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New 2020 Mercedes S-Class promises interior tech revolution

New-generation version of MBUX infotainment system previewed, promising wholesale change for all inside the next Mercedes S-Class

This is our first look inside the all-new and radically redesigned Mercedes S-Class, ahead of the car’s official unveiling in September.

The new S-Class is the first car from Mercedes to feature the second-generation of the MBUX infotainment system, which can operate on up to five separate screens positioned around the cabin of the new luxury saloon. 

The main central touchscreen display of the S-Class is a 12.8-inch portrait style screen positioned on the dashboard and flowing into the centre console. It’s available with OLED technology borrowed and haptic feedback for tangible touches and swipes.

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It’s now a major hub for many vehicle functions and controls, and as a result, Mercedes has managed to remove 27 physical buttons, switches and controls from the dashboard of the next S-Class. The user interface has been completely redesigned, too. 

The next S-Class also gains a new digital instrument panel with three-dimensional effect graphics and selectable ambiences. A new head-up-display arrives with augmented reality features for navigation, giving the appearance of information and directions appearing ten metres ahead of the car. In the rear, two entertainment displays are fitted into the backrests of the front seats, while a removable table display is optional.

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Mercedes says that rear seat passengers have access to the exact same information and features as those in the front, and information can be shared seamlessly across every display in the car. 

The new Interior Assist feature of MBUX uses cameras in the overhead panel to interpret head, hand and body movements of those on board and automatically enable corresponding vehicle functions. 

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For instance, if the driver reaches over to the passenger seat to grab something at night, the light above the passenger seat will automatically switch on. Looking at a side mirror enables it to be adjusted without the need to select it with the traditional switch. Interior Assist also introduces safety touches such as detecting if a child seat is not correctly fastened, and combining with blind spot assist to monitor if a passenger tries to leave the car as another vehicle or object approaches, triggering the ambient lighting to pulse red. 

Voice control features have been updated with more natural language commands and features, while voice control is now possible from the rear as every seat in the car gets its own microphone. 

The second-generation MBUX system debuting in the next S-Class uses a new profile based personalisation system with space for up to seven profiles. These profiles store seating position, climate settings, favourite radio stations and even ambient lighting settings, applied to each seat in the vehicle. Linked to the Mercedes Me smartphone app, a scan of a QR code in the car is all it will take for the profile to be automatically downloaded onto the car, and this is a feature coming to all vehicles adopting the new MBUX setup in the future. 

Mercedes S-Class: exterior design 

As for the car’s design, a teaser shot has detailed an all-new nose, grille and headlights coming on the brand’s revitalised limousine. 

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The car’s look from the outside will be more an evolutionary step using some design cues already established on some of the brand’s more recent models. The overall profile of the saloon, its size and shape won’t change too much, while the front end is altered with what looks like a more flat-faced nose and smaller headlights flanking a new look grille.

While the latest official images of the infotainment system are revealing, a legitimate glimpse of what the dashboard as a whole will look like is still outstanding. 

Leaked images have suggested that the cabin will undergo a complete overhaul with an entirely new cockpit. The design changes with the introduction of a large, flat, two-tiered dashboard with two flat panes spanning the car’s width. Four square vents reminiscent of the climate vents on the GLS SUV sit at the top and in the centre, while the lower pane gets new vertical vents positioned in each corner. 

It’s likely that the S-Class’ powertrain line-up will comprise entirely of electrified options, comprising a mix of updated six-cylinder diesel and petrol options - some with 48-volt or plug-in hybrid assistance. Higher-powered V8 and V12 engines are also possible. 

An all-electric stablemate is in the offing and will be produced from the end of next year. The EQS, like other Mercedes EQ models, will be an all-electric interpretation of the combustion powered car with some similarities in design but purposefully marketed as a flagship model for the EQ electric car line-up, and capable of up to 310 miles on a single charge.

Now read our in-depth review of the current Mercedes S-Class here

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