Every new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a momentous opportunity for heads of state and captains of industry to go big or go home. So the cognoscenti might have to excuse the just-unveiled 2021 Mercedes S-Class for being a bit, well, austere. Sacrebleu, what the hell’s happened to our beloved supersedan?
Gone is the grandiose stance, the playful interplay of character lines on sheetmetal, the plebian-crushing imperiousness. The latest grande dame is less old school opulent, more postmodern neutral. “Maybe understatement is a bit more desirable these days,” Mercedes’s Senior Exterior Design Manager Eugen Enns offered during a private preview of the latest flagship. Go on, we’re listening.
Given these curious times, it seems only natural that a monumental sedan would throw a curveball at the most astute of luxury fanatics. After all, this is an era when the Audis and Benzes and Bimmers of the world are reaching ever closer to top tier specimens from the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. But at least with the Mercedes S-Class, which debuts with a 429 horsepower six-cylinder (S500) or a hungry 496 horsepower V8 (S580), the real magic starts when those Tesla-like door handles extend and you climb inside the cabin.
Big dollar four-doors are usually all about the rear seats. And indeed, the two lucky (or three slightly less lucky) rear occupants are treated to a massive expanse of legroom and reclining seats with massage capability. Up to five screens now enable inter-seat communication, and party tricks like sending navigation destinations to the driver (Papa can you hear me?) A nifty bit of cushiness, considering this kind of doodad is usually reserved for XL-sized family haulers.