Mercedes-Benz S-Class has pretty much always been -- since its introduction -- the gold standard for what a luxury car should be. Not only that, but it has consistently moved the goalpost for what luxury is going to mean in the future.
That's why it's such a big deal that Mercedes showed uncamouflaged photos of the forthcoming Sonderklasse's interior on Wednesday. It's a pretty sure bet that what the S-Class does today, the rest of the industry will do in a couple of years.
With that in mind, what exactly are we looking at? Mercedes now considers the S-Class to be a "third space," meaning a place of refuge between home and office. To enhance this notion, it's made the interior of the big sedan even more spacious and comfortable. That is achieved partly through a design that was inspired by luxury yachts.
That yacht influence is felt most prominently in the dashboard's design, with its vast and almost totally unbroken wood plane. This lowers the dash visually and helps make the interior feel more airy and open. It's a pretty bold move, and given that (at least in these press photos) it's executed in Mercedes' typically beautiful woodwork, it really looks like it will be a special place in which to spend time.
From a technological standpoint, things are pretty next-level too. Mercedes is taking the concept of interior LED lighting, for example, and transforming it from mostly a novelty into something useful. The lighting will change to reflect your climate control choices and even work in concert with your blind-spot monitoring system. To really make the lighting stand out, Mercedes has increased its brightness by tenfold, which means that it should be readily visible even in daylight.
"Our S-Class customers are highly discerning. With the new S-Class, we invite them into a completely new luxury experience," said Hartmut Sinkwitz, Mercedes' head of interior design, in a statement. "It is underscored by our 'Sensual Purity' design philosophy and our absolute commitment to quality and attention to detail. The result is a revolutionary interior experience caught between digital and analog luxury."
Other Mercedes features that we know (and sometimes love) like the Air Balance package return as standard equipment. That means that the in-cabin fragrance is back, for better or worse, with a scent that's unique to the S-Class (sorrows of the proletariat, maybe?). In slightly more practical news, Mercedes also has an automatic height-based seat adjustment program. You input your height and it finds the ideal seating position -- at 6 feet, 4 inches, I'll have to test that out. It also adjusts the steering wheel and side mirrors to suit.
There's even more going on with the S-Class' seats too. For example, there are speakers in or around the front headrests ---- for improved sound, and the rear seat headrests have neck warmers. Mercedes is also proud of its kinetic seat adjustment programs that make slight adjustments to the seating position to increase blood flow and alertness on long drives.
We expect the rest of the interior to be made -- as usual -- from world-class materials like super soft perforated and quilted leather, real wood, real metal and the like. Mercedes doesn't typically bungle this stuff on its more expensive vehicles. Apart from the interior, there's still a great deal about the new S-Class that we don't know, but we're excited to find out more in the coming months.