Automotive

Published on September 3rd, 2020 | by Joshua Chin

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Next-Gen Mercedes Benz S-Class Unveiled

The latest flagship Mercedes aims to reclaim its throne as the best car in the world. 

After many months of spy shots and rumours, Mercedes-Benz today has finally unveiled the latest generation of its S-Class flagship luxury sedan. The model that has come to define the brand has finally received its long awaited refresh. 

Like the S-Classes of old, the latest iteration of this German luxobarge is stuffed full of technology. However, lets begin with what everyone is talking about, and that would be the looks of this newest luxury limousine. 

Opinions on the looks have been divisive to say the least, with debates beginning ever since spy shots of this S-Class began testing some months ago. Some have commented that this latest S-Class is in fact just an enlarged CLA, especially at the rear with those triangular rear lights. A larger majority however seem to mellow to the looks of this new S-Class especially after seeing it in the flesh now that it is launched. 

The large front grille still attracts some flack, but in general words like elegant, classy and opulent have been used by commentators in describing the exterior design of this latest iteration of Mercedes’ flagship sedan. 

Another area which has attracted debate would be the interior of this most stately of sedans. While still retaining its stately opulence with plenty of leather everywhere in this long cabin, the 5 screens available in the S-Class has ruffled the feathers of some critics. Especially the giant central portrait touchscreen that moves the S-Class away from its traditional interior layout towards a more screen-oriented design. 

That being said, no one is disputing the fact that the Mercedes S-Class still remains the leader in bringing to the automotive world revolutionary technology, and this latest iteration continues on the tradition of introducing a boat-load of new tech. For which the star feature this time is the debut of the second generation Mercedes Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system. 

A 3D digital drivers display and an augmented reality (AR) heads up display is just the tip of the technological iceberg. To keep occupants comfortable and relaxed in the luxury limousine, the S-Class not only features up to 19 motors in the front seats that come with the obligatory 10 massage programs, but also comes integrated with what Mercedes terms an ‘Energizing Comfort’ program that essentially turns this limo into a mobile retreat. 

Which brings us neatly on to the driving experience of the new S-Class. Undoubtably, with the new 48 V E-Active body control system working in tandem with the Airmatic air suspension, the ride quality of this new S-Class will probably be second to none. However, this luxury limo would probably also be pretty agile and manoeuvrable when the situation demands it, thanks in part to the optional rear wheel steering functionality which will be able to rotate the rear wheels up to 10º, hence reducing the turning radius of this long limo to just less than 10.9 metres. 

That being said, driving the S-Class might soon also be a thing of the past due to the S-Class’ Drive Pilot autonomous driving feature. Coming along with the standard self-parking feature of Park Pilot, Drive Pilot allows the new S-Class to essentially drive and steer itself at speeds of up to 60 km/h. Perfect for sitting back and relaxing while stuck in a traffic jam. 

As for the powertrain options, Mercedes thus far have only announced a brace of six-cylinder petrol and diesel options, with the option for a mild-hybrid V8 engine finding its way under the hood in the near future. To the more environmentally conscious S-Class owner, you’ll be glad to hear too that there will be a plug-in hybrid with an all electric range of up to 100 km available in 2021. 

No word yet on the pricing of this latest Mercedes Benz flagship. Safe to say though it will probably arrive in Malaysia sometime next year. So to the datuks and datins, your new ride awaits. 

More information can be found in the press release below: 

The S-Class stands for the fascination of Mercedes-Benz: legendary and traditional engineering expertise defines the luxury segment in the automobile industry. The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class can be experienced with all the senses – seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling – while offering numerous innovations in the areas of driver assistance, protection and interaction. Mercedes-Benz is shaping the next generation of individual mobility for our times with innovations that place the focus on people. The new S-Class uses digitisation for a car that responds empathetically to the needs and wishes of its driver and passengers.

Modern luxury reaches a new level with the interior of the S-Class. The designers have created a feel-good ambience with lounge character marked by elegance, high quality and airiness. The dashboard with its new architecture, modern surface design and ergonomic display arrangement is a noteworthy highlight. But the feel-good aspect goes even further: With high ride quality and low noise levels as well as an extensive range of ENERGIZING Comfort programs, the S-Class looks after the well-being of its passengers.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class has become more intelligent in many areas, including the driving experience, which is taken to the next level. Digital innovations such as in MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) are joined by new developments that increase driving enjoyment while making driving even safer: among them are rear-axle steering with a large steering angle and safety innovations such as the rear airbag. As a new function of PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side, the active E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension can raise the vehicle body (on both sides) just before an impending side impact. Following further systematic developments, the driving assistance systems take another step towards autonomous driving. Thanks to improved environmental sensors, for example, the parking systems provide the driver increased support when maneuvering at low speed. The integration into MBUX further enhances this as the level of visualization enters a whole new dimension.

