2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- Spring 2021
What to expect
- High levels of comfort and refinement
- An abundance of the latest technology features
- Bold interior design
- Part of the seventh S-Class generation introduced for 2021
What is the S-Class?
The S-Class is Mercedes-Benz's flagship vehicle and the pinnacle of the company's capabilities in luxury, comfort and technology. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been completely redesigned and looks to continue the tradition of innovation and elegance that has long defined this iconic sedan.
Even as its predecessor passes the torch to the next generation, it remains an Edmunds Top Rated pick against newer rivals that include the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera. Among these impressive large luxury sedans, the new 2021 S-Class won't be able to rest on its laurels.
What's under the S-Class' hood?
Initially, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class will offer two engine choices, both paired with a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. The S 500 4Matic is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that produces 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Stepping up to the S 580 4Matic gets you a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 good for 496 hp and 516 lb-ft.
Both engines are augmented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system Mercedes calls EQ Boost. It consists of an electric motor that acts as a starter-generator and provides an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft when needed. We fully expect more engine options to come later, including higher-performance AMG variants, a silky smooth Maybach powerplant and perhaps some more eco-friendly hybrids too.
The 48-volt system also powers the optional E-Active Body Control suspension system. In Comfort mode, it activates the Road Surface Scan feature, which uses stereo cameras to detect imperfections in the road surface and adjusts the suspension to glide over them with uncanny ease. In Curve mode, the vehicle leans into turns, much like a motorcycle. It's initially a strange sensation from behind the wheel, but passengers will probably notice a distinct lack of body roll and jostling.
Despite the S-Class' large footprint, it should be surprisingly maneuverable. A new rear-wheel steering system can turn the rear wheels up to 10 degrees opposite the fronts. This reduces the big sedan's turning circle, allowing it to turn as sharply as the compact A-Class sedan.
How's the S-Class' interior?
The new S-Class interior represents a significant shift from previous models. The broad dashboard top gives the impression that it starts at the hood before gracefully cascading down to a center console dominated by a large vertical touchscreen. Mercedes eliminated 27 switches and buttons from the last generation S-Class, leaving a sleek and modern cockpit, but one that may cause more distractions if you prefer using the touchscreen for basic audio and climate control functions.
The virtual instrument panel looks similar to other displays in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, but it features a visually stunning 3D effect. To the driver's eyes, it looks as though the gauges are floating upright, while the information panel between them is set farther back or flat while in map mode. It may not be all that useful, but it certainly turns up the wow factor.
The entire cabin is outlined with sharp multicolor ambient lighting that sets the mood but also alerts occupants to possible hazards by flashing red in certain situations. As with previous S-Class models, the quality of materials exceeds expectations even in this prestigious class.
How's the S-Class' tech?
Mercedes' MBUX infotainment system was an immediate hit with us when it debuted a few years ago. This new S-Class gets an updated version with more features, but in some ways it may also be a step backward. The tracepad found on current MBUX systems is gone, though the driver can control the system via touchscreen, voice and capacitive pads on the steering wheel. Those who favor the previous tracepad or dial controller may find the new system distracting to operate.
On the plus side, the voice functions are more robust than those in last year's S-Class and give the driver substantial eyes-free control of the MBUX system. A new head-up display will help keep your eyes on the road by appearing to project information in the distance rather than directly in front of the driver. As an added bonus, an augmented reality overlay will superimpose animated arrows when your navigation route has a direction change; in previous MBUX systems, that overlay was shown in the main infotainment screen. Audio prompts for route directions can also be isolated to the driver's headrest speakers so music isn't interrupted for other passengers.
The S-Class features different driver profiles to ensure their preferred settings for seat adjustments, mirror positioning, audio presets and so on. Unlike other cars with these features, the S-Class uses a variety of techniques to identify the driver, including facial recognition, a fingerprint scanner or a simple four-digit code.
How will the S-Class keep me safe?
As expected of a luxury vehicle in this price range, the S-Class offers a full suite of safety features, plus a few other goodies. All of the optional driving aids from the last-generation S-Class are now standard. It also has the hardware needed for hands-free driving but the system won't be activated until Mercedes is confident it's ready for public use, in contrast to Tesla's approach of using their customers as beta testers. Once approved, the Mercedes' hands-free driving system will be available as an over-the-air update.
