Will the new Mercedes S-Class rule superior once again?

The new S-Class is a true revolution for the model. It's still got everything an S-Class should, but has it been executed properly?

All images courtesy of netcarshow.com

THE NEW S-CLASS

Let's talk about aesthetics. I always say that I'm not the arbiter of looks, thus my opinion is irrelevant. However, I want to share my thoughts. So, the S-Class. It's a revolution, that's for sure. First thing that comes into notice very quickly is the less angular and more smooth body. It has far fewer creases and angles and bodylines than before. It looks far smoother and more aerodynamic. It's probably far better in terms of drag coefficient than the outgoing model. To me, though, the general shape and front end reminds me of an elongated E-Class. I know everyone is saying this, but it's true.

It used to be the case that the S-Class was the flagship of design, and everything trickled down to other models. First the S, then the E and C and so on. But, now, I think this has reversed completely. Out of the three chief saloons Mercedes make, the C-Class came first out of all the new looks. Then, the E-Class came along and adopted very similar design to the C. And, now, we see the S, which looks like an E, which itself looks like a C. I hope that's not too confusing. Don't get me wrong, the trio is wonderful.

Smooth. That's for sure.

Smooth. That's for sure.

The smooth aesthetics have meant that the car is aerodynamic. Mercedes have made the new S-Class truly air-friendly. It's not for performance or high speed stability necessarily. It's an S-Class, so it's more about the comfort and sound insulation at speed. Hidden door handles can be optioned and the wheels have been designed to slice through the air as effectively as possible. Mercedes have even fitted the car with special vents in the arches to blow warm air from the engine around the wheels to improve the smoothness of the airflow beneath the car.

Personally, I prefer the pre-facelift E-Class and the C-Class is totally sound. But, the S-Class? Generally, um, it's a no from me. It's still incredibly elegant, but it's not as menacing anymore. Whenever I saw an S-Class, I though ''Look at him, probably a very rich drug dealer''. It was an incredible machine which had immense road presence and exciting aesthetics. This new one, though, is less so. Right now, I think the BMW 7-Series looks best. And I for one like the big kidneys on it, too. The Audi A8 is perfectly okay, too. But it's just okay. The S-Class is probably third in terms of aesthetics, with the clear dominance of the BMW.

The rear lights are very CLS to me. The triangular shape and angling just screams CLS to me. It's perfectly good, but it isn't as great as (again) the outgoing model. I wonder if they'll do an S-Class coupe or, maybe, bring back the CL name to rival the 8-Series. Either way, the rear is probably the best bit. It seems to be the only part of the car to retain the aggressive and dynamic aesthetic theme. The front and side profile? Less so.

INTERIOR

The interior is a sight to behold. This was always the S-Class' stronghold. The interior is absolutely stunning, even with that massive Tesla-style screen. It looks like a quality item and represents what Stuttgart does best. The material quality is supreme, no doubt. It really looks the part, too. Mercedes nail interior mood lighting too. There's a bloke around my area who I sometimes see driving at night in an E-Class and he's always got this purple colour selection for the mood lighting. At night, it just looks like nothing else. Spaceship.

The interior is clearly dominated by leather, wood/metal and piano black. The latter could be replaced but, it is what it is. We live with piano black nowadays and, while beautiful, that's only the case for about 5 seconds before someone scratches it or gets their greasy fingerprints on it. Ohh, and dust collection. But, we'll gloss over that. Let's look at it without those obvious faillings. It really, really looks the part. Chief among the interior is that massive tablet screen that looks like it came straight out of a Tesla Model S, only someone punched it at the bottom to give it some curve.

Now, here's the thing. Climate controls. Like in the Audi A8, Mercedes has shifted these to the touchscreen. This is not good. I don't like it. You could find a knob or button without looking away from the road. But, a touchscreen? Nah. Sure, it has haptic feedback so you know you're pressing some digital button but, it's not the same. And, the simplicity too! My Hyundai Getz has three massive dials for the climate control - Direction, fan speed and temperature. I don't have to look away from the road for a split second to control this. It's safer. But, not the case in the S-Class. This sort of goes against the car's chief identifier - Safety. BMW wins here, because the 7-Series has physical controls for climate. Sorry Mercedes, Munich has you here.

Definitely the best interior combo, for me.

Definitely the best interior combo, for me.

Just quickly. Carbon fibre trim or dark woods and black leather are all very fine and dandy. But, this exquisite wood and white (I suspect Designo) leather are just perfect. This S-Class spec is absolutely mesmerising and a true sight to behold. I love it, and I want it. But, I definitely can't afford it. Come on, now, EuroMillions.

