CAR's spies have exposed the 2012 Mercedes S-class interior, shown here completely unmasked.
It's a chance for a good look at the design direction likely to filter down to other future Mercs, and gives us some clues on the tech fitted to the new S-class.
Is this really the 2013 Merc S-class interior?
You'd better believe it. Immediately you'll spot the move to multiple circular vents rather than the current car's rectangular layout; naturally the vents are chromed and inset in a large slab of wood.
We can also see the fully digitised instrument display makes a return in the new S-class, allowing the dials to flip between different tasks: one minute they'll show 'analogue' style dials, the next they can flip to sat-nav commands or swapped altogether for an infra-red display to peer into the night.
The infotainment screen atop the dash centre has swelled to an almost cinematic size. Mercedes has decluttered the once button-festooned S-class, by concentrating its functions in the display, operated via the central 'Comand' control. Clearly integrated with a personal music library, these pictures offer a surprise insight into the listening habits of the lesser-spotted Mercedes test driver - seems they like listening to reggae and Bob Marley while they meet those Merc benchmarks.
Mercedes S-class: the centre controls
All Mercedes models now depend on the Comand system to perform infotainment duties, accessed by a central rotary click-button twinned with ever-larger touchscreens. In the S-class, Mercedes has grouped other controls around this handily ergonomic position. We can see buttons for altering the ride height, and switching the gearbox between sport and economy mode. Mercedes have reputedly been testing a nine-speed transmission for ultimate smoothness and economy capability, and if that 'box gets the nod, it'll be the S-class that gets it first.
The 'Sport/Comf' button will allow drivers to tailor the suspension, which already looks to be a techno tour de force in the 2013 S-class. It'll feature the delightfully monickered 'Magic Body Control,' which employs cameras and sensors in the car's nose to monitor the road ahead for bumps, and then vary the damping rate accordingly.
Any other S-class news?
One last word on the interior: the steering may be well appointed, but that metallic flourish around the lower half appears to bear a rather unfortunate resemblance to the Kia Picanto's wheel. That's more likely to be an unhappy coincidence than a direct inspiration.
The big S borrows a trick from the SLK too, with 'Magic Sky Control' - essentially a glass roof panel with a variable tint controlled by occupants. For ever further luxury, CAR understands there'll be a streched 'Pullman' iteration, with enough length to accommodate six passengers on foldaway rear-facing chairs.