Lucky number seven for the Sonderklasse

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the German automaker’s tip of the spear when it comes to luxury and opulence, offering the very latest in technology, styling, and interior features. With a history that dates back to the early ‘70s, the latest sixth generation for the flagship sedan model (also known as the W222) was introduced back in 2013, which means it’s time for a ground-up redesign. With that in mind, we pulled out the TopSpeed crystal ball, drew up the above-pictured rendering, and wrote up a speculative review on what exactly the next S-Class could be bringing to the table.

Update 04/08/2019: The 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was caught doing some spring testing and this time around it has dropped a lot of the fake plastic that was protecting its true appearance. Check out our latest update in the spy shots section below

Spy Shots

April 8, 2019 – Spring Testing With Lots of Camo and Less Plastic

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior Spyshots
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2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior Spyshots
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At a glance, the prototype you see here is quite similar to the model we saw back in February, but if you look close enough, you’ll see that the only plastic remaining is on the hood and around the grille – and maybe a little on the bottom of the doors. With that said, we can’t tell much about the front grille, but we now know that the new S-Class will have electric door handles as well as full matrix LED headlights in the front and rear. The rear lights, as a matter of fact, will mimic those of the CLS and will have moving indicators like those found on most Audi models. If there isn’t plastic on the bottom of the doors, the new S-Class could feature a rather spritely and aggressive side profile. But, it’s not just the outside that we’re looking at today. We also got a good look at the interior and boy is it mind-blowing.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Interior
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We were expecting the typical Mercedes horizontal dual-screen layout, however, the new S-Class looks like it will sport a Tesla-like monitor that’s oriented vertically instead of horizontally. This will give the cabin an all-new look, and it will be rather void most physical buttons. This should become the new standard for Mercedes models over the next five years or so.

February 14, 2019 - Testing in the Cold With New LED Headlights

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior Spyshots
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2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior Spyshots
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It’s pretty clear that Mercedes wants to keep most of the headlights under wraps but, due to the driver’s need to see, we’ve at least gotten a good look at the LED units themselves. It looks like there will be a 4x4 arrangement of LEDs for the main beams and a set of motion LEDs that will serve as both turn signals and running lights. We can’t see the overall design of the headlight, but that doesn’t matter because it won’t change much — it’s what’s inside that counts. The rest of the car has gone untouched, and a debut is pretty imminent. Expect to see the camo come off at the European round of auto shows. It’s possible that it will debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show or the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior

  • Updated exterior styling
  • Looks more aggressive
  • Still gets that “land yacht” demeanor
  • LED lighting throughout
  • Wheel sizing up to 20 inches
  • Only the four-door body style offered
  • Larger exterior dimensions than before
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior Spyshots
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The front end will gain a more aggressive fascia, with new headlight housings, a new grill, and larger lower intakes.

The exterior styling that the new S-Class is bringing is critical for Mercedes, as it shows off the brand’s latest styling chops and sets the tone for future model styling updates. And while Mercedes does offer a variety of concept cars for inspiration, the production version will inevitably be more “production friendly.”

That said, we don’t think the new S-Class will look boring - quite the opposite in fact. The front end will most likely gain a more aggressive fascia, similar to what we see on the latest CLS and A-Class, with new headlight housings reshaped into a slimmer design and drawn-back shape, C-shaped daytime running lights, a new grille with a hexagonal shape, and larger lower intakes. The look is low and streamlined, and definitely adds an extra bit of zest to the otherwise refined Mercedes aesthetic. And don’t forget the polished three-star badge on the hood, either.

Moving into the flanks we find the traditional three-box profile, although the hood line is a bit longer and gets short overhangs, while the rear trunk is extended outward with long overhangs. The window line is curved upwards towards the B-pillar and uses chrome strips for the flourish, while the sideview mirrors are offset in black and utilize integrated LED turn signals. Factory wheel sizing will start at 18 inches and range up to 20 inches in diameter.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Exterior
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The 2020 S-Class is expected to plump a bit dimensionally speaking, adding extra width, length, and hoodline.

In the back, we expect the S-Class to get a squared-off tail with copious horizontal design elements, plus sharp taillights in the corners and twin tailpipes. Additional chrome and black trim will be added in the usual spots. LED lighting will be used throughout, including new LED taillights.

