Spied: Next Mercedes-Benz S-Class Testing in California, Has New Command Interface

Our spy shooter managed to capture images of this Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype as it underwent hot-weather testing in the California desert. In addition to various interior tweaks, these spy photos reveal that the next-generation of the S-Class will have a totally revised interior.

The center stack no longer bulges out from the dashboard, but instead is a single flat plane, with wood trim stretching from behind the steering wheel all the way across the dashboard. Slat-style air vents have given way to circular chrome vents, and the color screen for the Command infotainment system appears to be significantly wider than on the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The Command interface itself is much the same. It consists primarily of a silver rotary joystick on the center console, but that dial is now surrounded by a bowl-shape arrangement of shortcut buttons. As seen here, they would allow the user to quickly jump to the navigation, radio, or phone screens. At left of the Command knob are new switches for transmission, suspension, and ride-height settings.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class also ditches its four-spoke steering wheel in favor of an elegant two-spoke design, with a big chrome trim ring and multiple buttons at either spoke. Behind the wheel, the instrument cluster changes both arrangements and forms. The current S-Class puts a large speedometer in the center, with secondary gauges occupying positions to either side. The new car appears to have a full-LCD cluster with a traditional two-binnacle arrangement.

As with the AMG we spotted previously, this Mercedes prototype doesn’t reveal too many exterior changes for the S-Class. The front grille looks wider and the headlights might be smaller. The doors appear to have more sculpturing and creases than the current luxury sedan, but that could simply be a side-effect of the camouflage cladding.

Our information suggests the new S-Class will be offered on a flexible chassis that can stretch from this standard wheelbase version to long and extra-long versions — and even potentially shooting break and convertible variants. It will be called Mercedes Rear Architecture, in a nod to the front-wheel-drive Mercedes Front Architecture chassis used for the A- and B-Class compacts.

We’re told that tech innovations will include more extensive voice recognition, a head-up display, the Magic Carpet Ride automatic damping system, adaptive LED headlights, active cruise control that can change lanes and pass other cars, and even new seatbelts with integrated airbags. Magic Carpet Ride will use cameras to detect potholes or other imperfections in the road surface, and will automatically adjust the suspension damping so that occupants don’t feel the bumps.Engine choices remain unknown, but the possibilities will continue to include a variety of diesel and gasoline mills ranging from four to 12 cylinders, as well as a hybrid. Mercedes-Benz’s new inflatable rear seat belt system should also appear in the new S-Class

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class should make its public debut within the next twelve months, most likely at a European auto show next spring.

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