2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class Unveiled
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class made its long-awaited debut with today’s world premiere of the next-gen sedan. The new S-class, internally known as the W223 (V223 in the long-wheelbase form), has taken giant steps on the technology, comfort, and safety fronts, without surprise.
The architecture of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class showed traces of last year’s facelifted E-class. The LED headlights feature the ‘Digital Light’ system, which employs a module with three powerful LEDs capable of projecting onto the road surface symbols and directions. Other prominent design highlights include a chrome-heavy grill with three horizontal blades, a new front bumper with larger air intakes, flush-fitting door handles and wraparound LED taillights that are placed beneath a thick chrome bar that runs from one end to the other, accentuating the car’s width. Twin chrome-finished exhaust tips add a touch of sportiness to the new S-class tail and buyers can choose between 18- and 21-inch wheels.
It is the long-wheelbase S-class that has always come to India and the new edition has grown in length by 34 mm, width by 22 mm, and height by 12 mm. Even the wheelbase was expanded by 51 mm, which helped to free up a 24 mm legroom for passengers in the rear seat. The boot capacity grew to 550 liters by 20 liters. Mercedes-Benz also claims that the new S-class is one of the most powerful aerodynamic cars in the world, with a drag coefficient of 0.22cd.
The big talking point within the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class is the infotainment system of the second generation MBUX. The cabin itself takes a streamlined approach, with a 12.8-inch tablet-style OLED infotainment panel, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, and up to three displays for rear-seat passengers – two mounted on the front seatbacks and one armrest-mounted monitor – taking pride of place on the dash.
Overall, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class has 27 fewer buttons and switches compared to the outgoing S-class, with an increased emphasis on voice control meaning that the MBUX system can now understand voice commands in 27 languages, and even from rear-seat passengers. Mercedes claims the way forward is with the use of voice control for in-car functions.
Britta Seeger, a member of the Mercedes-Benz AG Marketing & Sales Management Board, said, “I think the key for the future is language contact with our MBUX. And maybe a decade ago everyone encountered this, how difficult it was to communicate with the car through language.
If you are sitting now and engaging with our new generation MBUX, it becomes so much more smooth, so much simpler, that even though you don’t touch a screen or press a hard button, it becomes so easy to speak to your car and the car does what you want. So this is what we consider for the future – it’s the language that is the simple and smooth contact with the car, and the strongest and best interactive we deliver and where we believe.
Also, the latest S-class features fingerprint, face, and voice recognition to authenticate the driver and automatically change settings within the car (or authenticate digital payments), as well as gesture controls for sunroof operation and other functions. Moreover, there is greater accessibility for each seat – any passenger can share a media file with another passenger using a drag-and-drop feature and can switch calls to an individual in a particular seat.
There is also an integrated ambient lighting system that uses 263 LEDs, a head-up display with augmented reality, along with an Interior Assist feature that uses cameras to monitor the occupants of the car and enable those functions proactively.
For example, if the driver reaches in the dark for an object on the back seat, the device will turn on the rear cabin lights. A 31-speaker Burmester 4D surround-sound system and middle airbag are also on the equipment list to avoid the heads of the driver and front passenger colliding in the event of an accident. Mercedes-Benz also says the new S-class will offer over-the-air software updates for improvements to the infotainment system, lighting, and driving assistance systems over the course of its lifecycle.
Mercedes-Benz will be providing 3.0-liter, six-cylinder petrol and diesel engine options for the new S-class in various tuning conditions. In the S 450, the petrol engine makes 367hp and 500Nm, and in the S 500, it makes 435hp and 520Nm. Assisting it is a mild-hybrid 48-volt ‘EQ Boost’ system that can produce as much as 22hp and 250Nm of torque in short bursts.
The 3.0-liter diesel produces 286hp and 600Nm in the S 350d, and the S 400d produces 330hp and 700Nm. All models except the S 350 get 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard, and all variants have a 9-speed automatic gearbox. A petrol V8 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and a plug-in hybrid variant with an electric-only range of 100 km is planned to follow.
Another highlight of the new S is its rear-axle steering feature, which, when parking, turns the rear wheels up to 10 degrees in the opposite direction of the front axle and up to 4.5 degrees in the same direction as the front axle at speeds of over 60 kph. It also helps to give the new S a more compact turning radius (less than 11 meters). Part of the safety kit is a world-first frontal airbag for rear-seat passengers as well as the Pre-Safe Impulse side feature (part of the E-Active Body Control suspension), which raises the car by 80 mm when it detects an imminent side-on collision. Both of these features are optional additions – along with the rear-wheel-steering mechanism.
Another trick up the sleeve of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class 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 autonomously qualified Level 3 vehicles, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class will require the driver to be alert at all times and ready to take it back to the controls should the situation warrant it.
“The S-class and the EQS are not going to be cannibalizing each other. The S-class stands for the center of Mercedes-Benz; it is the Mercedes-Benz brand’s values and heart. The EQS – the S-class’ full electric sibling – will have S-class-specific and traditional technologies, comfort features, and luxury approach, but we see that consumers still expect stuff if they purchase a fully electric vehicle, so the new EQS will have different and additional features throughout the S-class.”
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-class will be introduced in India in the second half of 2021, in long-wheelbase form, Seeger reported during the interaction.