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Large saloons like the Mercedes-Benz S-class might seem to be falling out of favor against the onslaught of large SUVs, but big saloons still have one very important job to do for the big German three – to be technical flagships, a job of particular importance to any all-new S-class. And so, with body-on prototypes now completing on-road testing, the next generation of Mercedes S-class is coming into focus, and so too Merc’s future tech.
What’s immediately clear is that the S-class appears to be holding on to the slatted grille that has been slowly disappearing from other Mercedes-Benz models in favor of the sportier single-bar grille. So too the shape appears to resemble the classic upright tapered look, rather than the downturned, or ‘Panamerica’ grille – all signs that the new S-class will maintain its more stately stature. Flanking the grille are slimmer LED headlights that look to include a stronger lighting signature than the current model’s triple stripe.
The overall shape is familiar though, with an upright cabin, free of sharp creases or aggressive shapes. The window line actually looks even more upright than the current generation’s, pointing towards an emphasis on rear-seat headroom. The odd box-like extensions where the door handles might otherwise indicate the likely application of retractable door handles, much like those fitted to the all-new Porsche 911, reducing drag and cleaning up the side profile.
The rear end will more closely follow those of other Mercedes-Benz cars in the current range, with a move to horizontal lighting units that flow into the bootlid for the first time in the model’s near 50-year history. But considering that this change in lighting orientation is probably going to be the biggest aesthetic difference for this all-new model, the overall design will doubtless be more of a gentle evolution.
However, expect the interior to be completely new, with an emphasis on digitalization and connectivity. Insiders have revealed that Mercedes will ditch the current widescreen layout that first debuted on the current S-class in favor of a vast portrait touchscreen flowing up from the center console and on to the dash. As a result, the S-class will introduce not only a new digital interface but also a new dash architecture and aesthetic, which should, much as it did before, spread into lesser future models such as the next-generation E-class and all of its derivatives.
The digital dial pack will now sit separately to the main screen behind the steering wheel, where it will complement a new head-up display. Tech derived from the A-class’s new MBUX infotainment system will also apply, including the natty augmented reality feature that could be extended even further in this new generation S-class.