MBUX: a new dimension in personalization and interaction

No other innovation in recent years has so radically changed the operation of a Mercedes-Benz as MBUX (Mercedes- Benz User Experience) and now the second generation of MBUX makes its debut in the new S-Class. The vehicle interior is even more digital and intelligent, as both the hardware and software have made great strides: brilliant displays on up to five large screens, in part with OLED technology, make the control of vehicle and comfort functions even easier. The possibilities for personalization and intuitive operation have become far more extensive. This certainly applies in the rear, but also for the driver: For example, for the first time the new 3D driver display allows a spatial view at the touch of a button. Creating a real three-dimensional effect is achieved without having to wear 3D glasses.

The HUD provides augmented reality (AR) content. When navigating, for example, animated turn-off arrows (“fishbones”) are virtually and precisely projected onto the road lane. For the assistance functions, information from i.e. Active Distance Assist is shown. The image appears virtually at a distance of 32 feet, which corresponds with the display area to a monitor with a 77-inch diagonal screen.

The voice assistant “Hey Mercedes” is even more advanced and dialogue-capable through activation of online services in the Mercedes me App. Moreover, certain actions can be performed even without the activation keyword “Hey Mercedes”. These include accepting a telephone call. “Hey Mercedes” now also explains vehicle functions and answers general knowledge questions. In the S-Class the voice assistant can also be controlled from the rear seats.

Dimensional concept and interior design: generous ambience with a lounge-like feeling

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been a place for comfortable travel and relaxed working. With the new generation, the interior has fully evolved into a “third place”, a refuge between the home and workplace. Nearly all comfort-related dimensions of the S-Class have been improved in the front as well as on the rear seats. The sense of space is accordingly generous.

The desired harmony between digital and analog luxury results in a revolutionary interior design, including inspiration from interior architecture and yacht design. The sculptured look of the dashboard, center console and armrests appears to float above an expansive interior landscape. The reduction in the number of controls also underscores the minimalist appearance of the interior, paired with a fine divide between the upper section of the dashboard and the large trim element structures to create horizontal breadth.

Alongside the potential for up to five screens, the highlights include the large areas of trim. These flow around the passengers and are a further systematic development of the wrap-around effect. One particularly attractive version of the trim is an open-pore wood veneer, shot through with inlays of real aluminum that follow the contours. New design elements include the flat, four-square center vents with horizontal nacelles. Two slim, vertical side vents on each side round off the ends of the dashboard.

The driver display and media display offer a comprehensive aesthetic experience. Adding to this, the appearance of the screens can be individualized with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service)

Seats: Plenty of high-tech for outstanding long-distance comfort

The seats invite the occupants to sit down and relax. The flowing, three-dimensional layer design theme gives an impression of lightness. While the various finishes give the seats different characters. For example, the progressive diamond pattern of nappa leather and Exclusive nappa leather provides a more classical and expressive appearance.

Up to 19 motors in the front seats make for comfortable seating – a number that indicates the complexity of the technology installed in the seats. The seats go beyond comfort as they also play a major part where safety is concerned.

And of course when it comes to luxurious wellbeing: all the seats available for the S-Class carry the seal of approval by the Healthy Seating campaign.

Ten different massage programs are available in the new S-Class. These use the vibration motors, and can enhance the effect of a relaxing massage with added warmth on the hot-stone principle. To create this, the seat heating is combined with the inflatable air chambers in the active multicontour seats. The air chambers are now closer to the seat surface, and are therefore even easier to control and feel.

The Executive Line allows for multiple rear seat variations, permitting customers to configure the rear of the S-Class as a working or rest area. One new feature is the heatable additional cushion for the head restraint, which is available for the two electrically adjustable rear seats. The adjustment range and angle of the front passenger seat in the chauffeur configuration and the reclining seat behind it have been improved as well.

The ENERGIZING COMFORT programs: Comfortable travel while staying healthy

At the touch of a button or by voice command, the holistic “Fit & Healthy” approach of ENERGIZING COMFORT provides a tangible experience of the different comfort systems in the S-Class, and features programs that bundle them into worlds of experience. At the same time, the system creates a suitable atmosphere in the interior – for example, a driver can select invigorating in the event of monotonous stretches of road, or relaxing if they are experiencing elevated stress levels. The ENERGIZING COACH can even suggests an appropriate vitalization or wellness program based on vehicle and trip data. It also factors in information about sleep quality and stress level into its intelligent algorithm if the driver has a compatible wearable device.

