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Mercedes reveals technofest W223 S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes reveals technofest W223 S-Class
All-new Mercedes S-Class has heavily digitised cabin and 2.6 million pixel headlights.
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What's all this about?

It's the all-new, seventh-generation, 'W223' Mercedes S-Class.

Ooh, goody! That means lots of technology, doesn't it?

Yup, a new S-Class normally pioneers lots of new equipment and this one is no different, although in a lot of cases it's an evolution of things we've seen before. Like rear-axle steering, which isn't exactly new, but the W223 can swing its back tyres up to ten degrees either side - which means you can really see the rear wheels in action (have a look at the picture gallery). It also cuts the turning circle by 1.9 metres.

Then there's the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment. This is version 2.0, with 50 per cent more computing power than its immediate predecessor (some stats: memory bandwidth of 41,790MB/s, a 320GB solid-state hard drive and 16GB of RAM) and all presented on a new 12.8-inch centre-console OLED screen that's 64 per cent larger in display area than the outgoing W222's item. This heavily digitised human-machine interface reduces physical buttons on the dashboard by no fewer than 27 in number, while it also allows for fully personalised media in the rear seats as there are another two OLED screens back there. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, as on the sixth-generation S-Class, but here it is three-dimensional in appearance and is supplemented by an augmented-reality Head-Up Display that is akin to having a 77-inch TV floating around ten metres in front of the car, says Mercedes. The voice control is capable of working in 27 different languages. Inside, a Burmester high-end 4D surround sound option has fully 38 speakers and, elsewhere, cameras watch the occupants and predict which functions they're about to use next, readying the relevant technology for them. It is basically Skynet on wheels, this thing.

Oh, that fills me with confidence. Is the bulk of the tech inside the car?

Yes, but not exclusively so. The W223 S-Class rides on E-Active Body Control air suspension which monitors the current driving situation up to 1,000 times a second and can provide comfort which Mercedes claims could only be improved if the car wasn't attached to the tarmac - 'only floating is better', apparently. However, this can also jack up the body by up to 80mm in a matter of tenths of a second in the event of an impending side impact, improving the safety aspect. On that score, the Driving Assistance Package includes predictive compliance with speed limits and, in the cabin, there's a 70-litre cylindrical rear airbag to protect second-row occupants. At the front of the car, Multibeam LED headlights can be upgraded to Digital Light. This uses two modules, one in each lamp cluster, that features three LEDs. That's not many, right? Ha! Well, the light from these is refracted by 1.3 million micro-mirrors on each side, resulting in a resolution of 2.6 million pixels per vehicle. Not only that, but Digital Light can project marking aids or warning symbols onto the road ahead of the S-Class, and this feature - as well as more than 50 other electronic components, including MBUX v2.0 - can be improved during ownership through over-the-air software updates. Finally, Drive Pilot (an option) is a semi-autonomous driving feature that should, in certain situations, allow the S-Class to drive itself for long periods of time. This will only be ratified legally in the second half of 2021, though.

Crikey! So, enough of the gigaflops and the like. Can you talk to me about some tech I'll understand?

All right. The W223, which is longer (with a stretched wheelbase), wider and taller than the W222 it replaces, has additional elbow- (+38mm front and +23mm rear) and headroom (+16mm rear) for occupants, while the boot space has grown by 20 litres to a maximum of 550 litres. The car cuts through the air with a slippery 0.22Cd figure, making it one of the most aerodynamic vehicles on sale right now despite its frontal area of 200sq cm. And there's extensive used of ecologically sound materials in the car's make-up, too.

Power at launch will come from six-cylinder engines, all inline units. For the diesels, the lovely S 350 d continues, with 286hp and 600Nm from its 2.9-litre powerplant. Drive can go to either the rear axle alone or all wheels through 4Matic, and it'll run 0-62mph in either 6.4 or 6.2 seconds, accordingly. All other models from this point are 4Matic only, with the other diesel being an uprated version of the 2.9 straight-six packing 330hp and 700Nm for S 400 d badging. Over on the petrol side of things, they're both EQ Boost hybrids, with an additional 16kW (22hp) and 250Nm of electrical assistance to throw in with the following stated outputs. Choose from the 367hp/500Nm S 450 or go for the 435hp/520Nm S 500, the latter of which will scurry from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds if required; all W223s are limited to a 155mph maximum speed, of course. There's also a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version on the way, some sort of development of the W222 S 560 e, on which there are precious few details right now save for this one salient fact: it'll do up to 62.5 miles on electric power alone. That's a huge increase on the old S 560 e and it makes it the PHEV with one of the greatest ranges in the industry, only being surpassed by the wonderful-but-niche Polestar 1. We look forward to hearing more about this one, as and when.

Matt Robinson - 2 Sep 2020

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.    - Mercedes-Benz road tests
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