In addition to all of the standard advanced safety features, the available Pre-Safe Impulse Side system uses the E-Active Body Control hardware to help keep occupants safer in a side collision. If the system detects an imminent accident, the ride height of the vehicle will instantly rise, increasing the likelihood that the frame-reinforced side sills will take the brunt of an impact rather than the less rigid doors.
How's the S-Class' storage?
Interior storage for your personal effects isn't what we'd consider generous, but it should be adequate for most people. The door pockets, center armrest bin and cupholders are average in size, and there is an additional rubberized tray behind the big center screen.
We don't have trunk volume figures yet, but we can say that the space is deep but narrow. You should be able to fit enough luggage back there for a couple's getaway, but accessing the deeper recesses of the trunk will require an awkward stoop to reach them. Large golf bags will likely need to be inserted headfirst since there are no storage pockets aft of the wheel humps. The rear seatbacks do fold for more space, though.
If you're considering a large luxury sedan, you might want to wait for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Our initial impressions point to it holding on to its Edmunds Top Rated status, even though we're a little apprehensive about the new infotainment interface. We won't know for sure until we get to drive it for ourselves, so keep checking back here for the latest updates.
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2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class video2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class First Look ― New S-Class Luxury Sedan Redesign!
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class First Look ― New S-Class Luxury Sedan Redesign!
MARK TAKAHASHI: It's been seven years since the iconic Mercedes Benz S-Class was last redesigned. Even as the current S-Class heads out to pasture, it remains the Edmunds top-rated luxury sedan in its class. Nevertheless, it's about time for a new one, and here it is, the all-new seventh-generation 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan. The S-Class name, which is short for [GERMAN], special class in German, debuted in the early 1970s but has roots going all the way back to the mid 1950s. Over the years, the S-Class has been the standard for luxury, comfort, and refinement, but it's also known for innovation and developing emerging technologies. Many features we take for granted today debuted on an S-Class, features like crumple zones, standard airbags, seat-belt pretensioners, voice recognition, and stability control. It's a fair bet that this new S-Class will uphold that tradition of innovation. But before we get to the details, hit that Subscribe button below and head over to edmunds.com for all your car-shopping needs. Also visit edmunds.com/sellmycar to get a cash offer for your vehicle. When the S-Class goes on sale in the first half of 2021, it'll be just a little bit bigger, about two inches wider, two inches longer between the front and rear wheels, and just over an inch in length. So far, we know about the two main engines, the S500 4MATIC has a 3-liter turbocharged inline six cylinder that makes 429 horsepower and 384 pound feet of torque. The S580 4MATIC gets a 4-liter twin-turbo V8 that's good for 496 horsepower and 516 pound-feet. Both get some electrification through the EQ Boost system that adds 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It's an electric motor that acts as a starter generator and gives some extra oomph when needed. A nine-speed auto is the only transmission, and those 4Matic names denote all-wheel drive. Speaking of wheels, the new S-Class will be available with four-wheel steering. The concept is nothing new, but this version will allow the wheels to turn up to 10 degrees in the back. Mercedes claims it will reduce the turning circle to less than 36 feet, which is what you'd expect from the much smaller A-Class. Mercedes is also making the E-Active Body Control available, which I experienced on the GLE drive. Not only does it keep body roll under control but it counteracts it by leaning the car into turns, much like how a motorcycle does. It's a little weird from the driver's seat, but as a passenger, it greatly reduces any jostling. It also powers the Pre-Safe impulse side system. This feature detects an imminent side collision and lifts the vehicle ride height to ensure the strongest parts of the vehicle take the brunt of the impact instead of the passengers. Returning is Road Surface Scan which scans the road ahead with stereo cameras and adjusts the suspension to deliver the smoothest ride possible. From previous experiences, we can say it's magic over speed bumps. You don't even notice them. Since this is such an iconic sedan and I'm into design, let's talk about the design. First off, yes, it's more of an evolution, just as every S-Class in history has been, but with some special elements that kind of kick it up a notch. First off, yes, we have the upright physical emblem right here on top of the hood rather than built into the grille, which has been a staple of the S-Class for time immemorial. Now we have the new grille too, which has some nice little bevels here on the top corners, and it's slightly bigger, both in terms of height and