2026 Mercedes S-Class Spied With Huge Grille, BMW Likely Approves the Design

2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 7 photos
Photo: Baldauf/autoevolution
2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class2026 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
One might not think of the W223 S-Class as an aging product, but it is about to turn four, so Mercedes is preparing a mid-cycle refresh. The visual and technical updates will keep it competitive for a few more years until the three-pointed star brand decides what to do with its successor.
Our spy photographers encountered a couple of prototypes of the facelifted Mercedes-Benz S-Class. One was immortalized from above, with its trippy stickers covering a huge chunk of its front fascia. However, even with the camouflage on, it's clear that it has adopted a rather controversial design.

Can you tell what's new without comparing it to the current S-Class? Yes, that would be the grille. This component was supersized for the flagship sedan's mid-cycle refresh, and it protrudes more into the lower part of the redesigned front bumper. The lower air intake is much smaller, and the side vents were reshaped.

It is very hard to make out the shape of the headlamps, but they appear to have different graphics. Some say they are provisional, and either way, it's clear that they are on the revisions. A second prototype was snapped wearing full camouflage, making spotting the novelties impossible. Still, since it is a facelifted iteration, we expect it to have a new bumper and different taillights.

2026 Mercedes\-Benz S\-Class
Photo: Baldauf
The interior of the current Mercedes S-Class is very nice, especially with the portrait-oriented display. We're not fans of the tablet-like digital instrument cluster, and it appears neither is the company. As a result, rumors claim it might get a reshaped dashboard panel with the Hyperscreen taking center stage. Facelifted cars tend to get new steering wheels and tweaked center consoles, among others, so this could also be on the menu for Merc's flagship sedan.

Beneath the skin lies the same MRA2 platform shared with the smaller E-Class and C-Class, as well as the CLE, GLC, and others. Mercedes' engineers may have paid some attention to the chassis; we believe they are refining the ride quality – not that there's anything wrong with it, but there is always room for improvement, especially when talking about a premium (or luxury when it comes to the Maybach S-Class) land yacht.

It is too early to speak about the powertrain family, but logic dictates that some units will undergo minor upgrades. After all, the brand needs to justify the slightly more expensive pricing compared to the current one, which starts at $117,300 in the United States or $198,300 for the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. We will find out more about the facelifted S as the testing advances and we see more prototypes in the open. The sedan should debut sometime next year, perhaps launching as a 2026 model in our market.

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About the author: Cristian Gnaticov
Cristian Gnaticov profile photo

After a series of unfortunate events put an end to Cristian's dream of entering a custom built & tuned old-school Dacia into a rally competition, he moved on to drive press cars and write for a living. He's worked for several automotive online journals and now he's back at autoevolution after his first tour in the mid-2000s.
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