The design of the S-Class has evolved for 2021. It retains the smooth surfacing and flowing lines of its predecessor but the latest model sees the debut of a striking new grille, slimmer headlights and new horizontally mounted taillights. Although the frontal area is slightly larger, aerodynamic drag has been reduced to a class-leading 0.22. Inside the sumptuous cabin, the front cockpit is dominated by a smooth sweep of centre console with a large portrait-format central touchscreen.


The new S-Class is currently offered with three six-cylinder powertrains (though a plug-in hybrid will be available soon). The 3.0-litre S 350d diesel delivers 286hp and 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds; its diesel stablemate the S 400d has the same capacity but extracts 330hp from it and hits the 0-62mph benchmark in 5.4 seconds. To go even faster you need the 435hp petrol-fuelled S 500, which sprints to 62mph in 4.9 seconds. All have a 9-speed automatic transmission, and if you want all-wheel drive your choice is restricted to the S 500 or S 400d.​


Mercedes-Benz always introduces new safety technology on the S-Class before it percolates down to other models, and the latest generation S-Class is no exception. Much of the safety focus is now on AI systems to aid the driver, and there’s a lot of programme names starting ‘Active’ such as active Blind Spot Assist, Active Braking Assist, Active Lane Changing Assist (and so on) which will proactively intervene to prevent an accident. A new capacitive steering wheel is better able to detect when a driver’s not holding the wheel and warn him or her to mend their ways.


It might be easier to ask what the S-Class doesn’t feature than try to list what it does. There are five trim levels, starting with AMG Line and progressing upwards via AMG Line Premium, Premium Executive and Premium Plus to the heady heights of Premium Plus Executive. If you want a long wheelbase model, your choice is restricted to the Premium Executive, Premium Plus and Premium Plus Executive trims. All models feature the MBUX Premium navigation system with 12.8-inch OLED central display (with fingerprint scanner to release individual settings) and 12.3-inch drivers display.

Other features – depending on the level you choose – include a 7-inch tablet for the rear seat passengers, augmented reality head-up display, fragrance diffusing air conditioning, massaging seats and a Burmester® 3D surround sound system with 15 speakers and 710 watts output. The AMG Line Premium Plus and Premium Plus Executive also feature Digital Light headlamps (with more than one million pixels per headlamp) that can turn night into day without dazzling oncoming road users.​