The new Mercedes-Benz S-class is quite possibly the most advanced road car ever. The big four-door sedan is coming to North American showrooms in September. It is a rolling technology fortress, the goal being to place it at the top of the luxury car ranks, ahead of traditional rivals such as the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS, not to mention newer pretenders like the Porsche Panamera. Mercedes-Benz chairman Dieter Zetsche acknowledges this S-class has a vastly different mission from the one it replaces. It will be produced in no fewer than six different variants, including initial short- and long-wheelbase models and an extra-long-wheelbase model in the next year. This new variant, we’re told, will offer a limousine-like experience to match the Bentley Mulsanne and Rolls-Royce Ghost, and is planned as the basis for a plush Pullman return, to replace the discontinued Maybach. There will also be a two-door coupe and a cabriolet. The exterior styling has greater sculpture to the body, and evolves the appearance without straying too far from the outgoing model.