TECHNOLOGY

The second generation MBUX infotainment system is up there fighting BMW's iDrive. The new central display uses OLED screen technology and haptic feedback to truly emphasise the serenity and beauty of the system. It's a 12.8 inch system positioned in a portrait orientation. It can be updated remotely via over-the-air data. Ahead of the driver, there's a new digital instrument panel with 3D effects. These graphics can be adjusted to suit the drivers mood, with sportier and more ergonomic display options. I personally like a reduced instrument panel. Speed, tachometer and not much more, really. Perhaps real-time miles per-gallon.

As can be seen in the gallery above, the heads-up display is all new. It has augmented reality tech which shows you direction arrows for the precise turning location. Handy in tight streets, that. It can present you with speed limits, warnings and general prompts, too. I love HUDs. I really want one in my car. But, it's a Hyundai Getz from 2008. So, yeah. Anyway, this Mercedes system is really good. A standard heads-up display is also available, meaning you have speed information but none of the navigation witchcraft.

The new Mercedes MBUX system has removed a total of 27 buttons from the S-Class' dashboard. Up to three displays can be fitted at the rear of the car, for the executive passengers. In fact, most new owners will spend most of their time there. Two as near as makes no difference 12 inch touchscreens are fixed to the seat backs of the front seats. They allows for internet connectivity, email checks, TV watching and that sort of thing. There's also a removeable tablet stored in the centre arm rest in five-seat variants. In four-seat variants of the S-Class, a special slot in the centre console is designated. Mercedes have also continued with the Energizing Comfort Programmes. These are options that automatically control the atmosphere of the cabin, meaning that things like temperature, audio volume or mood lighting adjusts to suit the mood of the occupants. There's even a mode which generates 4D sound thanks to Burmeister's 30-speaker audio setup in the S-Class. You could almost be at a concert in the back of your car. Damn, we've really come far in 20 years.

MBUX Assistant is another new feature. This is an intelligent system which reacts to the occupants of the car and works for their pleasure. An example includes the driver leaning over into the glovebox at night. What happens? The passenger roof light will automatically activate to give the driver improved vision. Also, if a passenger attempts to exit the vehicle while an oncoming vehicle approaches, the lighting will pulse red as a warning to remain inside. This is really clever stuff and, as a 19 year old, I wasn't expecting this sort of stuff when I was travelling around in my father's Fiat 126p in my youth.

Things like rear-steering, a 48-volt controlled air suspension which (with optional E-Body Active Control) will raise the side of the car by 80mm before a side-on collision, reducing the impact and forcing the energy into the car's floor. We've seen this on the A8 for a while now, but this new Mercedes system literally shoots up. Like, watch a video on it. It's incredible. By 2022, the S-Class will allegedly be able to drive autonomously on motorways and in traffic jams. The car will respond to traffic and possible collisions by itself. There'll also be a summonign function at close distances so that you don't have to labour the 100 or so yards to your car's parking spot. Handy if your office doesn't have a covered car park in the wet. Amazing stuff, Mercedes.

Finally, there's the digital headlights. Three powerful LEDs and (wait for it) 1.3 million tiny mirros project light directly where it's necessary. It can shine light directly at pedestrains to ensure you've noticed them and can also display warning sympols on the road ahead. When going up a hill, they'll automatically lower so that you don't dazzle drivers coming the other way. Incredible.

ENGINES

Plug-in hybrid will be available. Hopefully not as expensive as the hybrid on the outgoing model. Then again, it's an S-Class.

Plug-in hybrid will be available. Hopefully not as expensive as the hybrid on the outgoing model. Then again, it's an S-Class.

At launch, the car will be available with four six-cylinder engines. They'll all be 3.0-litre units and come as standard with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, the wonderful Mercedes G Tronic. Petrol power will come in the form of the S450 with 367HP. A more powerful S500 will arrive with 435HP. The 0-60mph time stands at 5.1 seconds and 4.9 seconds for these models. Both come as standard with 4-Matic four-wheel drive and a mild-hybrid system which uses a 22HP electric motor which assists in economy and hard acceleration. The third six-cylinder is a diesel. This will come on the S350d and pack 286HP. It can be had with either rear-wheel drive or the 4-Matic system. The 4-Matic model completes the sprint to 60mph in around 6 seconds. A more powerful S400d will also be available with standard 4-Matic and a 330HP punch. Around 5 seconds to 60mph. A V8 model will arrive. A plug-in hybrid with a 60 mile electric range will also arrive in 2021. Expect an S63 sooner rather than later, too.

PRICE

No pricing information has been sent out yet. However, given the design, technology and safety revolutions, expect this thing to start at around £80,000. That's for the 'base' model S-Class cars. If you want more power, more expensive options and all of the goodies, I'd say it's fair to expect £100,000 and much more for a new S-Class. The AMG will near £200,000 with options, that's for sure.

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