2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Interior Attains Next Level Luxury

A refuge between home and workplace

Words Thomas Philips
January 20, 2021
A refuge between home and workplace
Words Thomas Philips January 20, 2021

Modern luxury attains the next level in the interior of the S-Class. The designers have created a feel-good ambience with lounge character marked by elegance, high quality and lightness. The dashboard with its new architecture, modern surface design and ergonomic display arrangement is a particular highlight. The aim and ambition of the Mercedes-Benz interior designers was to harmonise digital and analogue luxury in the vehicle interior.

The S-Class has always been a place for comfortable travel and relaxed working. With the new generation, the interior has fully evolved into a “third place”, a refuge between home and workplace. Nearly all comfort-related dimensions of both variants, the S-Class with short and long wheelbase, have been improved in the front as well as on the rear seats. The sense of space is accordingly generous.

The desired harmony between digital and analogue luxury results in a revolutionary interior design, including associations with interior architecture and yacht design elements. The sculptured look of the dashboard, centre console and armrests appears to float above an expansive interior landscape. The systematic reduction in the number of controls underscores the minimalist appearance of the interior. A fine divide between the upper section of the dashboard and the large trim element structures the area and creates horizontal breadth. This interface is also where the active ambient lighting (see separate chapter) is located.

In addition to the up to five screens, highlights include the large trim elements in the dashboard and in the rear (with the First Class rear suite). These flow around the passengers and are a systematic further development of the wrap-around effect. One particularly attractive version of the trim is an open-pored wood veneer shot through with inlays of real aluminium that follow the contours. The “Novum” trim variant consists of a mixed metallic weave which accentuates the elegant, sporty styling.

New design elements include the flat, four-square centre vents with horizontal nacelles. Two slim, vertical side vents on each side round off the ends of the dashboard. The air volume is controlled by keys with LED displays. The avantgarde geometry of the vents and their decorative nature accentuate the modern look.

The seats (see separate chapter for features and configuration) invite the occupants to sit down and relax. The flowing, three-dimensional layer design theme gives an impression of lightness. Different finishes give the seats different characters. For example, the flowing longitudinal piping of Lugano leather lends them a noble, avantgarde look, while the progressive diamond pattern of nappa leather and Exclusive nappa leather is more classical and expressive.

Mercedes-Benz introduced electric seat adjustment in 1980. Since then, many vehicle generations have featured the brand’s hallmark seat adjustment switch in the form of a stylised seat in the door. This control has been completely redesigned for the new S-Class. Visible joints have been reduced by combining the trim with the seat controls. The geometry and surround lighting of the control panel make the seat adjustment control appear to float in the door panel.

The newly developed pressure sensors for seat adjustment open up new design possibilities. Thanks to the practically fixed control buttons, minimal gaps between the individual controls can be realised. This also means that very small apertures in the black panel trim are possible. This allows a slim, filigree, floating design of the control buttons. The pressure sensors also allow a continuous coupling of operating pressure and speed.

Choice of four display styles and three modes

The driver display and media display offer a comprehensive aesthetic experience The appearance of the screens can be individualised with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service) Examples of new features:

  • In “Discreet”, seven different colour schemes are available for the instrumentation, and the 64 colours of the ambient lighting are grouped accordingly.
  • “Sporty” is dominated by the colour red, with dynamic presentation of the central rev counter.
  • The new display scheme “Exclusive” in an attractive white mother-of-pearl look is reserved for the S-Class. In night mode and when passing through tunnels, the system automatically switches to a darker display.
  • In “Assistance” mode, important events, the infrastructure and other road users (cars, motorcycles, trucks) are shown.
  • The augmented reality head-up display (see separate chapter) is absolutely new, and projects important information into the real environment.

Up to 19 motors in the front seats make for comfortable seating – a number that indicates the complexity of the technology installed in the seats. However, the seats not only play a major part for comfort, but also where safety is concerned. And of course when it comes to luxurious wellbeing: all the seats available for the S-Class carry the seal of approval by the Healthy Seating campaign[1].

