To retract or not to retract, that is the question.
Mercedes-Benz is taking its sweet time bringing the new W223 S-Class saloon to production. If it seems like we’ve seen camouflaged test cars for years, it’s because we have. Our first sighting of the next-gen luxury saloon was clear back in September 2017 with a test mule wearing present-day S-Class skin. Today’s sighting comes courtesy of walkoARTvideos on YouTube, and these prototypes definitely aren’t mere mules. As far as we can tell, these machines are production-spec and ready for the world.
Of course, Mercedes engineers make that final determination and the testing clearly continues. This video shows not just the next S-Class saloon but the swanky Mercedes-Maybach S-Class variant as well, and we’re actually given a pretty good look at its door handles. That may sound rather boring, but it’s no secret that Mercedes will offer retractable handles on its new S-Class. The long-wheelbase Maybach seen here doesn’t appear to have them, however, which is a bit of a surprise. That is, unless these are a different kind of hideaway handles.
Gallery: Mercedes S-Class and Maybach spy screenshots
Meanwhile, other W223 prototypes in this spy video do have flush handles that can be easily seen. With the camo wrap still fully in place there’s admittedly not much to see there, but most of our prototype sightings have featured vehicles with large boxes around the handles to completely conceal what’s happening underneath. Since retractable handles help with vehicle aerodynamics, that chunky door camo had to come off eventually in the testing process. It’s at least a sign that the new S-Class is in the home stretch.
By home stretch, we mean a debut is likely still several months away. We expect to see Mercedes reveal the new S-Class saloon next year as a 2021 model, likely pulling the camo wrap midway through 2020. As for the upscale Maybach, it will probably follow a year later as a 2022 model.