Beyond the fresh aesthetic, the 2020 S-Class will only be available as a four-door sedan, while the existing S-Class Coupe two-door and S-Class Cabriolet convertible will get the axe with the generational changeover. Merc hopes the move will simplify its lineup offerings, and besides, a car this big definitely needs more than just two doors.

Speaking of size, the 2020 S-Class is expected to plump a bit dimensionally speaking, adding extra girth compared to the current model in terms of width, length, and hoodline length. The height will also see a slight decrease to give it that extra sporty demeanor. And don’t forget model variants like the long wheelbase Maybach and Pullman models, both of which will add even more size to the thing.

As a reference, the current S-Class measurements can be found below.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class exterior measurements Short WB Long WB
Wheelbase 3,035 mm (119.5 inches) 3,165 mm (124.6 inches)
Length 5,116 mm (201.4 inches) 5,246 mm (206.5 inches)
Width 1,899 mm (74.8 inches) 1,899 mm (74.8 inches)
Height 1,496 mm (58.9 inches) 1,496 mm (58.9 inches)

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Interior

  • Horizontal design elements
  • Fresh design
  • Very latest infotainment and safety tech
  • Wood, aluminum, and piano black trim bits
  • Four seats maximum
  • 2+2 seating also a possibility
  • Digital gauge cluster
  • Large infotainment screen
  • Level 3 autonomous capability
  • Larger interior space as well
2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior pictured here.

The interior of the S-Class is really where Merc’s claim to luxury greatness starts.

Without a doubt, the S-Class’ greatest strength has to be its interior. From the opulent feel, to the cutting-edge technology, to the expensive materials, this is the place where Merc’s claim to luxury greatness really starts, as the S-Class leads the charge for the rest of the German automaker’s lineup.

Like its exterior, the new S-Class will offer a brand-new interior spec as well, rocking a fresh aesthetic to coincide with the generational changeover. The design will likely incorporate further horizontal elements, with top-shelf material strips reaching around from the dash and into the doors. Rear-seated passengers will get their own infotainment goodies to play with, while soft-touch upholstery will decorate just about every surface not already finished in wood, piano black lacquer, or aluminum trim.

While four seats will be standard (two in front and two in the rear), it’s also possible Merc will offer an SL model with a 2+2 seating arrangement.

On the infotainment front, expect to see a heads-up display for the driver, complemented by an ultra-wide digital gauge display (otherwise known as a digital cockpit) just behind the hide-covered and wood-trimmed steering wheel. The MBUX infotainment system will once again see use, as previewed by the current A-Class.

And while these are all features we expect to see on the current model, the seventh-gen will also bring a host of new infotainment and technology upgrades, all of which are expected to see use across Merc’s lineup in the years following their debut on the S-Class.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Interior
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Most notably, the S-Class will bring with it ever-higher levels of autonomy, with Level 3 capabilities making the rounds in the rumor mill.

Most notably, the S-Class will also bring with it ever-higher levels of autonomy, which makes a lot of sense when you consider that Audi just released Level 3 features with the 2019 A8, one of the S-Class’ chief rivals.

The S-Class currently offers stuff like Distronic active cruise control and Active Steer Assist, both of which will see significant updates. That said, we’re excited to see how close the S-Class will get to full autonomy, a goal which Mercedes says it’s been chasing for years now. Merc is calling its system Drive Pilot, and it also comes equipped on the E-Class. However, expect to see the latest advances on Merc’s hugely expensive flagship sedan before the rest of the range.

Finally, the S-Class’ larger exterior dimensions will translate into an expanded cabin space as well, with even more room for both front and rear passengers (but especially in the rear. In fact, Merc could very well sacrifice front space in favor of even more space in back).

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Drivetrain

  • More power, lower fuel consumption
  • Three engine options possible
  • Six-cylinder, eight-cylinder, 12-cylinder
  • Each option might get a mild hybrid upgrade
  • Nine-speed automatic gearbox across the range
  • RWD as standard, AWD as an available option
  • All-electric model also a possibility
  • New architecture underneath
  • Lower weight
  • Adaptive suspension components
2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
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Mounted in front will be either a turbo six-cylinder, a turbo eight-cylinder, or (fingers crossed) a fire-breathing twin-turbo V-12.

Under the hood, we expect the S-Class to once again offer up to three engine specs, each of which will get more power and lower fuel consumption than their current equivalents. A nine-speed automatic will be the transmission du jour across the lineup, while RWD will come as standard with 4Matic AWD will be offered as an available option.