The wealth of technology is accommodated in a new design whose weight has not increased despite the new content. The backrest is now isolated from the seat surface, which has advantages in terms of transmitted vibrations and crash behaviour. The seat cushion takes the form of a steel-sprung half shell of sheet steel with foam upholstery and a seat cover. The mouldings for attachment to the seat adjustment system are integrated into the half shells. The springs are pretensioned when the seat depth is enlarged. Seat adjustment therefore adapts the spring characteristics for larger and heavier occupants. An innovative microsandwich material is used in the seatback lining. More information: “Under the microscope: resource-conserving materials”.

ENERGIZING seat kinetics is available in the S-Class for the first time. Small changes in the angles of the seat surface and backrest tension and relax the muscles, benefiting the circulation. The list of drive motors and actuators in each seat for the following functions gives an impression of the complexity of the seat as a high-tech component:

  • Longitudinal adjustment
  • Height adjustment
  • Inclination adjustment
  • Seat cushion depth adjustment
  • Backrest angle
  • Head restraint height adjustment
  • Head restraint angle
  • Heel support (only front passenger seat)
  • Rear Seat Entertainment/displays for passengers in the rear. On the front passenger side, the inclination is automatically adjusted to the angle of the backrest to keep the same angle of vision. Naturally the rear passengers can also adjust the monitors individually. At the driver’s seat the monitor is always adjusted by hand.
  • 4 vibration motors for massage
  • 5 fan motors
  • a motor for the lumbar support pump in the basic seats. The pump for the inflatable side bolsters of the multicontour seat is centrally installed in the boot.

But that’s not all: the seats also play an increasingly major part where safety is concerned. Up to four airbags (sidebag as a combined thorax-pelvis bag, the new rear airbag and, in the driver’s seat, also the centre airbag and the air chamber of PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side) have to be accommodated. More about this in the chapters “The rear airbag” and “Protective measures in a side crash”.

Other new features in the seat if the Burmester® high-end 4D surround sound system is installed are two so-called exciters (resonance transmitters) in the backrests. These convert bass tones into vibrations, making music an even more intensive experience. Ear-level speakers integrated into the head restraints improve communication. For example, the driver can hear instructions from the navigation system without disturbing the other occupants. More about this in the chapter “The sound systems”

Ten different massage programmes are available in the new S-Class. Two new programmes specially designed for the
S-Class use vibration motors. The effect of the relaxing massage along the lines of a hot stone massage is increased thanks to the warmth. To this end, the seat heating is combined with the inflatable air chambers in the active multicontour seats. The air chambers are now closer to the seat surface, and are therefore even easier to control and feel. The massage programmes take between eight and eighteen minutes. Their intensity can be chosen in two stages.

  • Hot Relaxing back massage
  • Hot Relaxing shoulder massage
  • Activating massage
  • Classic massage
  • Mobilizing massage
  • Wave massage
  • Active Workout backrest
  • Active Workout cushion
  • Depth massage
  • Depth workout

At the touch of a button or by voice command, the holistic “Fit & Healthy” approach of ENERGIZING COMFORT provides a tangible experience of the in part significantly advanced comfort systems in the S-Class, and features programmes that bundle them into worlds of experience. At the same time, the system creates a suitable atmosphere in the interior – for example, invigorating in case of fatigue or relaxing in case of an elevated stress level. The ENERGIZING COACH even suggests an appropriate fitness or wellness programme based on vehicle and trip data. It also factors the information about sleep quality and stress level into its intelligent algorithm if the driver has a suitable wearable.

Mercedes-Benz has fundamentally improved ENERGIZING comfort control in the new S-Class. Innovations such as in-depth massage (see chapter on seats) and resonance transmission by the Burmester® high-end 4D surround sound system are integrated. This makes bass tones feelable. Direct reproduction of the sound resonance in the seats adds another level to the three-dimensional listening experience – 4D sound inspired by the acoustic massage. The perceived intensity of the sound can be individually adjusted for each seat. The music becomes even more emotional thanks to this feelable component. Two exciters are integrated into the backrest of each seat for this purpose.

