The seventh-generation S-Class looks set to regain its place at the forefront of the brand's technical knowhow, with a range of new electrified powertrains and advanced driver assist features. Comfort and technology levels will take a boost with the target of lifting it beyond rivals such as the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series.
The new Mercedes flagship, which is due in UK showrooms next year, has been developed to support two distinctly different saloon models for the first time. While standard versions are set to receive a range of plug-in hybrid drivetrains, the German car maker also plans to introduce an aerodynamically optimised pure-electric version that insiders say will serve as the flagship model for its new EQ electric vehicle sub-brand.
Badged EQ S, the new model will offer a claimed range in excess of 310 miles on the latest WLTP test cycle when it goes on sale in 2022. Plug-in hybrid versions of the S-Class will feature part-time zero-emission capability for distances of up to 62 miles, together with the option of a newly developed 4Matic four-wheel-drive system with fully variable apportioning of drive between the front and rear axles.
The EQ S forms part of Mercedes’ £9 billion programme to introduce more than 10 dedicated electric vehicles to the UK market within the next six years.
In a further change, it is believed that Mercedes-Benz has decided to do away with its long tradition of offering the standard S-Class, which goes under the internal codename W223, with two different wheelbases. Nothing is official at this stage, but it is understood that the growth of the E-Class to a length of 4920mm is behind a decision to produce the new S-Class exclusively in long-wheelbase guise, with the car measuring around 5280mm in length.
However, while the standard S-Class sits on the MRA platform, the more technically advanced four-wheel drive EQ S will be the first Mercedes-Benz model to be based on the new modular electric architecture (MEA) platform. Unlike the structures being developed to underpin smaller EQ models, it is not based on an existing platform but has been developed as dedicated EV architecture with a flat floor to house batteries.