The S-Class looks like the typical big sedan whereas the EQS has a far more exciting shape.

Some people want electric vehicles to look just about the same as the ones powered by internal combustion engines. That’s what Mercedes did back in 2014 when it launched a production version of the ill-fated B-Class Electric Drive, which had a design largely carried over from the regular minivan. It’s a similar story with another people carrier the three-pointed star recently launched, with the EQV featuring an appearance that echoes its conventionally powered counterpart. One could say the EQC is also a more high-tech take on the GLC design.

Mercedes won’t be going down this road with the next-generation S-Class Sedan (W223) and its electric counterpart as the two will be greatly differentiated in terms of design. While the traditional flagship, will retain the conventional large sedan shape, the first-ever EQS will have a dramatic exterior as strongly hinted by the Vision EQS unveiled last month at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Gallery: Mercedes S-Class W223 and EQS screenshots from spy video

We probably should’ve seen this one coming as the IAA concept from 2015 with its ultra-low 0.19 drag coefficient had a similar shape resembling a CLS from the future. New spy footage from Germany shows the next-generation S as well as the EQS in busy city traffic, with the two waiting at a red light where the cameraman was located to immortalize the luxobarges.

You can tell which is which by simply looking at the placement of the side mirrors, with the ones of the EQS sitting lower on the doors whereas the S-Class’ mirrors are at the base of the A-pillars. The sloping roofline of the electric model is also a dead giveaway, as is the cap on the front fender for the charging port. Although not immediately noticeable, the range-topping EV from Mercedes will likely have slightly shorter front and rear overhangs.

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS (2019)

Those nifty pop-out door handles won’t be exclusive to the EQS as the S-Class is getting them as well, at least in the Maybach flavor we caught a while back. For whatever reason, Mercedes slapped on a pair of fake exhaust tips reminding us of the time when Porsche was playing tricks on us with Taycan prototypes that had those hilarious dual “exhausts.”

The EQS appears to be sitting closer to the road and has a pair of sleeker headlights compared to those of the S-Class. The traditional grille you’ll find on every Mercedes powered by a combustion engine will be replaced with a body panel on the EQS since there won’t be an ICE underneath the hood that would require cooling.

One other change that will serve as a differentiator between the two models will be the more practical hatchback / liftback opening of the tailgate whereas the S-Class will be a traditional sedan with a trunk lid. We’d normally say the EQS won’t be as roomy on the inside as the S given the heavily sloped roofline and the sleeker derrière, but taking out the engine, transmission tunnel, and the associated oily bits will certainly make up for that.

While the S is due to be unveiled in 2020, its electric cousin is not expected to see the light of day before 2022 on a dedicated EV platform.