Mercedes-Benz has fundamentally improved ENERGIZING comfort control in the new S-Class with innovations such as a massage based on vibrating motors in the seat cushion and integrated resonance transmission through the optional Burmester® high-end 4D surround sound system, which makes bass tones tangible. Direct reproduction of the sound resonance in the seats adds another level to the three-dimensional listening experience – 4D sound inspired by the acoustic massage. The perceived intensity of the sound can be individually adjusted for each seat. The music becomes even more evocative thanks to this tangible component. Two resonators are integrated into the backrest of each seat for this purpose.

Driver assistance systems: even more support for the drive

In the new S-Class, Mercedes-Benz takes another step closer to its vision of accident-free driving. The driver is supported by numerous new or extended driving assistance systems. As a result, the driver experiences a reduced workload in day-to-day situations, and is able to drive comfortably and safely. When a dangerous situation is detected, the assistance systems are able to respond to impending collisions as the situation demands. The operating principle of the systems is made apparent through a new display concept in the driver display.

Thanks to improved environmental sensors, the parking systems provide the driver increased support when maneuvering at low speed. Operation is faster and more intuitive thanks to integration into MBUX. The optional rear-axle steering is integrated into the parking assistants, with the calculation of trajectories adapted accordingly. Emergency braking functions also serves to protect other road users.

Suspension systems: more maneuverable and dynamic with rear-axle steering

Innovative suspension systems ensure an impressive travel experience in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Rear-axle steering (optional) with a steering angle of up to 10° improves maneuverability on narrow city streets to the level of a compact car. For the S-Class with a long wheelbase and all-wheel drive, the turning circle is reduced by 6.2 feet to under 35.8 feet.

The fully active E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension on a 48 V basis offers a unique synthesis of comfort and agility, plus additional protection in the event of a lateral collision. The AIRMATIC air suspension with continuously adjustable damping ADS+ comes standardly equipped. Close networking between all the suspension and control systems ensures maximum stability and safety. Mercedes-Benz has now added a new function of PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side, when equipped with E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL, to its measures in the pre-accident phase: When a side impact threatens, the vehicle body can be raised by up to 3 inches by the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension within a few tenths of a second. This reduces the loads on the door structures, as the door sill can absorb more of the impact thanks to its higher position. As a result, deformation of the passenger cell and the loads acting on the occupants can be reduced. Radar sensors are used to recognize a potential side crash.

Exterior design: perfect proportions for a classical appearance

With a short front overhang, a long wheelbase and a balanced rear overhang, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is designed as a classical sedan with perfect proportions. The wide track and flush-mounted wheels with modern designs give the vehicle a muscular look. The character lines have been greatly reduced along the sides with cleverly contoured surfaces and a sculptured look to create special light effects. The front section is also notable with its high-status radiator grille.

The headlamps characterize the front of the car. With the three-point daytime driving light signature that is typical of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, now flatter and slightly smaller overall. The seamless door handles (standard) are a completely new development. They are electrically extended when the driver approaches, or the outer surface of the door handle is touched. Keyless access is provided by KEYLESS-GO.

The dynamic appearance of the car is continued at the rear. Thanks to precisely designed, highly detailed interior features and certain animated functions, the rear lights contribute to the impression of high quality, making the new S- Class unmistakable in both their day and night design.

Powertrain: more electrification, more efficiency

Six-cylinder in-line petrol and diesel engines in various output classes are the first engine variants for the new S-Class.

A V8 engine with an integrated starter-generator (ISG) and 48-volt onboard electrical system will be available soon after. A plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of around 100 kilometres will follow in 2021.

Light and comfortable travel

Innovative suspension systems ensure an impressive travel experience in the new S-Class. Rear-axle steering with a steering angle of up to 10° improves manoeuvrability in urban areas. The optional, fully active E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension on a 48 V basis offers a unique synthesis of comfort and agility, plus additional protection in the event of a lateral collision. The AIRMATIC air suspension with continuously adjustable damping ADS+ is standard equipment. Close networking between all the suspension and control systems ensures maximum stability and safety. Redundant steering and braking systems are ready for conditionally automated driving acc. to SAE Level 3.

The aim of the developers was to exceed the high level of suspension and ride comfort of the preceding series, while achieving a very high level of vehicle dynamics. E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL (see separate chapter) replaces the previous MAGIC BODY CONTROL.

