The first prototypes for Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation S-Class have been spotted.
The car is expected in showrooms in 2020, as a 2021 model, and we can see that Mercedes' engineers are using the BMW 7-Series as a benchmark.
From earlier test mules, we know the general size and proportions will match up with the current model but there will be a slightly wider track and it also looks like the hood will be lower and longer.
The current Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the W222, was introduced for 2014 and immediately rocketed to the top of the sales chart. The 6-figure sedan racked up more than 100,000 sales in its first year and that was before the arrival of additional body styles such as the 2-door cars and extra-long Maybach and Pullman.
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-MedienEnlarge Photo
It’s clear the new S-Class has some big shoes to fill. Luckily for it, it will adopt a new platform, in this case Mercedes’ MRA design for rear-wheel-drive cars. The current S-Class rides on an updated version of its predecessor’s architecture.
It’s hard to gauge what Mercedes has in store for the new S-Class this early out. The current model just received its mid-cycle update so understandably Mercedes is shy to talk about the next one. We already know a few things, however. Every powertrain will be electrified, either with mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology, and most engines will either be a 3.0-liter inline-6 or 4.0-liter V-8. It’s not clear if there will be an electric version as Mercedes is expected to launch electric cars under the EQ sub-brand initially. In other words, don't be surprised if we see an EQS electric sedan show up.
But getting back to the new S-Class, there will also be much more advanced self-driving systems, including perhaps a Level 3 system. This is where the car can handle its own in certain situations, leaving the driver free to do other things. Should the driver need to take back control, the car will give warnings well in advance. Audi has already introduced such a system in its latest A8, though its availability will be limited due to a lack of regulations.
We’re also expecting Mercedes to offer the next S-Class in multiple body lengths, from a short wheelbase right up to the extra-long Pullman. However, there’s a good chance the current S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet will be phased out. A roomier next-generation SL-Class with 2+2 seating is expected to fill the void.