width, but I think it works. I'm not too crazy about this sensor panel here, but when you realize how many things are packed behind it, it does make sense. And when you think about that it may have level three hands-free driving sometime in the future-- not just yet and definitely not at launch-- yes, it's pretty easy to put up with those panels. Further down, we look at this hood which is pretty much a clean sheet, not a lot of fussiness going on, and I like that. It gives a more substantial, heavy look, which is what you want from a big German luxury sedan, right? Further down, well, we have this character line that starts at the headlights and goes all the way to the taillights. It's a little higher than before. Used to run maybe closer to the door handles, but now it's this nice accent that runs all the way down. And again, we have more of this clean sheet down here without any messiness or accessories that aren't necessary. Doesn't have that little chrome tab off of a 7 Series that really throws me, and it gives it that imposing presence that you want. Also, new for 2021 are these recessed door handles. Yes, everyone's going to say it's a ripoff of Tesla, but you know what? It worked for Tesla. It'll work for Mercedes too. And as we get to the back of the vehicle, well, it's a little different, maybe not what I was quite expecting. It's tapering down a little bit. It's also tapering in a little bit, which kind of makes me feel like it's a little weak. Also, I'm not too crazy about these triangular taillights that remind me of the A-Class or CLA. For an S-Class, I want something a lot more distinctive, big, bold. They do have this chrome strip going across, but that doesn't give it the presence that I'm quite looking for. Odds are, though, I'll be fine with it after I see it on the road a couple times. Of course, since it's a luxury sedan, the interior is vitally important, so let's check it out. The interior design is, well, pretty special. First off, from the driver's seat, you get the impression that the hood continues on into the dashboard. It's almost as though there's no break where the windshield starts, and that's a really special feeling and something that you don't get in any other car. But let's address the elephant in the room first, which is the big touchscreen in the middle. I do like touchscreens. I've been a huge fan of the Mercedes MBUX system, but I think I'm going to need a little time with this to get a full judgment on this. If you've seen the design video I did a few months ago, you'll know that I'm not a big fan of taking away buttons. And according to the press release, they removed about 27 physical buttons out of the interior. So there aren't any real physical shortcuts that you can just use knowing that you're hitting the button with your fingertip anymore, so you do have to take your eyes off the road to adjust things. But since it's the MBUX system, you can still use your voice as well. You can just simply say, hey, Mercedes, I'm a little hot, and it'll turn the temperature down for you. The new steering wheel is missing the kind of black thumb-scrolly things they used to have, but there is a capacitive-touch-button thing here that works the same. So you can control the main screen with your right hand on the steering wheel, and you control the instrument panel with the left thumb-scrolly thing. It's a technical term. Bear with me. There are a lot of new features to talk about, and it starts as soon as you get in the car. On the instrument panel here, you'll see this little notch, kind of like what you'd see at the top of an iPhone X. But behind that notch is actually a bunch of sensors and cameras that are watching your eyes. It's also face recognition. So when you sit down, it will recognize you if you turn on that feature. If you're a little paranoid about privacy, well, you can turn that off, but it also has this fingerprint scanner here which does the same thing. It tells the vehicle who you are and what your preferences are for audio, climate control, as well as seat position. There's also a cool feature in the app and in the setup here where you can just tell the car how tall you are and it will try its best to adjust the seat for you. It's a nice little novelty, and I'd like to try it out at some point. Otherwise, the screen is very easy to read. It's very sharp. It's quick to respond. According to the engineer, it has 50% more computing power, and it shows. There's really no delay. It's nice, smooth scrolling. And most of the stuff you'd get here, you can get on this instrument panel too. The instrument panel, well, that deserves some serious love too. This has this 3D imaging feature where it looks like the dials are floating in space, but the nav map behind it is kind of flat and trailing away from you. It is super cool. And you have these different themes that you can choose. My favorite is the Sport which gives you this almost tunnel view. It's very, very trippy. I hope you'll be able to gain an appreciation for this on video. If not, definitely check it out when it shows up in the dealerships. It's not just a novelty. It's just super cool. Also new is a much larger head-up display that projects the image very large, and visually, it seems like it's about 30 feet ahead of the car. The cool thing with the head-up display, though, is it has the same type of augmented-reality overlay that the previous