2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class betters the “world’s best car”
Mercedes-Benz is calling their S-Class the “world’s best car,” which is quite the self-awarded title. Though the tag is a debatable one, there is no second opinion on the fact that the S-Class has been a leader in the full-size luxury sedan segment since forever (and we owned one!). And now, Mercedes-Benz improves their so-called “best car” even further, introducing the new W223 generation. Just like every S-Class before it, the new 2021 S-Class is a massive leap ahead of the outgoing one.
Typically, Mercedes debuts a completely new design language with each S-Class generation, which then trickles down into the rest of the range. This time though, they have flipped the approach around. The 2021 Mercedes Benz S-Class’ design has grown from that of the recently launched E-Class facelift, with some cues dating back to the redesigned CLS-Class and A-Class from 2018. Some fans may be a little frowny at that, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the new S-Class is still reasonably handsome to look at. The design feels less stately and more generic than the current S-Class, but that’s probably irrelevant to well-heeled buyers who simply order the flagship Mercedes over the phone (we’ve seen that happen).
The front fascia looks a bit sleeker than the rounded fascia of the current model. Mercedes Benz has put in a lot of attention into the aerodynamics of the S-Class, so much that they decided to keep the door handles flush with the body. It elegantly extends out of the body to allow access to the occupants. This has helped the S-Class cut down its drag co-efficient to 0.22d, making it one of the most aerodynamic cars in the world. There are 18-inch to 21-inch wheel options. The rear flaunts a new set of horizontal LED tail lamps, breaking the 2-decade long tradition of vertical tail lamps on S-Classes since the W220 S-Class that debuted in 1999. Overall, the S-Class does look like a grown-up E-Class, but Mercedes Benz has given it enough bling and zing to stand out as the brand’s flagship.
Open the door and that is where the S-Class really shines its aura. For starters, there is tons of space, and rear passengers gets an extra 51 mm of wheelbase in the long version which will probably be standard in the Middle East. The interior is worlds apart from what the current model offers yet it keeps a minimalistic appeal. The materials lining the cabin are all top-notch, while the 263 LED ambient light system helps up the ante even further.
A colossal 12.8-inch LED screen sits right at the centre to control almost all functions of the car. A 12.3-inch screen acts as the 3D digital instrument display and that is not where the screens end. There are three more screens at the back, two on the front seatbacks, and a removable tablet mounted on the centre console at the rear. The MBUX system by Mercedes-Benz is in its most advanced form here. It emphasises the usage of voice commands, both from the front and rear passengers. The voice recognition system can detect commands in 27 languages and goes even further than just controlling the functions of the car. The passengers can control the smart devices at their homes while sitting in the new S-Class. In China, the MBUX system can even be used to order food or book movie tickets. Additionally, any passenger can share a media file with another passenger using a drag-drop function, which also works for calls. It also utilises augmented reality to overlay navigation directions and safety warnings on the HUD.
There are up to 18 motors in each seat to control the adjustment, ventilation and massaging functions. The 31-speaker Burmester 4D surround sound system even gets speakers inside the seat for maximum involvement. The new S-Class identifies and authenticates the driver via facial recognition or fingerprint sensor and sets his/her preferences automatically. An Interior Assist function uses cameras to track the occupants and triggers intelligent responses to their actions. For example, the 2021 S-Class will lower the rear sunblind automatically if the driver turns around and looks towards the rear of the car.
The MBUX system and Interior Assist function are just the tips of the tech iceberg the 2021 Mercedes Benz S-Class is. The S-Class packs level 3 autonomous driving capability, allowing it to take control while on a highway. Mercedes Benz also claims that the new S-Class is preoccupied with all the requisites needed to achieve Level 4 autonomous capability which completely eliminates the driver. Though the rules and regulations across the world do not support this yet, if their claim is true, the 2021 S-Class is well prepared for the arrival of the future.
Mercedes Benz S-Class has been the pioneer for many safety features. This time is no different. The new S-Class debuts a rear-seat airbag system that deploys out of the front seatback to provide maximum protection to the rear passengers. There is also a central airbag between the driver and front passenger to avoid collision between them.
There is an optional fully active E-ACTIVE Body Control suspension system that lifts the S-Class if it detects an oncoming side collision, exposing the stronger floor to the crash rather than the vulnerable passenger compartment. It also helps the S-Class strike the perfect balance between comfort and handling. The AIRMATIC air suspension of the 2021 S-Class with continuously adjustable damping is offered as standard. The 2021 S-Class also adds optional rear-wheel-steering that cuts down on the turning circle diameter by 2 metres, allowing the driver to manoeuvre the long sedan easily. It also helps to gain better handling at higher speeds.
Powering the 2021 Mercedes Benz S-Class are a choice of four 3.0-litre straight-six engines, all mated to a 9-speed automatic gearbox. In the petrol department, there is an S 450 with 367 hp and a more powerful S 500 with 435 hp. Both models are offered only with all-wheel drive. The diesel options include a 286 hp S 350D and an S 400D with 330 hp. The S 350D is offered in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive while the S 400D is all-wheel-drive only. A new V8 model with an integrated starter generator will come soon. Mercedes Benz also plans to add a plug-in hybrid with an electric-only range of up to 100 km in 2021. A completely electric variant, dubbed EQS, will arrive later with a range of 700 kms. And of course, the ballistic S63 AMG will not take long. And then there will be the even more plush Maybach model (which we’ve seen in prototype form testing around Dubai). This time though, there will not be coupe or cabriolet versions of the S-Class as Mercedes is apparently looking to pare down their range.
The 2021 Mercedes Benz S-Class is a car that sets the benchmark for all other luxury cars, with tech that trickles down to more plebeian cars over time. The new generation of the flagship Mercedes sedan seems to live up to this legacy. Prices for the new S-Class are not out yet but expect it to cost a healthy premium over the outgoing model once it hits showroom floors.
For UAE prices and specs, keep track of the Mercedes-Benz buyer guide.