Further major improvements to ENERGIZING COMFORT:

  • The character of the programmes has been made more specific.
  • Some comfort systems are exclusively used by ENERGIZING comfort control. One example is a special massage procedure in the Vitality programme.
  • The sequence of individual functions within a programme is more flexible.
  • Visualisation benefits from active ambient lighting and large screens with high-resolution animations.
  • Shared experience: other occupants can participate in an active programme (Join mode), or suggest that others run this programme for themselves (Share mode).
  • The voice assistant “Hey Mercedes” is integrated. A statement such as “I am stressed”, for example, automatically triggers the ‘Joy’ programme with regenerative character. If the driver says “I’m tired”, he/she is prompted to take a break and ENERGIZING COMFORT starts the Vitality programme.
  • Each programme has its own sound background composed in 7.1 surround sound by a sound agency.
  • Mercedes-Benz has developed a special ENERGIZING Comfort range in China for Chinese S-Class customers.

Two ENERGIZING packages are available for the S-Class. The package contents:

  • The ENERGIZING package Front has ENERGIZING COMFORT, ENERGIZING COACH, AIR-BALANCE package, ambient lighting, Warmth Comfort package, front seat climatisation and Active Multicontour Seat package in the front.
  • The ENERGIZING package Rear extends the ENERGIZING comfort control to the rear seats. It includes seat climatisation in the rear and the Seat Comfort package Rear. This package requires the optional electrically adjustable rear seats and MBUX high-end rear entertainment.

In plug-in hybrids the Power Nap programme is available, a useful feature e.g. when taking a break at a service station or to charge the battery.

Here is an overview of the individual ENERGIZING COMFORT programmes:

Programme Purpose/Character Main components Sub-components
Freshness Refreshment on hot days or after physical effort Climate pulse (short blast of cool air), seat ventilation, deep wave massage (enlivening and stimulating vibrations in the seat cushion) Green-blue light, animation, sound, fragrancing & ionisation, 4D sound setting (off)
Warmth Warmth and cosiness on cold days Seat, surface and steering wheel heating, heated neck cushion in the rear Orange-red light, animation, discreet sound, fragrancing & ionisation, massage, 4D sound setting
Vitality Activation on long car journeys Stimulating sound and activating light, exclusive stimulating massage Animation, seat ventilation, fragrancing & ionisation, ENERGIZING seat kinetics, 4D sound setting
Joy Creation of a positive mood, regeneration if stress level is high Mobilising massage, 4D sound with regenerating effect of low frequencies Positive sound, warm light, animation, fragrancing & ionisation
Comfort Spa-character for relaxation and wellbeing Hot-stone massage (alternate shoulder and lower back massage) Violet light, animation, relaxing sound, fragrancing & ionisation, 4D sound
Training Three times ten sequences for:
Muscle activation,
muscle relaxation,
Explanatory video,
voice instructions
Ambient lighting
ENERGIZING tips General notes on wellbeing Voice information about five body areas

ENERGIZING COACH: individual fitness recommendations

The ENERGIZING COACH is based on an intelligent algorithm. It recommends the Freshness, Warmth, Vitality or Joy programme depending on the situation and individual. If the Mercedes-Benz vivoactive® 3 smartwatch, the Mercedes-Benz Venu® smartwatch or another compatible Garmin® wearable is linked, personal values such as stress level or sleep quality optimise the precision of the recommendation. Via the Mercedes me App, the smartwatch sends vital data of the wearer to the ENERGIZING COACH, e.g. pulse rate, stress level and sleep quality. The recommended comfort programme can be directly started from the suggestion in the form of a notification in the MBUX system.

The aim is to ensure that the driver feels well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys. In addition, the pulse rate recorded by the integrated Garmin® wearable is shown in the central display.

ENERGIZING seat kinetics: good for the back

ENERGIZING seat kinetics support orthopedically beneficial changes in the seating posture by means of minute changes to the inclination of the seat cushions and backrest. The system is available for the front seats in conjunction with all-electric seat adjustment with memory function.

ENERGIZING seat kinetics uses the electric seat adjustment. If the driver selects this programme, the inclination of the seat cushions and backrests is continuously adjusted minutely using the seat settings selected by the driver and the front passenger as the starting point. The changes are only minimal – a few degrees or millimetres.

ENERGIZING seat kinetics can improve spinal health, because the natural strain and relief of muscles, joints and discs can lead to muscle relaxation and an improved supply of nutrients to the joints and discs.

ENERGIZING seat kinetics is based on a patented algorithm. The programme can be conveniently selected with visual support via MBUX or the voice assistant “Hey Mercedes”.