine, which produces 362 hp and 429 hp, respectively. The S 580 4Matic comes with AWD and a 496 hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. There will also be an electrified diesel range in Europe in the form of the S 350d, S 350d 4Matic, and S 400d 4Matic.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes as standard with an adaptive Airmatic suspension as standard, but buyers can opt for a more sophisticated E-Active Body Control Suspension. This sophisticated suspension system reads the road ahead and can proactively adjust the ride height or softness of a specific wheel depending on the upcoming road condition. In addition, E-Active Body Control also leans the car into a corner like a motorcycle, not necessarily for handling, but for a stable ride.
Lastly, the all-new S-Class comes with a new rear-wheel steering system that makes this full-size luxury sedan as maneuverable as a subcompact hatch. Because the rear wheels are able to turn by as much as 10 degrees, the standard-wheelbase S-Class has a turning radius of just 5.25 meters, while the long-wheelbase S-Class is at 5.45 meters.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is expected to go on sale by the first quarter of 2021 in global markets.