What is it?
Meet the most advanced production car yet to wear the three-pointed star.
Not since the very first Mercedes-Benz models started rolling off the production line in 1926 to set the brand on course for global luxury car prominence has Stuttgart attempted to produce something approaching the engineering complexity and sheer technical ambition of the new S-Class saloon.
“In investment terms, no other Mercedes model comes close,” says Jürgen Weissinger, the man charged with the development of the seventh-generation S-Class and its upcoming new sister model, the electric EQS.
The Mk7 S-Class isn’t just new; it also represents an entirely different engineering and technical philosophy to the car it replaces. It’s one centred on electrification, digitisation and connectivity, albeit within the flagship model’s traditional values of comfort, refinement and performance.
It’s the first Mercedes developed to drive fully autonomously without a driver, if only within the confines of a suitably networked parking garage, where it will search for empty bays and park itself fully remotely. This is part of a newly developed Park Pilot system that draws on level-four autonomous driving technology not yet offered by any competitor.
Furthermore, the S-Class now supports level-three driving at an EU-prescribed top speed of 37mph (at first only on selected sections of German autobahn) as a function of a new Drive Pilot system that uses lidar, short- and long-range radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and, it’s claimed, the most advanced GPS yet to feature in a production car.
Another first is over-the-air capability, which allows remote software updates to be made for more than 50 different components via an embedded SIM card.
It’s a bold leap in technical terms even by S-Class standards, driven by recent advances made by rivals such as the latest Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Tesla Model S, no less, and Mercedes knows it. We could sense the nervousness of its normally self-assured engineers during the car’s launch in Germany last week.