By on May 28, 2020

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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12 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Gives Up Trying to Hide the New S-Class...”

  • avatar

    The whole “this car looks too much like that car” bit is played out and tiresome but…………………… all I can see is 2016 Kia Cadenza.

  • avatar

    Merc should hide it out of embarrassment, it looks like a Hyundai, or a Kia, maybe a bit of both

    • 0 avatar

      When the self driving electric pods take over, brands names won’t matter. Mercedes, BMW, Kia, Hyundai, Who really cares? I’ll be too busy in my virtual reality escapades.

  • avatar

    I just hope they don’t go with the same melting lozenge tail lamp design as the C- and E-classes.

  • avatar

    Voice-activated controls, what a uselessly crass idea. My parents went to great lengths when I was a kid to get me to read without speaking out loud. Yeah, it happened naturally by the time I was seven. Also learned to eat with my mouth closed. You know, the usual things. Adult people alone talking to themselves I always took as the sign of a loon, perhaps because dear old Dad was a psychiatrist and pointed out said loons on the street to we kids. But in a car or activating these home spies from Amazon and Google, the lack of a button or two strikes me as cheap. Now I’m apparently supposed to talk to an inanimate object and make it into my personal play robot doll with a non-human yet lively personality. No thanks. Arm whirling gestures in a car are inappropriate as well. What, people are so porcine that operating a button or wiper stalks causes them to be out of breath, so we’ll go for majorette moves instead? That’ll give ’em a heart attack from excessive heart rates! Glass displays are cheap judging by how low cost laptops and tablets are these days at retail, let alone at cost. That’s the impetus, cheapen, while avoiding real controls that take time to assemble and wire. But we’re not talking a $25K special edition Altima here — it’s a Mercedes S-Class with perfume dispenser and double-plated plastichrome and optional leather that might actually have come from a dead cow. $100K or more, so this nonsense cheap electronic flash has to be sold as bleeding edge that you just have to have or fall behind the curve. Taste and decorum? What’s that?

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      Being the hopeless nerd I am, I’d probably try voice commands like “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” or “lay in a course for Vulcan, warp seven…engage”.

      • 0 avatar

        @Freed Mike,

        The system is programmed not to respond to dangerous commands such as turning off the engine or opening doors. It’s a safety feature. Imagine if you have little children sitting in the back seats who find it funny to instruct the car to turn off the engine while dad is driving. But I know you were making a joke. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but you speak with German accent of course it will understand, it was born in the same country. I have a problem with my accent – cars do not recognize it. I am contemplating a law suit.

      • 0 avatar


        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.

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