First ride: 2020 Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype

These advanced underpinnings will be offered alongside a newly developed Airmatic air suspension as standard. Now based on the second-generation version of Mercedes’ MRA platform, the S-Class will again offer three different wheelbases: standard, long and extended. Also like its predecessor, it will be sold in Benz, AMG, Maybach and Pullman forms. However, both the S-Class Coupé and S-Class Cabriolet won’t be replaced, victims of a range of cost-cutting measures initiated by new Mercedes chairman Ola Källenius.

Autocar can confirm the standard-wheelbase S-Class has been extended by 71mm to 3106mm, while the long-wheelbase car has grown by 51mm to 3216mm, giving the new saloons larger cabins with greater accommodation. Weissinger (who also heads development of the upcoming electric EQS) claims a “nearto-60% aluminium content” in the body of the new S-Class makes it “considerably lighter” than the model it will replace.

Also contributing to greater fuel efficiency is a series of aerodynamic developments, including the adoption of flush door handles, that are said to give the S-Class a class-leading drag coefficient of just 0.22Cd.

Weissinger said: “When you develop a car that has traditionally been described as the best car in the world, you have to work on every small detail. There are improvements in every area of its design.”

Mercedes is yet to announce the engines for the S-Class, but Autocar can confirm that it will receive both turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six and twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol units in mild-hybrid form with a 48V integrated starter-motor. Also available from the start of UK sales will be a 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel engine.

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Weissinger revealed that new S-Class will continue to offer the 6.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V12 as well, albeit only in Maybach-badged models.

The sole plug-in hybrid at first will be the S580e. This uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine in combination with a gearbox-mounted electric motor and the 31.2Wh lithium ion battery from the GLE 350de, giving it a claimed electric-only range of more than 62 miles.

The exterior represents an evolution of today’s car, with new detailing, a bolder looking grille and horizontal tail-lights that, in a first for the S-Class, extend into the bootlid.



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