The big ones Mercedes throughout time they defined the luxury category and set the bar very high. From the 1961 300SE W112 to the most modern S-Class of the last decades and up to the electric one EQS of today (or rather of…tomorrow), the cabins of the big Mercedes have made leaps in technology and luxury.
It is known that the Mercedes has a long tradition in large luxury cars. Its limousines must be accompanied by the correspondingly high level of luxury and technology inside. Depending on the data and technologies of each era, let's see how 12 models of the German company left their mark and defined what luxury means in their interior over the last 60 years.
Mercedes-Benz 300SE (W112, 1961-1965)
The most classic interior of the 1960s, the W112 300SE introduced in 1961. Beautiful steering wheel, plenty of wood, leather and metal, what stood out were the distinctive vertical instruments behind the steering wheel and the column-mounted gear selector of the steering wheel, which Merc would return to a few decades later.
Mercedes-Benz 600 (W100, 1963-1981)
The definition of Big Benz stood proudly at the top of the Mercedes range for almost two decades, from 1963 to 1981. If the S-Class later became synonymous with the term car of the rich, the 600 was more than that. Wood and leather cover all surfaces, while especially on the seats leather has been used lavishly. For many years it was considered the benchmark for its unbridled luxury with competitors such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI.
Mercedes-Benz 250SE (W108, 1965-1972)
The W108 succeeded the W112 (while the 600 was positioned above). Very little was different inside the cabin, other than the more conventional, but still great instruments. Its design followed more modest lines.
Mercedes-Benz 350SE (W116, 1972-1980)
The first 'regular' S-Class (short for Sonderklasse or 'special class'), the model that officially introduced the name to the company's books and a huge leap forward from the car it replaced. Check out the all-new cabin architecture. Now, the first S-Class goes to a more doric, more austere design. This interior layout set a standard that endured for decades.
Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL (W126, 1979-1992)
One of the most successful Big Mercedes in history, with many copies sold in more than 12 years of production. The 500 SEL again followed leaner and cleaner lines, brought a more modern image to the interior and controls for the new fully automatic air conditioning system. It was the first car to introduce driver and passenger airbags to the market, although initially few cars were ordered with them as equipment due to the high cost.
The W126 continues to this day to be Mercedes-Benz's longest-running and most commercially successful model in the large luxury car segment, with total sales reaching 892,123 units.
Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL (W140, 1991-1998)
The famous 600 SEL-W140 was essentially a development of the previous generation. By design, it did not bring about the revolution. It was the first S-Class to carry a V12 engine and feature double-glazed windows.
Mercedes-Benz S500 (W220, 1998-2005)
Another huge technological leap, the W220-coded S500 was introduced in 1998 and design-wise set the standard on which all subsequent Mercedes would be based. In fact, it was very rich in technologies that followed modern standards and were to be developed and perfected in the coming years, such as COMAND infotainment, Active Body Control, the adaptive Distronic cruise control and the innovative Pre-safe safety system. For the comfort of passengers, it provided the first electronic air conditioning system installed in a production car. The icing on the cake of this cabin was of course the engine start button on top of the gear lever.
Maybach 57/62 (W240, 2000-2012)
Shortly after the launch of the W220 model of the S-Class, Mercedes revived the Maybach with the 57 and 62 models, numbers referring to the length of the luxury limousine (5.7 and 6.2 meters respectively). They remained in production for several years until 2012 and were extremely expensive and luxurious, but never sold as much as the German brand wanted. A total of just 3,000 examples of the 57 and 62 were built in their 10-plus years of production, due to extremely low demand, a number well below Mercedes-Benz's original expectations.
Mercedes-Benz S500 (W221, 2005-2013)
The first modern S-Class interior to be dominated by screens and another huge step up from the car it replaced. The navigation and infotainment system has moved into the digital age, now moving to the upper part of the dashboard where it looks like a single continuation of the instrument panel screen.
Another design difference from its predecessors was that the fully automatic gearbox was controlled by a small lever behind the steering wheel, rather than a classic gear lever. The W221 was technologically and aesthetically far ahead of any other model in the Mercedes range at the time.
Mercedes S63 AMG (W222, 2013-2020)
Evolution from the same design pattern as the previous W221, with two large screens – now larger and with higher resolutions – dominating. The trim became much more modern setting the design standards for all modern Mercedes that followed.
Mercedes–Benz S500 (W223, 2020- )
And hopefully we arrive at the luxurious and futuristic new S-Class. A design pattern that until recently was only seen in prototype models. It's no risk to say that the 2020 W223 set the standard for cars of the future.
On the other hand the S-Class is full of screens. All entertainment, climate, security systems, as well as the instrument panel are now controlled by high-resolution screens. Yes, it may take some getting used to, but the interface is actually very simple to operate, despite the many electronics.
The model uses the MBUX (Mercedes Benz User Experience) entertainment system of the second generation. The screen layout includes a 12.3-inch one in the instrument panel position and another one for the central 12.8-inch OLED infotainment system. The MBUX system features over-the-air software update support, automatic driver profile selection via voice or fingerprint recognition and the “Hey Mercedes” virtual assistant.
Mercedes EQS (2021)
And finally we come to EQS which seems to come from the future. We'd describe it as the epitome of luxury and high-tech, with the optional 'Hyperscreen' control panel stealing the show. It is an array of screens that cover almost the entire surface of the dashboard, consisting of 3 different high-resolution screens. The first behind the steering wheel serves as a digital instrument panel, while the other two, a larger one on the dashboard and one in front of the passenger, handle all the connectivity, navigation, air conditioning and entertainment systems.
Of course, the cockpit of the electric EQS lacks physical switches with the exception of those found on the three-spoke steering wheel. The interior is entirely covered in high-quality leather, while due to the surface of the screens, the wooden linings of the past are missing.
See the dazzling interior of the new Mercedes EQS
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