A grainy Instagram image could show what's next for Mercedes' range-topping luxury sedan.
UPDATE: Mercedes-Benz USA reached out to CarBuzz to remove the image of the S-Class as it "was obtained illegally by another source."
The next version of the daddy of all luxury sedans - the Mercedes-Benz S-Class - has been spied... possibly.
A grainy spy shot of a black Mercedes sedan turned up on Instagram recently and our best guess is that it's a prototype of the next-generation S-Class. That car was last redesigned for 2014, making it more ripe for a new iteration than the other possibility: the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The E is several years newer, the current fifth-generation model having launched for the 2017 model year. Yet there's a new one coming soon, and its official debut is also right around the corner.
Mercedes tends to stick to a 6- or 7-year product life cycle with its sedan models, and camouflage-wearing prototypes have been spied testing in the past. This might just mark our first time seeing the new S sedan without camouflage, though.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class represents the top of the line for Mercedes' sedan range, routinely debuting cutting-edge technologies that later trickle down into other models in the lineup. The current-generation model, for instance, features an anticipatory suspension system called "Magic Body Control" that relies on stereo cameras to "see" and brace for bumps in the road ahead.
We don't know what all is in store for the next Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the range-topping luxury sedan is expected to get pop-out door handles like those used by Tesla, an all-digital instrument cluster, a separate large portrait-format infotainment touchscreen, and hands-free level-3 autonomous driving capabilities.
Rumor has it the next S-Class will only offer hybrid powertrains, built around the marque's latest 3.0L gas and 2.9L diesel inline-six-cylinder engines, along with a pure-electric version dubbed the "EQ S". Plug-in-hybrid models are expected to offer somewhere around 100 km of pure-electric driving range. The range of the EQ S is still unknown.
Relative to the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the car shown in this Instagram spy shot looks comparatively slab-sided - no more swooping character lines down the sides of the car. The nose comes to more of a point than on the current model, and the chrome-finish door handles appear to be recessed into the body, just as we'd expect. Chrome-finish trim abounds on the car's exterior, furnishing the door handles, window trim, side accent strip, main grille, and front fascia side inlets.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is expected to bow sometime later this year, before going on sale as a 2021 model.