2021 Mercedes S-Class partially leaked in social media shots

Hybrid-only seventh-gen S-Class is due to be unveiled this year, but Instagram shots appear to show the model with almost no disguise inside and out.

Mercedes-Benz is due to unveil its new S-Class flagship later this year, but the luxury saloon has leaked out with almost no disguise in images posted on social media.

The low-res shots appear to show a pre production car in unglamorous surroundings with small strips of disguise over the front-end. The rear and interior are completely undisguised, bar protective wrapping left on the car’s seats.

Despite not being the clearest shots, we can see the BMQ 7 Series rival takes an evolutionary approach to the exterior redesign, with a similarly curvy look to today’s car. The rear lights take inspiration from that of the latest-generation CLS.

The interior takes a more radical step forward, with a greater emphasis on technology. The minimalist dashboard is dominated by a Tesla-style portrait display is significantly larger than any screen Mercedes has offered in previous models, paired with a freestanding digital instrument display.

A spy photographer previously managed to point their lens inside a prototype for detail shots, showing the bottom half of it is dedicated to the limo’s climate control functions, with touch-capacitive shortcut buttons below.

It’s likely further updates to the company’s already new MBUX user interface will boost features and usability, while the brand’s trademark digital dials are also visible.

The seventh-generation S-Class looks set to regain its place at the forefront of the brand’s technical know-how, with a range of new electrified powertrains and advanced driver assist features. Comfort and technology levels will take a boost, with the target of lifting it beyond rivals such as the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series.

The new Mercedes flagship has been developed to support two distinctly different saloon models for the first time. While standard versions are set to receive a range of plug-in hybrid drivetrains, the German car maker also plans to introduce an aerodynamically optimised pure-electric version that, insiders say, will serve as the flagship model for its new EQ electric vehicle sub-brand.

Badged EQ S, the new model will offer a claimed range in excess of 500 kilometres of range when it goes on sale in 2022. Plug-in hybrid versions of the S-Class will feature part-time zero-emission capability for distances of up to 62 miles, together with the option of a newly developed 4Matic four-wheel drive system with fully variable apportioning of drive between the front and rear axles.

The EQ S forms part of Mercedes’ AUD$17 billion programme to introduce more than 10 dedicated electric vehicles to the UK market within the next six years.

In a further change, it is believed that Mercedes-Benz has decided to do away with its long tradition of offering the standard S-Class, which goes under the internal codename W223, with two different wheelbases. Nothing is official at this stage, but it is understood that the growth of the E-Class to a length of 4920mm is behind a decision to produce the new S-Class exclusively in long-wheelbase guise, with the car measuring around 5280mm in length.

However, while the standard S-Class sits on the MRA platform, the more technically advanced four-wheel-drive EQ S will be the first Mercedes-Benz model to be based on the new Modular Electric Architecture (MEA) platform. Unlike the structures being developed to underpin smaller EQ models, it is not based on an existing platform but has been developed as dedicated EV architecture with a flat floor to house batteries.

The drivelines set to power hybrid versions of the new S-Class are based around Mercedes’ latest 3.0-litre and 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and the AMG-developed 4.0-litre V8, all of which operate in combination with a disc-shaped electric motor housed within the automatic gearbox and a lithium ion battery located in the boot floor.

The pure-electric EQ S is set to receive two electric motors – one acting on the front axle and the other driving the rear – providing permanent four-wheel drive in all variants. In the upcoming EQ C, this set-up delivers more than 300kW and some 700Nm, although engineers involved on the development of the EQ S suggest it will offer even greater levels of power and torque, with a planned AMG performance model earmarked to produce more than 450kW.

Despite the differing platforms, both the standard S-Class and the EQ S are set to share the same active suspension system. A development of the existing S-Class’s AirMatic+ system, it works in combination with a 48V electrical architecture and a stereo camera that scans the road ahead to adjust the spring and damper action on each wheel, allowing it to not only counteract body lean in corners but also to better control pitch.

Stylistically, the new S-Class is claimed to break new ground with a lineage that Mercedes-Benz design studio sources say will influence a whole new generation of models. Recent prototype spy shots preview a design that will feature distinctive tri-band LED multibeam headlights, a new interpretation of the classic Mercedes-Benz grille and door handles that retract back into the bodywork to help improve aerodynamic properties.

It is understood that the EQ S will adopt its own distinct styling. Reflecting the packaging advantages inherent in electric vehicles, the EQ S will receive a shorter bonnet and more heavily raked windscreen than the standard version of the new S-Class, similar to that of the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

Greg Kable

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