New tech allows the S-Class to drive itself for longer periods of time, even on long country roads.

Recent spy shots suggest the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class won't get much in the way of visual updates. However, the Stuttgart-based company has revealed much bigger changes will be found under the sheet metal.

The S will receive many of the high-tech features inaugurated recently by the E-Class. These include remote-controlled parking and vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V).

Remote-controlled parking takes the stress out of backing into a tight parking spot by letting the driver control the S-Class like a R/C car. V2V lets the S "talk" to other Mercedes nearby to warn of hazards like ice the road.

The updated flagship will also inaugurate a series of new automated driving features.

"We are approaching the goal of automated driving more purposefully and faster than many people suspect. From the autumn, the new S-Class will be able to support its driver considerably better than all systems which have been available to date," said Dr. Michael Hafner, head of automated driving and active safety at Mercedes-Benz, in a statement.

Notably, the adaptive cruise control function (named Distronic in Mercedes-speak) now knows when it needs to slow down for bends, intersections, roundabouts, or toll booths. The new tech allows the S-Class to drive itself for longer periods of time, even on long country roads, according to Mercedes.

The 2018 S-Class will receive Mercedes' first straight-six engine in about two decades. The 3.0-liter unit will gradually trickle down to other members of the company's lineup, including the E, the GLE, and the next-generation CLS. A hotter version of it will power AMG-badged models.

The V8-powered S will receive upgrades, too. While the S560 nameplate hints at a bigger engine, the S will follow the industry's downsizing trend and adopt model-specific evolution of Mercedes' twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. It will generate roughly 476 horsepower, a 20-horse increase over the 4.7-liter unit it replaces, while returning 12 percent better fuel economy.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is tentatively scheduled to make its public debut in two weeks at the Shanghai Auto Show. It will go on sale nationwide before the end of the year.