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Next Gen Luxury: All-New Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Chris Kaiser

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is getting a new generation for 2021. Here’s all the new high-tech luxury destined for this flagship sedan.

Carrying the Torch

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class – mbusa.com  |  Shop new Mercedes-Benz S-Class on Carsforsale.com

While the rest of the automotive world is busy slicing and dicing their crossover lineups and glitzing up their full-size pickups, Mercedes continues on as the preeminent standard-bearer for the classic luxury sedan. For 2021, their flagship S-Class is starting its seventh official generation with a thorough makeover inside and out. And as with S-Classes of the past, the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class will come with a load of new and novel tech sure to further expand our expectations for luxury vehicles of all stripes.

Exterior Updates – BFM a.k.a. Big Friendly Mercedes

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com

In many ways the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class looks shockingly traditional. This is a vehicle that, at least on the outside, prefers subtlety over ostentation (Mercedes leaves the latter to their G-Wagon). The S-Class gets a new platform for 2021 and with it grows slightly from the prior generation, adding one inch in length, two inches in width, and just under half an inch in height. And yet, with its high “catwalk” belt line running just below the windows and a short (and rather humdrum) rear end, the new S-Class looks less aggressive than its predecessors.

The front end gets a thorough refresh. The grille is gaping, partly because it houses sensors including a lidar system, cameras, and even microphones, all of which will be leveraged for some level of autonomous driving. The eventual target will be full Level 3 autonomy, starting in their home market of Germany and expanding from there. These systems also allow the E-Active Body Control which adjusts the suspension to roadway conditions on the fly.

The LED headlights also get an update, trading out the distinctive S-Class treble lines for dots. Trust us, this looks a heck of a lot cool than it sounds. The taillights also get revamped with three receding tiers of LED lights for a cool depth effect. The triangular design to the taillights is a bit polarizing, with some likening them unfavorably to prior generations of the Mercedes A-Class and CLA. The combination of the cool new lights and their odd shape make the updated rear end a bit of a wash.

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com

Another new flourish for the S-Class are the recessed door handles that extend and retract when you unlock and lock the doors. A pretty nifty party trick if nothing else. The tailpipes also get a little less fake this go around as the decorative tips connect directly back to the real exhaust pipes.

New MBUX – The S-Class is Watching You

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior - mbusa.com

The interior of the new 2021 S-Class is where the brand sets itself apart from its luxury competitors, only the new Lexus LC 500 comes close. The new S-Class’ interior is markedly less busy than its last generation counterpart, with a full 27 buttons and dials having been integrated into infotainment system. All in all, the new S-Class interior is cleaner and more elegant than ever before.

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior - mbusa.com

And as to that infotainment system, it gets the latest version of the MBUX system housed in a massive 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen interface. For those suffering from button-loss anxiety, fear not. The MBUX voice recognition has been updated and improved. Though we will have to see whether it now differentiates between “Hi, Mercedes…” and a casual mention of the brand. There are also buttons on the steering wheel that can navigate the infotainment system if you don’t like talking to your car. The MBUX system will recognize up to twenty-seven languages, come with smart home integration (yes, you read that right, you’ll be able to adjust your home AC from the back of your S-Class), and feature driver and passenger gesture monitoring.

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The infotainment screen is paired with a new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and an optional HUD. The heads-up display spans a whopping 77-inches across the windshield and features augmented reality with 3D-like animations to aid in navigation. These directional arrows look to be especially helpful when navigating complicated or unfamiliar urban roadways.

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior - mbusa.com

Even the ambient lighting gets better in 2021. In addition to seven color schemes and 64 different colors to choose from, the ambient lighting will also turn red either when exterior sensors detect an imminent collision or to provide exit warnings to safeguard pedestrians and cyclists.

Under the Hood – The Best Is Yet to Come

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com

Mercedes has yet to spill the beans on Maybach, AMG, and full EV versions of the S-Class (though it is rumored the EV will target an incredible 434-mile range). But here’s what we know about the first of the new S-Classes. Both the 500 and 580 will feature a mild hybrid set up, augmenting the ICE motor with an electric one. The S-Class 500 will be powered by a 3.0L I-6 engine and, in tandem with the electric motor, make 429hp and 384lb.-ft. of torque. The S-Class 580 will feature a 4.0L V8 good for 496hp and 516lb.-ft. of torque. A plug-in hybrid will precede the full EV version and reportedly boast an impressive 61-mile electric only range. All three powertrains will be mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and feature 4matic AWD.

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class performance - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class performance - mbusa.com

One of the most impressive new driving features on the S-Class is its rear axle steering set up which allows for a full 10° of play for the rear wheels. This translates to a reduced turning circle by a 6.2-feet, making the S-Class almost as maneuverable as the much smaller A-Class. And, in case you’re worried, the S-Class will continue to be offered in both short and extended wheelbases.

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com
2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com

The S-Class is also heavily stacked with cutting edge safety features. The myriad of sensors and cameras facilitate a number of driver assistance features including Mercedes’ version of adaptive cruise that will adjust to posted speed limits automatically, evasive steering assist, active blind spot avoidance, lane keep assist, and active brake assist. Perhaps most impressive though is the Pre-Safe Impulse Control which raises the car in anticipation of a side impact to allow the brunt of the force to travel through the chassis rather than the passenger compartment.

The Cost of Being a First Adopter

Mercedes hasn’t come out with official numbers yet for the 500 and 580, but it’ safe to assume the new 2021 S-Class will, like the current generation, be starting somewhere just under the $100,000 mark and go up from there. Judging from all the new technology and what we consider to be a significant aesthetic upgrade to an already stellar interior, the next-generation S-Class looks to be worth saving your pennies for (or taking out a second mortgage for).

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - mbusa.com

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class – mbusa.com  |  Shop new Mercedes-Benz S-Class on Carsforsale.com

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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