The company's flagship sedan is going under the knife.

The facelifted Mercedes S-Class has been spied inside and out.

Set to battle the new Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series, the updated model has a familiar design but adopts a modified front bumper and restyled headlights.  Additional changes are limited but the car has also been equipped with a new rear bumper and a revised dual exhaust system.

The interior is instantly recognizable but it boasts a number of minor changes including a new three-spoke steering wheel and a revised center console with a new touchpad controller.  The buttons between the digital instrument cluster and the infotainment system have also been removed to give the displays a more cohesive appearance.

Engine options will largely carryover but the company could offer the model with an assortment of new inline six-cylinder units.  The engines were originally expected to debut in the E-Class but speculation suggests the company could now introduce the engine family in its range-topping model first.

The facelifted Mercedes S-Class is expected to be unveiled early next year so look for a possible debut at either the North American International Auto Show or the Geneva Motor Show.

Gallery: Mercedes S Class facelift spy photos