In 2013, when Mercedes-Benz was preparing to unveil the latest generation of its range-topping S-Class—the world standard for executive luxury sedans for 60 years—it pulled a bit of a stunt. One hundred twenty-five years to the day after Bertha Benz, wife of the company’s founder, drove one of her husband’s prototype vehicles 60 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim, the brand retraced this route successfully. In a self-driving S-Class.
At the time, this was a conceptual “research vehicle,” but when the actual production car came to market later that year, it incorporated many of the same features, giving it the ability—under certain circumstances, and with a driver always alert at the wheel—to start, stop, steer, stay in a lane, keep a steady speed and distance from other cars, avoid obstacles, and park itself.
The German automaker is currently preparing to unveil the refreshed version of this generation of S-Class. This unveiling will take place at the Shanghai Auto Show in mid-April, before consumers can purchase the car by late summer, but we were granted a preview. “The biggest changes are to our Drive Pilot system,” says Ola Kallenius, the brand’s manager of group research and car development, speaking of the suite of sensors, cameras, radars, and other electronic components that semiautonomously assist the driver in the constant small adjustments that can lead to fatigue. In this update, Mercedes is focusing on refinement. “Like in architecture or other aesthetic practices, it is the sum of many little things that makes the impression of an object,” Kallenius says.
Is Mercedes-Benz's New S-Class the Most Luxurious Self-Driving Car on the Road? | Architectural Digest