At the front the new S-Class has the well-proven four-link suspension. With the exception of the wheel bearings, all the wheel location components are of forged aluminium. The multi-link independent rear suspension has been completely redeveloped to accommodate rear-axle steering. To this end, the kinematics and elastokinematics were adapted, and the track rod at the lower steering arm level was moved from the front to the rear. The rear axle carrier is of welded sheet aluminium, and weighs no more than before thanks to computer-assisted structural improvements and despite greater strength. A newly developed metal/plastic hybrid cross-bar is bolted into this open-fronted section, and has significant weight advantages over the cast aluminium cross-bar of the preceding model. The suspension subframe carriers and the elastomer bearings of the rear axle struts were redeveloped in extensive simulations and driving trials, so as to improve them with respect to NVH and handling characteristics.

Constant level

The standard-fit AIRMATIC air suspension responds particularly sensitively. It combines air suspension bellows with adaptive ADS+ dampers whose characteristics can be fully automatically varied at each individual wheel, in both the compression and rebound stages. While driving, a sophisticated sensor system and algorithms set the dampers according to the quality of the road to ensure that, for example, driving over a bump with just one wheel is not transmitted to the entire axle and the interior. At the front axle the springs and dampers are housed in one suspension strut. This level control is part of AIRMATIC. It keeps the ground clearance constant irrespective of the vehicle load, but also makes changes. By way of example, in COMFORT mode the vehicle body is lowered by 10 mm at high speeds above 120 km/h and another 10 mm at over 160 km/h to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase driving stability. In SPORT driving mode the body is always 10 mm lower, and in SPORT+ 17 mm. At up to 60 km/h, the body can be raised by 30 mm at the touch of a button.

As manoeuvrable as a compact car: both axles can do the steering

The aim of the engineers at Mercedes-Benz was to make the new S-Class as manoeuvrable as a compact car. The impressive driving function has been realised using rear-axle steering that allows large steering angles of up to 10° and is integrated into the dynamic control systems of the steering, brakes and suspension (more about the rear-axle steering in the next chapter). The S-Class has an electro-mechanical direct steering system at the front. The suspension settings of the DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes allow individual adaptation of the assistance characteristics. Whatever the vehicle weight, tyre size and friction, an innovative control concept ensures consistent and comfortable steering feedback. The steering is also the central actuator for implementing the movement trajectory from numerous driving assistance functions and handling safety systems. In models equipped with the optional rear-axle steering, the front axle has a steering variant with an approx. 15% more direct steering ratio which requires considerably less steering movement in conjunction with the rear-axle steering.

DYNAMIC SELECT: The S-Class drives as the driver wants it to

The driver can individually modify the characteristics of the powertrain, ESP®, suspension and steering. The selection is made using a control at the lower end of the central display. The default setting is COMFORT mode. Different characteristics are firmly assigned to each system. The driver has the choice of selecting fixed driving modes or individually combining sub-modes. The selection is acknowledged by acoustic and visual feedback. The desired driving mode is shown as the status and depicted in the central display.

The CURVE mode is also available in combination with E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL. Plug-in hybrid models have the BATTERY LEVEL and ELECTRIC driving modes.

In combination with the DRIVE PILOT: steering for conditionally automated driving

It is expected that from the second half of 2021, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class will be able to drive in conditionally automated mode at up to 60 km/h with the new DRIVE PILOT where traffic density is high or in tailbacks on suitable motorway sections. The technology for this includes fail-safe steering which executes the relevant actuation and steering commands of the intelligent track guidance system with the greatest precision. Embedded in a twin-channel architecture, this steering relies on a multiple back-up energy supply via independent bus-systems with the vehicle components involved. The front and rear axle have twice the number of rpm sensors.

All the major electronic and electro-mechanical components, assemblies and sensors are redundant in nature. In the event of a channel failure, the redundant component continues the function. The electric motor consists of four sub-motors, so that at least 50% of the maximum output is available at any time. This ensures that during conditionally automated driving, the desired trajectory can be followed by the front axle steering in any situation.

An electric brake booster is used for models with additional equipment for conditionally automated driving, or e.g. the optional Remote Parking Assist or the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT. To reinforce the driver’s braking intention, this does not use vacuum pressure but an electric motor with a reduction gear. During conditionally automated driving or parking manoeuvres, the electric brake booster acts as a redundant pressure generator for the braking system and can bring the vehicle to a safe stop even if the hydraulic unit fails.

Modern luxury in its most desirable form

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is seen as a trendsetter in its segment. Together with its model variants, the luxury saloon is a point of reference and an example for the automobile industry. The new generation continues this tradition. The interplay between emotion and intelligence becomes tangible, and arouses desire for the brand and for the S-Class itself. Innovation in combination with the latest technology and traditional craftsmanship make the vehicle unique.

