Daimler’s flagship saloon has always been good at that. It’s not enough to just carry around a heavyweight nameplate and hope for the best, which is why Mercedes has always pushed the S-Class to consistently improve as an overall product.
Recently, a 2021 S-Class prototype was spotted in traffic by our spy photographers, driving in front of a current-gen model, which allows us to draw one or two parallels between the two vehicles, even though the new W223 remains properly well-disguised.
How low can you go?
If you ignore that large chunk of body cladding on top of the hood, you’ll notice how the front fascia of the all-new model appears lower than on the previous car. This might be because of how the hood tapers off towards the grille, which by the way looks wider than the one on the current W222.
Another, probably less important design trait is that the license plate mount will be positioned lower, which makes sense if you have a larger grille with not a lot of room underneath.
Other than that, expect the car to feature the German automaker’s new design language (or at least some of it), which can be seen on models such as the all-new CLS or the all-new A-Class. This results in less creases running alongside the body of the car. As for the taillights, they could very well have a horizontal design, unlike the teardrop ones on the W222.
How much tech can it hold?
This is sort of a silly question to ask when it comes to a flagship Mercedes-Benz. The answer will always be as much as possible. Safety and connectivity should be top-notch, while autonomy should be at Level 3, where some parts of the driving experience will be fully autonomous, according to R&D boss Ola Källenius.
Speaking to Car and Driver at Auto China, Mercedes design boss Hartmut Sinkwitz said that the company will be putting a greater emphasis on “appealing to occupants’ sense of touch.” This will reportedly be reflected in multiple areas. Details are limited but the magazine suggests the scroll wheel interface for the COMAND infotainment system could be dropped and replaced with something more touch-centric.
The S-Class’ 12.3-inch displays will also be changed, but Sinkwitz was coy on specifics. He suggested they won’t be replaced by one massive screen, as that would be cold and impersonal, but he hinted the model could use a setup similar to the one on the Vision Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept. Interestingly, the prototype we spied in July, did not have the current car’s dual screen display, though, this could be an early development tester.
The current S-Class offers a host of different interior lighting options and Sinkwitz said this will continue in the next-generation flagship. As he explained, “There are more opportunities than we currently have.” Sinkwitz went to say we can expect the company to make great use of direct and indirect light as well as ambient lighting. He also suggested the color changing air vents from the A-Class could make their way to the range-topping sedan.
Faster, more maneuverable and more efficient
While we haven’t heard any rumblings regarding the W223’s engine range, we expect it to feature multiple petrol and diesel units, as well as plug-in hybrid and fully-electric versions, where the latter will probably arrive sometime after the official launch.
Whatever Mercedes decides to do with regards to engines, they will surely be more fuel efficient and probably more powerful than the current ones.
Another interesting point is the fact that Mercedes have been seen testing 2020 S-Class mules with rear axle steering, which means the production models will probably get the technology too – something Audi has already implemented on their latest A8 flagship.
Regardless of when the all-new W223 S-Class breaks cover, the car isn’t expected in showrooms until the year 2020.
*Article has been revised with new information and spy images