It’s only been three years since Mercedes-Benz redesigned its flagship, but 2010 will see an updated look for the S-class—if only slightly. The big news for the big luxury barge in 2010 is the addition of a hybrid model and a raft of new safety features; the styling changes are mild and will only catch the attention of the most dedicated onlookers.

The most—and perhaps only—noticeable change outside is up front, where the grille is honed and stretched to a slightly pentagonal shape echoing the redesigned E-class, wherein the lower lip of the grille is pulled downward just so, forming a subtle point. Flanking the grille are headlights that retain the lens of the current car but shuffle the internals around to make room for bi-xenon headlamps and LED turn signals. A new bumper houses LED driving lights, while new mirrors feature redundant indicators. LEDs arrayed in a double-C shape now make up the taillights.

Mercedes’ standard interior ambient lighting package gets upgraded as well, now offering a choice of three different “moods” (colors): amber, white, and ice blue. Although Ford packs far more color choices into cars like the Focus and Mustang, the execution in the S-class is suitably more elegant.

The S400 BlueHybrid is new to the line in 2010, and Mercedes-Benz’s first mass-market hybrid, pairing a 275-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor rated at 20-hp and 118-lb-ft. For more information, read our first drive of the 2010 S400.

All S-classes, hybrid, V-8, V-12, and otherwise will receive a battery of safety equipment including updated Pre-Safe collision warning/mitigation, adaptive high-beam headlights, lane-departure warning, and more. The S-class will tell the driver when it thinks he or she is drowsy, but sadly lacks the technology to detect when the driver is aroused, allowing it to prepare the car for romantic couplings by automatically moving the front seats forward, reclining the rears, deploying all window shades, and dimming ambient lighting.

Maybe Mercedes will catch that on the next update. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-class will be available in the U.S. in August of 2009.

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