6 reasons why nothing surpasses an 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class W223
It’s a big day when Mercedes pulls the covers off a new S-Class; Jupiter orbits the sun about as often as Stuttgart presents a new generation to the world’s elite. Not that you’d know at first glance of this new W223 model – so predictable is the design that the only obvious visual cues are that this one has flush, pop-out door handles and rear lights like a CLS.
But that so very much isn’t the point. The S-Class is intended to be a bastion of comfort and technology, not only presenting the future of tech that will trickle down to other Mercedes models in the years that follow, but also influencing the course of action for the entire car industry. Few who want one will be bothered by those barely-changed looks, as Mercedes’ limo has a rare level of customer loyalty. Around 70 per cent of US owners buy another one afterwards, ditto 80 per cent in Europe. Around 90 per cent of S-Classes are in long-wheelbase format and, this time, there won’t be a grandiose coupe or convertible. Merc’s do-everything luxury car, then, is back once again to restate its claim to be the best car in the world. Here’s how Stuttgart’s A-team have done just that.
1. IT’S A ROLLING FORTRESS. While not literally armoured, W223 debuts some innovative safety tech. The ‘Digital Light’ headlamps each use 1.3 million micro-mirrors to refract light, enabling the high beam to avoid dazzling oncoming road users with great precision. The E-Active Body Control air suspension raises by 8cm if it detects a side impact, to take the brunt of the force via the chassis rather than the doors and windows. There’s a new central airbag between the driver and front passenger, and – a world first – a frontal airbag for rear occupants.
2. IT DRIVES ITSELF. Although not available right now, with legal issues to be ironed out, Mercedes says the S-Class is ready for Level 3 autonomy via its new Drive Pilot system. Expected to go into production in late 2021, this will allow no-driver-required operations at up to 37mph, freeing the driver to use the in-car office tech to get on with some work. The Optional Intelligent Park Pilot is already available to be installed, allowing the S-Class to drop you off and pootle off to find somewhere to park in a multi-storey all on its own.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class W223 interior
3. AMG WILL ELECTRIFY IT. In contrast to the tech innovations, the engine range at launch is relatively conventional. Two diesels (S300d/282bhp, S400d/325bhp) and two petrols (S450/362bhp and S500/429bhp) start the range off in December 2020, with a V8-powered S580 and a plug-in hybrid capable of driving 62 miles on e-power coming in 2021. AMG is busy working on a hotter S-Class, pairing a burly V8 with e-motors for more than 800bhp and a supercar-baiting sub-3.5sec 0-62mph launch time.
4. IT DEFIES PHYSICS. All-wheel steering can turn the rears by up to 10є, making the S turn as tightly as an A-Class hatch when parking. Standard air suspension hunkers down at speed to reduce aerodynamic drag, while optional E-Active Body Control air suspension tilts into corners by 3є and eliminates squatting and pitching under hard acceleration/braking/cornering (like Audi’s S8). It’s powered by a 48V, belt-driven hydraulic pump and uses five scanners and a camera to analyse the road surface 1000 times a second.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class W223 backside
5. IT COSSETS YOU. Highlights of a cabin that’s roomy, comfortable and clever, front and rear, include an optional augmentedreality head-up display. There are 10 massage programmes and an exercise coach to keep you lithe when you’re stuck in traffic. A heated and removable cushion keeps the chill off in winter and the climate control can activate air recirculation automatically in tunnels. The vast central touchscreen is hugely customisable, while the driver’s instruments have a 3D effect that prioritises key information.
6. IT GETS TO KNOW YOU. The new S-Class soon learns who’s driving and what they like, with fingerprint recognition able to unlock your personal settings. Knowing your preferences means Interior Assist can offer help without being asked – for instance, by changing the interior lighting when the driver reaches for something in the dark, or by operating the blinds, or warning that you’re about to open a door into the path of a cyclist. The latest-generation MBUX user interface understands and speaks 27 languages, naturally.