More details have emerged of the new Mercedes S-Class, which is being previewed by a video sculpture, dubbed Aesthetic S, at the Paris motor show.
Mercedes technical boss Thomas Weber revealed that the new S-Class will be the company's first plug-in hybrid car.
It's not yet clear if the plug-in hybrid S-Class will be powered by a petrol or diesel engine, but it will be assisted by an electric motor that will also allow some miles of pure electric power before it needs recharging.
Weber admitted that it would be engineered to maximise fuel consumption, not power; emissions could be as low as 80g/km of CO2, meaning it would not be subject to company car tax under the current regime.
Weber also revealed that the new S-Class, which could be revealed at the Shanghai motor show in April, will be lighter than the current model.
It will also be safer and more comfortable, he claimed. Infotainment and connectivity technology will take a 'huge step forward' over the current S-Class and other Mercedes models.
As for the looks, Mercedes head of design Gorden Wagener told What Car? that the next S-Class will be an 'evolution', rather than a completely fresh approach.
'We're not reinventing the wheel here', he said. 'The next S-Class will refer to previous versions, because we don't want our existing cars to look old-fashioned and be worthless.'
However, Wagener did say that the new car will have a 'more sophisticated and flowing' shape and be less 'stiff' in its appearance.
This sleeker design will also help improve aerodynamics.
With the demise of Merc's super-luxury brand, Maybach, the next S-Class is likely to have more variants available. It's set to have three lengths: short and long wheelbase like today and a super-long 'Pullman' version.
A Coupe, replacing the current CL, will also join the range with the possibility of an unusual open-top four-seater also going on sale and loosely based on the 2007 Ocean Drive concept (pictured below).
By Chas Hallett
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