The all-new Mercedes S-class arrives in June 2013. These new spy shots give the clearest indication yet of the big Benz's styling, including the undisguised shape of the front grille, clearly inspired by the 2008 F700 concept car’s.
It's what's under the body that's always put the S-class at the top of the limo tree though, and the new car's set to maintain that standard. Here's CAR's definitive round-up of the six S-class breakthroughs you can expect this summer.
1. Four different saloon sizes this time
Sure, there'll be a regular saloon and long-wheelbase S-class, but that's not enough these days. Not with Chinese buyers clamouring over stretched European saloons, and not now the misguided Maybach is no more.
So, we'll also see super-stretched 'Pullman' versions, able to seat up to six people, thanks to a massive 6500mm length. This is no MPV-style six-seater, though: the two extra seats will be rear-facing chairs which fold away when unused (like in a London black cab). Splitting the gap between the Pullman and a LWB S-class will be an extra-long wheelbase S-class, squaring up to the Rolls-Royce Ghost with masses of legroom for the separate rear seats.
2. It'll ride like no other car
We're used to adaptive suspension the driver can tailor, but a car setting itself up? Thanks to 'Magic Ride Control' (seriously, that's Merc's official name) the new S-class will do just that. Forward-facing cameras scan the road ahead and alter the S-class' damping rates according to the surface, all automatically of course.
3. The S-class has no lightbulbs
Sounds weird, but the new S-class really doesn't have conventional lightbulbs anywhere in the car. The car's light clusters are all-LED front and rear, and they're clever, too: the front units auto-dim for oncoming traffic and can 'spotlight' pedestrians and wildlife at night to alert the driver. Meanwhile, the rear lights vary their intensity in bright ambient light to cut down on power consumption. The all-LED lights reduce CO2 output by 2.1g/km, says Mercedes.
4. The S-class can actually 'see' like a human
A seeing car is the stuff of science-fiction? Apparently not. The S-class introduces 3D 'Stereo Multi-Purpose Cameras' which can scan up to 500mm ahead of the car. The camera's eyes create a layered 3D image which identifies potential hazards like errant pedestrians, animals and street furniture. Fail to react and the S-class warns the driver, can flash its headlights and even brake itself to a complete stop without the distracted pilot breaking sweat.
For CAR's scoop of the new Mercedes S-class interior, click here.
5. At times, the new S-class will completely drive itself
Forget radar-guided cruise control and infra-red sensors: those were headlines on the old S-class. The new S will not only follow traffic ahead and brake itself, but execute its own lane changes and overtakes thanks to six-on board radars. Plus, active steering and 'Lane Keep Assist' stop the driver drifting out of lane, keep the car straight, and give drivers eyes in the back of their head should a fellow road-user attempt an ill-advised undertake manoeuvre.
6. Choose from a four-cylinder hybrid to a 680bhp V12
Go hybrid and there'll be three different tiers of electric motor assistance: slugs of 41bhp, 61bhp and 109bhp slug, in addition to internal combustion power. The current V6s will be retuned for the new car, but bow out in 2017 for even more frugal straight-six motors. And for the top AMG model, you'll get a bi-turbo V12 with 680bhp. That's supercar power, and the S65 AMG will get supercar materials to match: the bonnet, bootlid, roof and doors will all be carbonfibre to keep the weight down.
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