New Mercedes-Benz S-Class: full details of new luxury car champ

  • Mercedes S-Class has been reinvented from the ground up
  • New-generation car launches in December, on sale in 2021
  • It looks much the same as before, but packed with new tech

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2020) main image

The launch of a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class might not seem that important to most of us, but its arrival is actually very big news. Not only because the default-choice luxury saloon promises to set new standards, but also because it will usher in technology that will filter its way down to the family cars we'll all be driving in a few years' time.

It's no surprise that the latest-generation S-Class once again takes technology and comfort to a new level. But as you'd expect for the car that has been crowned Best Luxury car for the past three years in the Parkers new car awards, the latest S-Class keeps the design as evolutionary and discreet as possible along the way.

What's it like inside?

The dashboard is dominated by screens, as is the case with most luxury cars these days. A single infotainment panel slopes downward, with a central portrait touchscreen that takes up most of your view. A new air filtration system is included, and can do things like pump perfume into the vents and automatically activate the recirculation setting when you go through a tunnel.

The seats have a new massage system that promises a more pronounced feel, and can be had with speakers in the headrests that support the Burmeister surround sound system.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2020) interior image, rear seats

There's also a pillow that can be used as a neck warmer. Mercedes says that there are 10 massage programmes available for all seats, and the car includes the Energising Comfort and Coach suite of programs that help you relax or even exercise while in the vehicle.

The clean interior design approach extends to the use of  anaugmented reality head-up display and 3D instruments. Several different designs can be had for the digital instruments, from a sporty one with red dials, to one named Exclusive that displays white dials and backgrounds.

Updated voice control

The MBUX voice assistant has also had an upgrade, allowing for even more natural speech – if someone says they’re tired, one of the car’s ‘Energising Comfort’ programs can be activated, for example. And when a call comes in, the ‘hey Mercedes’ phrase is not required – just say ‘accept call’. Mercedes says its voice assistant can be used in 27 languages.

The voice assistant can be also used like an Alexa or Google Home, so you can ask it general knowledge questions and get answers via the internet. Also like smart speakers, you can link up your car to your smart home network and activate smart devices in your home from the car.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2020) interior image, dashboard

Evolutionary styling made deliberately discreet

It's an all-new car, but it's neither dramatically different from the previous-generation S-Class nor does it stand apart from its sister cars from the Mercedes-Benz range. But that’s not the point, as Mercedes doesn’t need to.

New headlights and a tweaked grille arrangement can be seen at the front, with a lower apron benefitting from a more aggressive look if you go for an AMG Line model. At the sides and rear, there’s a reduction in bulges and lines, with the tapered rear showing off lighting that’s similar in shape to the CLS. The most novel detail is flush doorhandles that pop out when you approach, an increasingly common feature.

Computer controlled air suspension updated

The S-Class rides on standard air suspension that smooths out lumps and bumps and will lower itself automatically at speed. Splash out on the E-Active Body Control system, however, and this trick system allows the new S-Class to tilt into corners to maintain an equilibrium while on the move.

The technology also raises the ride height by 8cm when sensors detect a side impact is imminent, in order for the chassis to take the brunt of the crash via the door sills, rather than the doors themselves. The technology comprises a fully-active 48v air suspension system, which made its debut on the GLE.

New personalisation options

The new MBUX technology is designed to be more personalised to each occupant and introduces a number of biometric security measures like fingerprint and face scanning tech and individual voice recognition.

Up to three screens are available for the rear passengers, with individual content accessed by the Mercedes Me account (via those aforementioned biometric detection systems), which can be displayed quickly and shared between all occupants.

The voice assistant can be activated from the rear, too, and gestures like glancing over your shoulder can close the rear sun blind. The car even guesses your size and weight when you sit in the drivers seat and pre-positions the door mirrors.

What engines and versions will be offered?

At launch in December 2020, there will be two diesels and two petrols using Mercedes-Benz's latest straight-six engines. The petrols also have 48v mild hybrid assistance that helps boost torque, and all hit 155mph. See below for some key specs:

• S350d (with optional 4Matic all-wheel drive): 285hp, 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds
• S400d 4Matic: 330hp, 5.4sec 0-62mph
• S450 4Matic: 367hp, 5.1sec 0-62mph
• S500 4Matic: 435hp, 4.9sec 0-62mph

A range-topping S580 V8 will arrive later on, as will a plug-in hybrid S-Class that’s capable of 62 miles on battery alone. Beyond that, expect an AMG version for performance and Maybach for luxury.

What this means for you

What you're looking at here is the most advanced, safest saloon that money can buy – and although some of its features might seem sci-fi now, you'll be embracing them in your SUV of the mid-2020s. For a certain group of buyers, the S-Class is the go-to car, and Mercedes-Benz has ensured that the latest one will remain so, by balancing its styling and technology perfectly.

We've yet to see what the new S-Class is going to cost, but expect price rises to accommodate the new tech. Given the outgoing car is still a hugely accomplished car, you can be confident in that one's abilities, if you're looking at an end-of-line model. However, don't expect any bargains, but do haggle hard if you do decide to go for the old one.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is due to arrive in dealers from December 2020, with UK deliveries beginning in early 2021. You’ll have to wait a little longer if you want to buy a plug-in hybrid version, or fancy one of the go-faster AMG versions that will undoubtedly follow.

>> Read more: Parkers luxury car of the year 2020
>> Read more: Mercedes-Benz S-Class review

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2020) rear view, doors open