The new Mercedes S-Class was unveiled last night at a star-studded event in Germany, with everyone from the Hamburg symphony orchestra to Nikki Lauda and Franz Beckenbauer in attendance. Mercedes even hired warbling songstress Alicia Keys to serenade the assembled guests.
Overkill? Maybe, but in the world of motoring few car launches are important as that of a new Mercedes S-Class. Regarded by many to be 'the best car in the world', each successive generation changes our perceptions of what a car should be capable of.
It is also a showcase of the technology that will filter down to every other car in coming decades. Previous S-Class models ushered in such technology as ABS, inertia reel seatbelts and satellite navigation – items motorists take for granted on a budget hatchback these days.
The new generation certainly doesn't disappoint. Technical highlights include airbags built into the seatbelts and a camera that analyses the road ahead and proactively prepares the air suspension system so nothing disrupts the car's magic-carpet ride quality.
The car's interior is now notably larger and plusher than the outgoing model, with the S-Class now filling the void left by the Maybach limousine, which was the traditional rival to rarefied luxury limousines such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
The exterior styling shows a clear relationship with previous models, but the understated styling for which the model has become known has been given a contemporary twist with some detailed surface styling on a number of body panels.
The S-Class will be offered with petrol, diesel and hybrid drivetrains, with the cleanest version expected to duck under the new 75g/km CO2 emission limit for London congestion charge exemption – a deeply impressive feat for such a large luxury car.
The new Mercedes S-Class is expected to reach UK showrooms this September. Continue below to see a video showcasing the car's comfort and technological highlights.