MBUX system had. So if you have a destination set in the navigation, when you have a turn coming up, it will overlay those arrows right where you need to turn on the road. Greatly simplifies navigating a city that you're unfamiliar with. It takes a lot of the stress out of driving. As far as materials quality goes, well, Mercedes-Benz has pretty much been unassailable when it comes to the S-Class. Honestly, if you want something better, you're going to have spend a hell of a lot more money. We're talking Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Let's also talk about the interior ambient lighting. I've always been a fan of it. It gives the interior this cool, almost lounge-like vibe, but they took it a step further with the new S-Class. If there's a hazard coming up, these lights will actually change and flash to red to alert you of that. Also when you have the passenger exit alert, as soon as you start reaching for the handle, the sensors will pick it up. It'll tell you if a vehicle or bicyclist or something else is coming up behind you, warning you not to open the door. And the interior ambient lighting will change red to alert you to that as well. There's also a new 360-degree camera system, which is a bit like BMW's where you can set it and sort of scroll around to see what's around the vehicle, giving you a much better idea if you're about to hit something in a very tight parking spot. It works well in the BMW, and I think it will work just as well in this S-Class. There will be some hands-free semi-autonomous driving available but not at launch. It's possible that we will get that as an over-the-air update since the hardware is already in the car, but the good thing is a lot of the driver assists that were optional on the previous S-Class are now standard. So you get the Distronic adaptive cruise control and the traffic-jam assist. So if you're in dense traffic, you can actually have the car drive you up to a certain speed. On the highway, though, you still have to have your hands on the wheel, and it will warn you after about 10 or 12 seconds to put your hands on the wheel. Otherwise, it has a lot of potential to be the next big tech sedan. But it's a big sedan, so let's check out the rear seats too. [MUSIC PLAYING] No surprise. I have plenty of room back here with the seat set for me up front. Tons of space under the seat. Can't even really touch the seat with my toes and plenty of headroom as well. So I'm 5 foot 10. Most adults will be just fine back here. Of course, it slides, reclines, and all that goodness. Now, as you can see, this is a four-seat model, which won't be available in the US, at least not in the beginning. There's hints that it will be available on other S-Classes in the future. You can fill in the blanks there. But it will be a three-seat back here. But the center will fall down, and you do have a nice, big center console. The bigger innovation back here is actually for safety. There's a new airbag built into the backs of the front seats. That kind of balloons out and almost catches the passengers back here like a catcher's mitt for that added assurance just in case things go horribly, horribly wrong. Another cool accent that I like that I thought maybe other people should do is these illuminated seat-belt buckles. So on a dark night, you don't really have to fumble around down there to get cinched in. If you opt for the rear entertainment system, you have a lot of the same options you do with other rear entertainment systems. That includes if you're looking up a destination, you can send those directions up to the driver. Also, you can easily share the content from one screen to another, whether it's music or video. It's a nice touch. Now once we do get to drive this, I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of time back here, and I'll be able to give you much more solid impressions of comfort and ride quality. As far as cargo capacity goes, you should have no problem squeezing a ton of luggage for a couple's getaway. The space itself is really deep, but it's actually kind of narrow You don't have that cutaway here behind the wheel well, so if you have some big golf bags, you're probably going to have to squeeze them in diagonally. But, hey, you can still get them in there no problem. And honestly, you probably have them stored at the club anyway. There are some nice touches. You have these bag holders here so your contents don't go scattering across and you don't have to chase down everything. Otherwise, it should meet all of your expectations for hauling stuff. Without driving this new S-Class, it's impossible to tell whether or not it'll retain its Edmunds top-rated status, but things are definitely looking favorable against the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Porsche Panamera. We should have a more complete review with driving impressions as we get closer to the on-sale date in the spring of 2021. In the meantime, head on over to edmunds.com for the latest news on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class as well as its competition.
After seven years, Mercedes-Benz is rolling out a redesign of its top-rated luxury sedan, the 2021 S-Class. In this video, Mark Takahashi explains what's new and what to expect from this top-of-the-line luxury sedan, including details on the interior and exterior, four-wheel steering and the return of Road Surface Scan.