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2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class cabin preview – smarter than ever

John Law

Ahead of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class world debut, the German luxury brand has unveiled the technology and features that they hope will once-again thrust them above the competition for comfort and convenience.

This is the second generation of MBUX, the system that found its home in the mid-life refresh of the C-Class and all-new A-Class, doing away almost entirely with analogue dials and displays in favour of customisable digital screens.

Naturally, the new S-Class will take this to a whole new level when it arrives. Mercedes-Benz touts the ability to review presentations on the way to a meeting or “while away the long drive home with the latest online films”.

2021 S-Class MBUX rear-seat
The new S-Class can have up to 3 screens back there!

Now some more sceptical people may say – “why not just bring along your own tablet?”. To that Mercedes-Benz retorts with extended voice commands, and the streamlining of specific in-car controls – for example dropping the awkward “hey Mercedes” from some commands.

But the S-Class is really all about the back seat – not unlike the Lexus LS500 Inspiration Series (reviewed here) with its in-built ottoman and reclining back row, the S-Class brings the full MBUX user interface to the rear quarters.

It’s been done to varying degrees in the past, but it appears Mercedes-Benz is going all-in for the latest S-Class, citing the needs of high-flying business-people in China and the USA who prefer the chauffeur experience.

2021 S-Class MBUX Driver's display Sport
The driver isn’t left out, though.

In front of the driver sits the established OLED display that incorporates information about the task at hand – speed, RPM, fuel consumption etc. In the second-gen MBUX system, Mercedes has included four display styles – Sporty, Discrete, Exclusive and Classic.

Along with the display styles, there are three further modes including displays of navigation, assistance or service, depending on the setting.

Further enhancing the ease of driving is a brace of head-up display options. Primarily an augmented reality system that incorporates 3D tech to display navigation directions and other information over a 77-inch display area. Cool.

2021 S-Class MBUX Driver's display
A more relaxing read-out for the drive home.

There will be a regular HUD with more general information about speed, RPM, gear and navigation, too, presumably on lower-spec models.

Additionally there will be up to five OLED displays on any given S-Class, with a maximum of three in the back. The front seat boasts a generously-sized portrait oriented touchscreen as the command centre – not unlike those found in the latest crop of Volvos.

It’s a trend that keeps growing, the intelligent voice commands, and for the S-Class the “hey, Mercedes functionality has been expanded. That means your near $400,000 Mercedes-Benz will be able to settle pub arguments about animal noises, or fastest-car debates.

2021 S-Class MBUX Screen 1
A portrait-oriented central screen is still the command centre up front.

There are more useful attributes promised, including smart home integration, allowing owners to set the heating or cooling to begin on their way back from the office.

Further features include a smart occupant exit warning, cameras can detect when a door is about to open and cross-reference with rear-view cameras to spot vehicles coming along the road. If a car is detected, for example, the ambient lighting will flash red to alert the occupant of the danger.

Further ease-of-use tech extends to an intelligent rear sunblind that will lower itself if it detects the driver turning their head, and hand gesture operations for the sunroof operation.

2018 Mercedes-AMG S-Class interior
Compare that to this previous-gen S-Class with the original MBUX system.

Further easing the carrying-out of commerce, the S-Class will integrate PIN, fingerprint and face recognition to set-up payments and purchases from the comfort of your limousine. 

High-class limousine drivers may also be excited about the possibility of seven different profiles that instantly adjust the temperature, seat settings and preferred drive-mode when the face or fingerprint of that customer is recognised.

That sounds like an awful lot of well-thought-out tech to us. While this level of comfort and customisation may be out-of-reach to most buyers when the new S-Class arrives, we can be sure that it will trickle down to more reasonable Mercedes-Benz products soon. 

2021 S-Class MBUX Screen 2
3D maps and movies on-the-move for the new S-Class.

We will have more information on the all-new S-Class and its groundbreaking features as they come to light, but this all-new limousine is shaping up to be something pretty special already.