The next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-class will strengthen its position as the world’s best-selling luxury saloon with unparalleled levels of safety, driveline, chassis and telematics technology when it goes on sale next year.
With up to five cutting-edge new safety systems, including a ‘Braking Bag’ that bursts under the front axle to add an extra dimension of last-second emergency stopping power, the S-class is likely to rate as the world’s safest car when it launches late in 2012.
A computer-controlled suspension system, with redesigned multi-link front and rear axles, more efficient engines and a nine-speed automatic gearbox promise to make the latest S-class a better drive, a more relaxed ride and a more sparing consumer of the planet’s resources.
The platform structure for the new family is Mercedes’ steel, modular rear-wheel drive architecture — which already underpins both the E-class and the M-class and will soon form the basis of the next-generation C-class.
However, in an effort to keep weight under control, some exterior panels of the S-class, such as the doors, will be fashioned in aluminium.
There are also strong indications that the four-wheel-drive 4Matic model will at last become available in the UK following extensive lobbying by Mercedes-Benz UK.
There will be five models in the range: a four-door saloon, two extended-wheelbase cars, a short-wheelbase coupé and, for the first time, a soft-top convertible.
The standard and long-wheelbase saloons are due for launch next year, the extra-long- wheelbase Pullman and coupé in 2013 and the convertible in 2014. The Pullman will satisfy demand in China for an even roomier car than today’s LWB S-class.
The coupé will replace the current CL. It will form the basis of an all-new S-class cabriolet, with an advanced fabric hood previewed on the Ocean Drive 2006 concept car, and targeted at the Bentley Continental GTC.
The new S-class will have a more contemporary style than its predecessor. “We’ve moved away from the Gothic-inspired look towards a more technically orientated appearance,” says Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener.
Wagener talks about the new model “adopting a certain visual lightness” through “new sculptural forms”, while “retaining visual substance” through “a more cohesive lineage, front to rear”.
Key styling cues include a more upright and wider grille, LED headlamps, a strongly contoured bonnet, heavily sculpted flanks, a more upright windscreen, a rounded roofline, a heavily angled rear screen and drooping rear end.