What's Ahead for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS

mercedes eqs and sclass
What's Ahead for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQSCar and Driver and Mercedes-Benz - Car and Driver
  • Here's what we know so far: The Mercedes-Benz EQS gets a facelift and switches to a faster-charging 800-volt architecture late next year.

  • An all-new, more conventionally styled, and roomier EQS replacement is due in early 2028.

  • The S-class luxury sedan and its Maybach spinoff are to undergo two updates before eventually retiring in 2033.

The keepers of the three-pointed star once proclaimed the goal of Electric Only. Now, though, in the wake of a slowdown of EV adoption in major Western markets, the new mission is Electric First. And Mercedes is not alone. Although the European Parliament just confirmed its decision to end sales of new combustion-engine passenger cars in 2035, China, now the world's largest market for luxury automobiles, has extended the ICE grace period to 2060 (but this applies only to alternative combustibles such as hydrogen, biofuels, and synthetic renewables). As a result, Mercedes will likely continue building internal-combustion engines for decades to come.

In a parallel move, the Germans are also going to pull out all the stops to consolidate their leading position in the luxury segment. The plan includes boosting the Manufaktur division, which is expected lift personalization to a new level; the further evolution of the Maybach brand; and a major push to AMG, which is readying a bunch of fully electric Porsche fighters.

EQS Updates and Changes

The Mercedes-Benz standard bearer in the luxury-sedan field is of course the S-class, now in its seventh generation and still going strong. The electric version, the EQS, has struggled to keep up. This battery-powered, low-drag pioneer is a nice first try—and was the first home of the Hyperscreen and other digital wizardries—but it misses the 10-out-of-10 mark in several important areas including looks, packaging, and driver appeal. There are fixes underway, but they can only cure symptoms, not right the essential wrong.

In a few months, a minor update will introduce more comfortable Executive rear seats, a more prestigious triple-bar black panel grille, and a more potent 118.0-kWh battery. Late next year, the electric sedan will get an update from the 400-volt to an 800-volt system, which should yield faster charging and greater range. Other means to this end include a swap from Valeo e-motors to Merc's own eATS 2.0 units, a more relaxed rev-cutting two-speed transmission, and the more efficient cell chemistry of the smaller MMA components set that underpins the new CLA.

Originally, Mercedes had intended to replace the EQS and the S-class in 2028 with a joint all-new, fully electric model. But the market seems to have other ideas. The EQS still needs to retire in four years and will be replaced by a completely new design that revives the traditional three-box sedan proportions. Like the BMW i7, it will reportedly boast a five-star rear passenger compartment with all the trimmings and then some. Like a Bentley, its interior blends digital must-haves with authentic materials and real craftsmanship for top-notch perceived quality. Like a Rolls, it can be bespoke from bottom to top.

Mercedes also intends to personalize the light and sound experience, make adaptive multi-chamber seating available, and reintroduce buttons, knobs, and switches for the most essential functions. Chief interior designer Hartmut Sinkwitz comments: "Intuitive ergonomics will return, but I'm not saying analog is the new digital. Instead, we are going to offer the customers the best of both worlds."

Dubbed V580, the next EQS is based on MB.EA-L, the largest format of the brand's new electric architecture, which will make its debut in the 2026 GLC. All MB.EA products will feature a new grille inspired by the more upright proportions that were an untouchable Mercedes trademark for decades. The three-pointed star is also looming larger than ever, be it on the hood, in the grille, or as a stylized multi-mode front and rear light element. A source who must remain anonymous commented to Car and Driver: "Let's be honest, the EQS has always been perceived by our customers more like a stretched E-class than a proper S-class. The followup model needs to under promise and over deliver, or even newcomers like Lucid and Yangwang will eat us for breakfast. And it will."

S-Class Facelifts on the Horizon

But unlike the 7-series, which can be either ICE-powered or EV, the V580 EQS and today's S-class must exist side by side for years to come. The S-class will be facelifted in 2026 and then again in 2029, three years before the end of production. The first update is not merely a nip-and-tuck job but a more significant surgery that touches the front and rear ends as well as the cockpit. We expect new bumpers, mirrors, wheels, lights, and an illuminated new-look star pattern grille that can stage a variety of themes from festive to dynamic—some only when the vehicle is stationary, others also on the move.

The even classier interior features a redesigned dashboard with a revised multi-mode Hyperscreen and a large optional passenger display. You can still have that busy four-spoke steering wheel, but some of the notoriously vague touch sliders will be replaced with capacitive buttons and more precise thumbwheels.

The double facelift shows at least that there's life in the old dog yet. And who knows, unless EV adoption stages a swift comeback, we might even see an encore to the venerable ICE-powered sedan.

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