2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review: First Drive

Published on 1 August, 2021

There’s no disputing the fact that the S-Class has always been the touchstone against which virtually every other luxury sedan is judged. Part of the reason for this is also the fact that the S-Class, today, has become an immensely strong sub-brand in itself. It sells not only because it’s the flagship sedan of the Mercedes line-up but also because it’s the S-Class, and that’s what customers desire.

Now, over the years, the S has successfully shouldered another responsibility – that of being a vehicle for showcasing future technologies. For example, the first production vehicle to be equipped with electronic ABS was the W116 S-Class, way back in 1978. Of course, technology has been moving at a frantic pace in the past few decades, and with the new generation of the S, Mercedes is once again looking to take the benchmark in the luxury sedan segment to an all-new high.

Now, with the title of the ‘best luxury sedan in the world’ and the promise of the latest tech and unparalleled prestige come high expectations. This brings us to a simple but important question – does the new S-Class live up to the expectations?

Sharp and Chiselled

Compared to the past two generations of the S-Class, the new W223 makes a significant leap in terms of design. While the new design is still an evolved version of Mercedes’ current design language, it nonetheless makes the new S look more chiselled and lean, thanks to the sharper lines.

In profile, the sharp sides and swooping roofline give the S a sense of elegance. The front is dominated by a large chrome grille, with the three-pointed star sitting proudly on the bonnet. The large headlamps are nicely shaped and sport an angular design, which gives the car an aerodynamic look.

Interestingly, all the launch edition versions of the S are CBUs and come equipped with an AMG body kit and AMG wheels as standard. All this, obviously, influences the S’ appearance – the large air dam and chrome highlights, which are tastefully done, give the front a very imposing look. The multi-spoke wheels also look superb and give the S a very balanced stance.

The rear is dominated by a large chrome strip that sits horizontally across the width, while large triangular taillights – all-LED, of course – with spectacular details further embellish the rear. Another highlight of the exterior is the flush door handles, which are now recessed into the doors; however, as soon as you approach the car with the key, they smoothly slide out – very slick, indeed! Overall, the new S looks very sharp and slimmer than the slightly bulbous appearance of the older-generation cars and has a very imposing presence on the road.

Techno Dream

While the new S’ exterior design has been updated, there are no surprises there. In other words, the exterior design update doesn’t bring anything revolutionary. But all that changes the moment you enter the car, for it’s in the interior that the incredible futuristic transformation of the new S really lies.

The first thing that grabs your attention is the massive 12.8-inch multimedia touchscreen, mounted bang in the middle of the massive dashboard. It truly looks brilliant. Since it’s an OLED screen, its resolution is unmatched, and, of course, the size also helps. Given the massive size of the screen, most traditional buttons and controls no longer exist in the S, as most functions are controlled via the touchscreen. A small range of physical buttons do exist at the bottom of the screen, but they only control a few functions.

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