STUTTGART, GERMANY - The S-Class has always been the innovation leader in the Mercedes-Benz stable, pioneering technologies that would eventually filter down to the smaller vehicles in the range, and so it is no surprise that the all-new version of this grand sedan is the most intelligent and digitised Benz ever.
It’s fitting that the second-generation of the company’s MBUX infotainment system debuts in the new S-Class, with 50 percent more computing power than before, and it takes the user experience to the next level, using cameras in the overhead control panel to monitor things like hand movements and body language. It also learns algorithms to anticipate the wishes and intentions of the car’s occupants. Look over your shoulder, for instance, and the system will automatically open the sunblind.
The cabin of the new S-Class has up to five screens, some with OLED technology and there’s a truly advanced head-up display system that can display augmented reality content, even projecting animated turn-off arrows onto the road ahead for navigation purposes.
But if you think that’s clever, consider that the new ‘digital’ headlights can project marking aids or warning symbols onto the road ahead. These lights incorporate three powerful LEDs, with light being refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors.
Yet you might just be lucky enough to be sitting in the back, where you’ll get to enjoy the significantly enhanced Energizing Comfort control system, which offers innovations such as in-depth massage. Occupants can choose from 10 different massage programmes in the new S-Class.
But can it drive itself?
Mercedes-Benz expects that from the second half of 2020, the Drive Pilot system will allow “conditionally automated” driving in situations where traffic density is high or on suitable highway sections in Germany.
What engines to expect
The new S-Class will initially launch with a range of 3-litre six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, while a V8 engine with integrated starter generator and a 48-volt onboard electrical system will follow shortly thereafter. Mercedes-Benz is also planning to introduce a plug-in hybrid model in 2021, which will offer a claimed electric-only range of around 100km.
The six-cylinder petrol engines also boast EQ boost mild hybrid technology, with the S450 4Matic producing 270kW and 500Nm (with an additional 16kW and 250Nm available in short spurts), while the S500 is good for 320kW and 520Nm (plus the 16kW/250Nm EQ boost).
On the diesel front, buyers can choose between three options, with outputs ranging from 210kW to 243kW, and up to 700Nm on offer.
As easy to park as an A-Class?
Given the size of this vehicle it’s understandable that some drivers might feel a bit apprehensive about the prospect of manoeuvring it in urban conditions, but Mercedes claims that S-Class models equipped with the optional rear-axle steering system are as manoeuvrable as a compact car. For the record, this option reduces the turning circle by a whole two metres.
Some reassuring safety innovations
Not only does the new S-Class have a glut of active driver assistance features that aim to prevent an accident in the first place, but Mercedes-Benz has also upped the passive safety game with innovations like optional rear-seat airbags that are said to considerably reduce the loads acting on the head and neck area of occupants in the rear seats, assuming that they are wearing their seatbelts.
Watch this space for more details on the South Africa bound models closer to launch.