The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the best-selling full-size luxury sedan by a wide margin, and the brand will not be ceding any ground. To ensure its domination, Mercedes is giving the S-Class a major rework to make it more stylish and high-tech than ever.
Code-named W223, the next S-Class will be less conservative and more elegant in design. When the current generation made its debut in the midst of the Great Recession, Mercedes had made the deliberate choice to go low-key. Now, the brand is making up for lost time with taut, elegant surfacing, better proportions thanks to a lengthened dash-to-axle ratio, and a more rakish C-pillar. Leading the design charge will be a new grille flanked by adaptive LED headlights with far more capability to bend light than U.S. regulations currently allow.
Inside, Mercedes will respond to the Tesla effect with a pair of massive screens, one horizontal in front of the driver (as in the current model) and a Tesla-sized vertical screen in the center of the dramatic dash. The driving experience will be enhanced with SAE Level 3 semi-autonomous technology.
Powertrains will include rear and all-wheel drive, motivated by mild hybrid gasoline engines and plug-in hybrids with the ability to drive on pure electricity for some distance. We expect to see Mercedes’ recently developed 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with 48-volt mild hybrid power under the hood, as well as the familiar AMG-developed 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, likewise enhanced with 48-volt tech. High-performance AMG models are expected to follow shortly after the standard car, as will Maybach ultra-luxury limousines.
The new S-Class has been in the works for years, so the brand will try to keep its launch target later this year—but it might get pushed into 2021 depending on the economy. Whenever it arrives, we expect it to start around $95,000.