Mercedes Benz has finally revealed the 2021 S-Class to the world. The S-Class combines artificial intelligence with the experience gained from 135 years of automobile engineering. Around 70 years ago, Mercedes-Benz laid the foundations for this model series with model 220. Since its market launch in 1951, more than 4 million S-Class Saloons have been delivered to customers around the world. The designation “S-Class” was officially introduced with the 116 series in 1972. In the last 10 years, the S-Class Saloon has been particularly popular in China, the USA, South Korea, and Germany. All in all, since the launch of the generation that is now in its run-out phase, more than 500,000 S-Class Saloons have been sold. And the latest one aims to carry that legacy forward.
Minor exterior changes bring the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class into the modern age. With a short front overhang, a long wheelbase, and a balanced rear overhang, the S-Class is designed as a classical saloon with perfect proportions. The wide track and flush-mounted wheels with modern designs give the vehicle a muscular look. The so-called character lines have been greatly reduced along the sides. Cleverly contoured surfaces with a sculptured look create special light effects. The front section impresses with its high-status radiator grille.
The headlamps characterize the front aspect of the car. They have the three-point daytime driving light signature that is typical of the S-Class, but this is flatter and somewhat smaller overall. The flush-mounted door handles (optional) are a completely new development. They are electrically extended when the driver approaches, or the outer surface of the door handle is stroked. Keyless access is provided by KEYLESS-GO. The dynamic appearance of the car is continued at the rear. Thanks to precisely designed, highly detailed interior features and certain animated functions, the rear lights contribute to the impression of high quality.
The S-Class has always been a place for comfortable travel and relaxed working. With the new generation, the interior has fully evolved into a “third place”, a refuge between the home and workplace. Nearly all comfort-related dimensions of both variants, the S-Class with a short and long wheelbase, have been improved in the front as well as on the rear seats. The sense of space is accordingly generous. The desired harmony between digital and analogue luxury results in revolutionary interior design, including associations with interior architecture and yacht design elements. The sculptured look of the dashboard, centre console and armrests appears to float above an expansive interior landscape. The systematic reduction in the number of controls underscores the minimalist appearance of the interior. A fine divide between the upper section of the dashboard and the large trim element structures the area and creates horizontal breadth.
Alongside up to five screens, the highlights include the large areas of trim in the dashboard and in the rear (in the Comfort Seat variant). These flow around the passengers and are a systematic further development of the wrap-around effect. One particularly attractive version of the trim is an open-pored wood veneer shot through with inlays of real aluminium that follow the contours. New design elements include the flat, four-square centre vents with horizontal nacelles. Two slim, vertical side vents on each side round off the ends of the dashboard. The driver display and media display offer a comprehensive aesthetic experience The appearance of the screens can be individualised with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service).
The seats literally invite the occupants to sit down and relax. Up to 19 motors in the front seats make for comfortable seating – a number that indicates the complexity of the technology installed in the seats. Ten different massage programmes are available in the new S-Class. These use the vibration motors and can enhance the effect of a relaxing massage with warmth on the hot-stone principle. To this end, the seat heating is combined with the inflatable air chambers in the active multi-contour seats.
The air chambers are now closer to the seat surface and are therefore even easier to control and feel. Five different rear seat variants make it possible to configure the rear of the S-Class as a working or rest area. One new feature is the heatable additional cushion for the head restraint, which is available for the two electrically adjustable rear seats. The adjustment range and angle of the front passenger seat in the chauffeur configuration and the reclining seat behind it have been improved as well.
The S-Class comes with two powertrains. The base Mercedes-Benz S500 gets a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine with an integrated starter-generator with EQ Boost – a 48-volt mild-hybrid system – similar to what you get on other modern Benz. That setup is good for 429 hp and 520 Nm of torque. Power travels to all four wheels and EQ Boost offers an additional 250 Nm and 21 hp over short bursts. The S580 gets the automaker’s twin-turbocharged V8 good for 469 hp and 700 Nm of torque. Both come paired to the same nine-speed automatic and have an electronically limited top speed of 210 kilometres per hour and five different drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual.
The new S-Class comes with virtually every safety feature that Mercedes-Benz currently offers. The list includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, active steering assist, lane-keep assist, lane-change assist, traffic sign recognition, front and rear cross-traffic alert, and active blind-spot monitoring. Brand-new for 2021 is hands-off recognition, which means you don’t need to move the steering wheel for the car to know you have control – simply put your hands on it. Also new for 2021 is the addition of standard Pre-Safe Impulse Control. The latest generation of the Driving Assistance Package has new and numerous improved functions. One example is the intelligent compliance with speed limits. The new assistance display in the driver display clearly shows the operating principle of the driving assistance systems as a full-screen view.
During severe frontal collisions, the rear airbag (optional extra for the S-Class with long wheelbase) can considerably reduce the loads acting on the head and neck area of the seat-belt-wearing occupants in the outer rear seats. The frontal airbag for the rear seat deploys particularly gently thanks to its innovative construction using a tubular structure. 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 PRE-SAFE Impulse Side: It can reduce the loads acting on the occupants because it directs the impact forces towards particularly resistant structures in the lower area of the vehicle. Innovative suspension systems ensure an impressive travel experience in the new S-Class. Rear-axle steering (optional) with a steering angle of up to 10° improves manoeuvrability in urban areas to the level of a compact car. The turning circle is reduced by up to two metres. Mercedes says the new S-Class will be available during the first half of 2021. Pricing isn’t set yet, but it should come in around $100,000 for the base sedan.