Mounted in front will be either a turbocharged six-cylinder, a turbocharged eight-cylinder, or (fingers crossed) a fire-breathing twin-turbo V-12, the latter of which will only see availability on the top-trim AMG models.

As a benchmark, the current engine lineup for the S-Class includes a 3.0-liter V-6 making 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, a 4.0-liter V-8 making 463 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, and a 6.0-liter V-12 making 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque

Rumor has it the current twin-turbo V-6 will get replaced by a new, ultra-silky-smooth turbo inline six-cylinder, with upwards of 3.0 liters of displacement and extra power compared to the current V-6 unit.

When it comes to mpg, the efficiency should be as high as ever, especially with a standard start-stop system on board.

Also look for a return of the hybrid S-Class model, which could very well get a little battery-powered assistance through the use of an electric motor mounted inside the transmission, plus a 48-volt electrical system.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
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As Merc moves closer and closer to its goals of expanded hybrid efficiency, every S-Class could come with some sort of mild hybridization.

In fact, as Merc moves closer and closer to its goals of expanded hybrid efficiency, every model in the S-Class lineup could come with some sort of mild hybridization. There might even be a plug-in model on the table.

For reference, the recently revealed Mercedes-Benz S 560e model mates a turbo 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor powered by a 13.5-kWh battery, which combine to create 362 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque, and a sub-5-second 0-to-60 mph time. It’ll also go a distance of 31 miles when operating in its no-emission all-electric driving mode.

It’s even possible Mercedes is mulling the idea of an all-electric S-Class as well, although it’s unlikely given the advances required for Merc to make it work properly for the segment. Electric vehicles are definitely where things are headed, but the problems for now include the convenience factor (long recharge times, low range, etc.) and the space required (large battery packs tend to take up some of that critical interior room), both of which just don’t harmonize well with the S-Class’ attitude.

Under the skin, the new S-Class will be rocking an all-new platform courtesy of Merc’s latest MRA architecture. Managing the car’s substantial heft will be standard Magic Body Control suspension, which actively scans the road ahead for aberrations, anticipating jolts with damper changes to smooth out the ride. Finally, we think the new S-Class will shed a bit of its weight, despite the increase in exterior dimensions.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Prices

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
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Look for the debut of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class next year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with an on-sale date to follow soon thereafter.

Pricing should start at around $90,000, given the current model starts at $89,900 for the V-6 powered S 450.

2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Competition

Audi A8

2018 Audi A8 High Resolution Exterior
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Like we mentioned in the Interior section, the Audi A8 is one the Mercedes S-Class’ chief rivals. The Four-Ring brand revealed the latest model update just last year, bringing some very tasty upgrades along the way. On the tech front is a new autonomous system that combines visual cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and lidar to enable the four-door to drive itself at speeds up to 37 mph. Throw in a sumptuous interior spec, active suspension components, and upwards of 460 horsepower from a turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 (plus the available hybrid system combo), the Audi A8 is not the sort of competition Mercedes should take lightly.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A8.

BMW 7 Series

2016 BMW 7 Series High Resolution Exterior
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Big, bad, and beautiful - these are the descriptors often tagged to the large-and-in-charge BMW 7 Series. The latest sixth generation dropped in 2016, and although it’s in need of a refresh to hang with the S-Class, it’s still got the goods to play in this segment for now. We’re digging the styling, as it definitely plays well to the full-size sedan aesthetic, while the engine options include 320 horsepower from a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, 445 horsepower from a turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8, and at the top of the heap, 601 horsepower from a turbocharged V-12. There’s even a hybrid, if that’s more your style. Tech features are plentiful as well, including a self-park mode.

Read our full review on the 2016 BMW 7 Series.


2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior Exclusive Renderings Spyshots Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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We’re definitely looking forward to whatever Merc has planned for the upcoming S-Class, but at the very least, we’re expecting the very best in top-shelf three-star luxury wrapped in a large, four-door package. And although the next-generation won’t be arriving for at least the next few years or so, a camo-clad S-Class-shaped test must was recently spied out and about on public roads, so we do know it’s on the way.

Stay tuned.

  • Leave it
    • Will cost a pretty penny, especially with options
    • Did Audi already beat Merc in the autonomous game?
    • Still several years away


2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

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Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

Update History

Update 02/14/2019: We’ve received new spy shots of the 2020 Mercedes S-Class and, while it hasn’t dropped any camo, it has evolved to include new, production-ready LED headlights. Check them out in our spy shots section below!

Jonathan Lopez
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