Mercedes-Benz Gives Up Trying to Hide the New S-Class

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
mercedes benz gives up trying to hide the new s class

With the next S-Class leaking more than a screen door on a submarine, Mercedes-Benz seems to have given up trying to obfuscate its design.

With its freshly un-camouflaged sedan having been shared less than a month ago, the German automaker dropped a teaser image that effectively confirms the leak was the real deal.

There’s not much to be said beyond the model being everything you’d expect from a new S-Class. The car has been modernized, with some blunting taking place at the front to give a flatter face than its predecessor. Head and taillights have grown slimmer and more horizontal while air inlets have grown in size, now matching Mercedes’ updated styling language for the brand. It’s likely doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, generally falling fairly closely to whatever we cooked up in our minds.

The S-Class’ design evolves so gradually that it rarely throws us a curveball. This is also true for the W223, at least for its exterior. The perpetually handsome luxury sedan has likewise continued to push the envelope on modern driving technology — another tradition for the model. This time, however, tech dictated that the manufacturer go extra heavy on the screens.

This is something that’s become a contentious issue among automotive enthusiasts. Modern trends encourage manufacturers to install increasingly large screens inside the cabins of vehicles, with more ways to interface with their new connected features. While these frequently offer unique experiences, and are liked by those with a technological bent, we’re not enthralled with the industry embracing app-based services (as we often find the systems less intuitive to use. There are also questions no one seems to be raising about an industry that’s effectively putting a giant smartphone-like interface at eye level after we collectively agreed that using phones while driving was a terrible idea.

Driving while attempting to clumsily procure map directions to the pizza place you just ordered through your car’s onboard internet? No problem. But cruising while using your phone? Shame on you, that’s a ticket.

The W223 takes the already limited number of buttons from the current S-Class and gets rid of as many as possible, allowing more space to be allocated for touch screens. The good news is that this is the car most likely to execute that strategy well. The S-Class has a good reputation when it comes to new technology, often being the first to implement cutting-edge features before the rest of the industry even considers it. Then again, touch screens aren’t new and it’s not obvious Mercedes-Benz is even bothering to do something truly unique with them. In earlier leaks, the S-Class’ interior boasted awkward floating digital gauges that we hope turn out to be pre-production only.

We imagine Mercedes will attempt to sell you on a touch-sensitive interface by offering gesture controls and voice commands the automaker will insist have been “improved.” Despite voice commands making a lot of headway over the past decade, they rarely feel easier than tapping a few buttons. Meanwhile, gesture controls seem to be the most complicated way to get anything done, as manufacturers require specific motions for certain tasks — some of which you might make by accident while simply gesturing during conversations with passengers.

That might make it sound as though we’re concerned Mercedes-Benz has mucked up its flagship sedan, which would be accurate. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t officially screwed up anything until we see everything the S-Class offers. The manufacturer has promised a strong emphasis on artificial intelligence, which could be the thing that sets it apart or just makes its voice command system a little easier to use.

The newest S-Class debuts later this year and should go on sale for the 2021 model year with a batch of inline-six and V8 engines — all of which will be hybridized to some degree.

[Image: Daimler]

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6 of 12 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 28, 2020

    The good news is that Mercedes wisely decided to not go ahead and copy Kia as BMW did.

  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on May 29, 2020

    Their new MBXU system works rather well, I have had the opportunity to try it in an A200 loaner when my GL320 CDI was being serviced. The system responded instantly and recognized all of my commands or questions. I found it very practical and not distracting at all. It is rather useful and essentially allows you to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times. Some cars like the new CLA-Klasse have gesture control in combination with MBXU, and it appears to work quite well. For the S-Klasse I am most certain these features have been improved and surpassed over their entry-level cars like the A- or CLA-Klasse.

    • See 3 previous
    • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on May 31, 2020

      @Inside The system responds to different languages. My eldest son was along for the ride and he changed the system language into English. From then on the system responded to our commands in English. Other language options I recall were Danish, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian and I am probably forgetting a number of other languages. It is a very fascinating technology.

  • VoGhost So, it's a slow, expensive, cramped Plaid with less range?
  • Dukeisduke Why the hell doesn't Farley just resign? Why hasn't Bill Ford fired him? I lay all this at Farley's feet.
  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the livestream (I'm a MT+ subscriber), but after 15 minutes of jawing by the presenters, I got bored and turned it off. I may watch it this weekend, when I can fast forward through that stuff, to get to the reveal.
  • Dukeisduke Electric power steering, I assume. First-gen Chevy Cruzes can suffer from similar issues, usually traceable to a flaky battery negative cable, a $10 OEM part. Weird, huh?
  • Kwik_Shift Once 15 Minute Cities start to be rolled out, you won't be far enough away from home to worry about range anxiety.