With a short front overhang, a long wheelbase and a balanced rear overhang, the S-Class is designed as a classical saloon with perfect proportions. Other unmistakable exterior features include the stretched bonnet, the upright front end with the mounted star, the long passenger cell and the flowing C-pillar with its sculptured shoulder. The claim of the S-Class to high status is indicated by the excellent prestige measurement, i.e. the distance from the front axle to the windscreen. The wide track and flush-mounted wheels with modern designs give the vehicle a muscular look.

The so-called character lines have been greatly reduced along the sides. Cleverly contoured surfaces with a sculptured look create special light effects. At the same time they embody the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of sensual purity. Chrome elements stylishly positioned by the designers – e.g. as a decorative lower strip on the side sills – further embellish the S-Class and accentuate its length.

The front section impresses with its high-status radiator grille. The numerous sensors and cameras of the assistance systems are attractively and symmetrically integrated into the design, and deliberately accentuated as high-tech elements.

The headlamps characterise the front aspect of the car. They have the three-point daytime driving light signature that is typical of the S-Class, but this is flatter and somewhat smaller overall. The new light system DIGITAL LIGHT (see separate chapter) is available as an optional alternative to the standard MULTIBEAM LED headlamps. This headlamp has a distinctive look, and is distinguished by e.g. the blue light of its floor facing.

Flush-fitted door handles (optional) and sophisticated wheel designs (size 18 to 21 inches) accentuate the side aspect. The dynamic appearance of the car is continued at the rear. Details such as the two visible exhaust tailpipes contribute to an unmistakable appearance that is typical of a Mercedes-Benz. They are accompanied by the surprising design of the boot lid in combination with the progressive, two-section rear lights. The chrome strip at the upper edge of the rear lights accentuate the width of the rear.

Thanks to precisely designed, highly detailed interior features and certain animated functions, the rear lights contribute to the impression of high quality. They make the new S-Class unmistakable in both their day and night design.

Digital-analogue revolution in the interior

Modern luxury attains the next level in the interior of the S-Class. The designers have created a feel-good ambience with lounge character marked by elegance, high quality and lightness. The dashboard with its new architecture, modern surface design and ergonomic display arrangement is a particular highlight. The aim and ambition of the Mercedes-Benz interior designers was to harmonise digital and analogue luxury in the vehicle interior.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been a place for comfortable travel and relaxed working. With the new generation, the interior has fully evolved into a “third place”, a refuge between home and workplace. Nearly all comfort-related dimensions of both variants, the S-Class with short and long wheelbase, have been improved in the front as well as on the rear seats. The sense of space is accordingly generous.

The desired harmony between digital and analogue luxury results in a revolutionary interior design, including associations with interior architecture and yacht design elements. The sculptured look of the dashboard, centre console and armrests appears to float above an expansive interior landscape. The systematic reduction in the number of controls underscores the minimalist appearance of the interior. A fine divide between the upper section of the dashboard and the large trim element structures the area and creates horizontal breadth. This interface is also where the active ambient lighting is located.

In addition to the up to five screens, highlights include the large trim elements in the dashboard and in the rear (with the First Class rear suite). These flow around the passengers and are a systematic further development of the wrap-around effect. One particularly attractive version of the trim is an open-pored wood veneer shot through with inlays of real aluminium that follow the contours. The “Novum” trim variant consists of a mixed metallic weave which accentuates the elegant, sporty styling.

New design elements include the flat, four-square centre vents with horizontal nacelles. Two slim, vertical side vents on each side round off the ends of the dashboard. The air volume is controlled by keys with LED displays. The avantgarde geometry of the vents and their decorative nature accentuate the modern look.

The seats (see separate chapter for features and configuration) invite the occupants to sit down and relax. The flowing, three-dimensional layer design theme gives an impression of lightness. Different finishes give the seats different characters. For example, the flowing longitudinal piping of Lugano leather lends them a noble, avantgarde look, while the progressive diamond pattern of nappa leather and Exclusive nappa leather is more classical and expressive.

Mercedes-Benz introduced electric seat adjustment in 1980. Since then, many vehicle generations have featured the brand’s hallmark seat adjustment switch in the form of a stylised seat in the door. This control has been completely redesigned for the new S-Class. Visible joints have been reduced by combining the trim with the seat controls. The geometry and surround lighting of the control panel make the seat adjustment control appear to float in the door panel.

The newly developed pressure sensors for seat adjustment open up new design possibilities. Thanks to the practically fixed control buttons, minimal gaps between the individual controls can be realised. This also means that very small apertures in the black panel trim are possible. This allows a slim, filigree, floating design of the control buttons. The pressure sensors also allow a continuous coupling of operating pressure and speed.

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About the Author

Amateur automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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