What awaits us for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS

By | March 31, 2024

What awaits us for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQSCar and Driver and Mercedes-Benz – Car and Driver

  • Here’s what we know so far: The Mercedes-Benz EQS will get a facelift and switch to a faster-charging 800-volt architecture at the end of next year.

  • An all-new, more conventionally styled and roomier EQS replacement is planned for early 2028.

  • The S-class luxury sedan and its Maybach spin-off will undergo two updates before finally being retired in 2033.

The goalkeepers of the three-pointed star once called out Electric Only’s goal. But now, in the wake of a slowdown in electric vehicle adoption in key Western markets, the new mission is Electric First. And Mercedes is not alone. Although the European Parliament has just confirmed its decision to end sales of new passenger cars with internal combustion engines by 2035, China, now the world’s largest luxury car market, has extended the grace period for ICE until 2060 (but this only applies to alternative fuels such as hydrogen, biofuels and synthetic renewable energy sources). As a result, Mercedes will likely continue building combustion engines for decades to come.

In parallel, the Germans will also do everything they can to consolidate their leading position in the luxury segment. The plan includes strengthening the Manufaktur division, which is expected to take personalization to a new level; the further evolution of the Maybach brand; and a big boost to AMG, which is readying some all-electric Porsche fighters.

EQS updates and changes

Mercedes-Benz’s standard bearer in the field of luxury sedans is of course the S-class, now in its seventh generation and still going strong. The electric version, the EQS, is struggling to keep up. This battery-powered, low-drag pioneer is a nice first effort – and was the first home of the Hyperscreen and other digital wizardry – but it misses the 10 out of 10 in several key areas, including appearance, packaging and driver appeal. Solutions are in the works, but they can only cure the symptoms and not correct the essential evil.

Within a few months, a minor update will introduce more comfortable Executive rear seats, a more prestigious triple grille with black panels and a more powerful 118.0 kWh battery. At the end of next year, the electric sedan will be updated from the 400-volt to an 800-volt system, which should provide faster charging and a greater range. Other means to this end include a switch from Valeo e-motors to Merc’s own eATS 2.0 units, a more relaxed rev-reducing two-speed transmission and the more efficient cell chemistry of the smaller MMA components that underpin the new CLA.

Mercedes’ original intention was to replace the EQS and the S-class with a joint all-new, fully electric model in 2028. But the market seems to have other ideas. Still due for retirement in four years, the EQS will be replaced by an all-new design that revives the traditional three-box sedan proportions. Like the BMW i7, it will reportedly feature a five-star rear passenger compartment with all the trimmings. Just like a Bentley, the interior combines digital must-haves with authentic materials and real craftsmanship for a first-class perceived quality. Just like a Rolls, it can be customized from top to bottom.

Mercedes also plans to personalize the lighting and sound experience, make multi-room adaptive seating available and reintroduce buttons, dials and switches for the most essential functions. Lead interior designer Hartmut Sinkwitz notes: “Intuitive ergonomics will return, but I’m not saying analog is the new digital. Instead, we’re going to give customers the best of both worlds.”

The next EQS, called V580, is based on MB.EA-L, the largest size of the brand’s new electric architecture, which will debut in the 2026 GLC. All MB.EA products will feature a new grille, inspired by the more upright proportions that have been an untouchable Mercedes trademark for decades. The three-pointed star also looms larger than ever, be it on the bonnet, in the grille or as a stylized multi-mode front and rear light element. A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, responded Car and driver: “Let’s face it, the EQS has always been seen by our customers more as a stretched E-class than a true S-class. The follow-up model must under-promise and over-deliver, otherwise even newcomers like Lucid and Yangwang will leave us eat it for breakfast. And that will happen.’

S-Class facelifts on the horizon

But unlike the 7 Series, which can be either ICE-powered or EV, the V580 EQS and the current S-Class should co-exist for years to come. The S-class will be facelifted in 2026 and then again in 2029, three years before the end of production. The first update is not just a job, but a more drastic operation that affects the front and rear as well as the cockpit. We expect new bumpers, mirrors, wheels, lights and an illuminated grille with a new look that can display a variety of themes from festive to dynamic – some only when the car is stationary, others also while driving.

The even more stylish interior features a redesigned dashboard with a revised multi-mode hyperscreen and a large optional passenger display. You can still have that busy four-spoke steering wheel, but some of the notoriously vague touch sliders will be replaced by capacitive buttons and more precise thumb wheels.

In any case, the double facelift shows that there is still life in the old dog. And who knows, unless EV adoption stages a quick comeback, we might even see an encore for the venerable ICE-powered sedan.

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