The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology

Mercedes-Benz presents its new top-of-the-range model: the S-Class. In autumn 2005 this luxury car will be appearing at company-owned outlets and dealerships.
As in the preceding series, the new S-Class will introduce technical innovations which make the flagship Mercedes model an example for others to follow. Pioneering safety features and exemplary comfort are once again the outstanding attributes of the S-Class. The new S-Class also sets standards with its agile handling, while offering an even more effortless driving experience thanks to new, more powerful engines. It is replacing a model series which is the world No. 1 in the luxury class, with around 500,000 units sold.
For more than five decades, the letter "S" in the model designation of Mercedes cars has signified a special aura, intelligent technology and the highest quality. The new S-Class not only continues this tradition, but lends a new meaning to it. A dozen technical innovations are entering series production for the first time on board the new S-Class – from Brake Assist PLUS with radar sensors to dynamic multicontour seats with an extended massage function, from night view assist with the latest infra-red technology to the new COMAND system, and from anticipatory PRE-SAFE® occupant protection to the Active Body Control suspension system.
The new flagship model by Mercedes-Benz is larger than its predecessor in every respect. There is a choice of two body lengths - 5076 or 5206 millimetres – which is 33 and 43 millimetres more, respectively, than the previous S-Class. The wheelbase has increased by 70/80 millimetres to 3035/3165 millimetres. In addition, the body is now 16 mm wider and 29 mm higher than previously. These new dimensions create the basis for an interior space concept which offers all the passengers first-class comfort.
Suspension: AIRMATIC and ABC for even greater comfort with agile handling
The running gear with its standard, improved air suspension system AIRMATIC likewise makes a major contribution to the high level of ride comfort in the new S-Class. Mercedes-Benz combines this with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS), which continuously regulates the shock absorber characteristics and takes the road conditions, driving style and vehicle load into account. The system adapts the damping forces for each individual wheel to the current situation within just 50 milliseconds.
The Adaptive Damping System was further improved by means of degressive shock absorber characteristics. This provides a greater ratio between the compression and rebound damping forces, thereby contributing greatly to the agile handling characteristics of the saloon. Thanks to an improved calculation process, the system also detects the road surface conditions more precisely, and these are taken into account for adaptive control of the shock absorbers.
The "S/C/M" key in the centre console is another special feature of the new S-Class. This enables the driver to alter the characteristics of the saloon from "comfortable" to "sporty", and to adjust the suspension, vehicle level and transmission mode individually. From 120 km/h and in the Sport mode, the suspension is automatically lowered by up to 20 millimetres to further improve the handling, aerodynamics and fuel consumption.
The Active Body Control active suspension system (standard on the S 600) is widely regarded as a milestone in automotive engineering. For installation in the new S-Class it has been further improved. Body movements under hard driving are reduced by 60 percent compared with the previous model. As a result, the S-Class combines new dimensions in sporty handling with equally noticeable gains in comfort.
Performance: over 26 percent more output from the new V8 engine
The engines for the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class are new or further developments which offer up to 26 percent more output and up to 15 percent more torque compared to the preceding series. Fuel consumption has been reduced by up to nine percent.
Together with the luxury saloon, a new 5.5-litre eight-cylinder will be premiered in autumn 2005 which generates 285 kW/388 hp and is among the most powerful engines in its displacement class. Maximum torque is also significantly improved compared with the previous V8 engine; it has increased to 530 Newton metres, and is available within a wide engine speed range between 2800 and 4800 rpm. As a result the eight-cylinder powerplant offers driving pleasure more typical of a sports car. The new S 500 accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds (previous model: 6.3 seconds). Despite the 26 percent increase in output, the NEDC (combined) fuel consumption of 11.7 to 11.9 litres per 100 kilometres remains at the same, favourable level as the preceding series.
The two six-cylinder engines for the new S-Class are likewise new developments. The S 350 is powered by the 200 kW/272 hp V6 engine, which delivers around eleven percent more output while saving one litre of fuel per 100 kilometres. The combined NEDC fuel consumption is 10.1 to 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The new S 350 accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, and is therefore 0.3 seconds faster than its predecessor.
From the first quarter of 2006 the new 173 kW/235 hp V6 diesel engine will be added to the range available for the S-Class. This supersedes the previous in-line six-cylinder unit of the S 320 CDI, improving output by 15 percent. Maximum torque is increased from 500 to 540 Newton metres, which is available from 1600 rpm for outstanding flexibility. This up-to-date direct-injection diesel unit consumes 8.3 to 8.5 litres of fuel per 100 km (combined consumption) and is equipped with a maintenance-free particulate filter as standard.
The new top-of-the-line model in the S-Class will also be available from the first quarter of 2006. Thanks to an improved bi-turbo engine, the twelve-cylinder S 600 Saloon develops an output of 380 kW/517 hp – 12 kW/17 hp more than previously. Maximum torque has increased from 800 to 830 Newton metres, while fuel consumpption has decreased by 0.5 to 14.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The V12 engine accelerates the S-Class from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds.
The V6 and V8 models in the new S-Class are equipped as standard with the 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission, which is unique worldwide. A further innovation is DIRECT SELECT, an attractively styled steering-column selector lever which can be gently judged to operate the 7G-TRONIC.
Safety: Brake Assist with radar and latest-generation PRE-SAFE®
Mercedes-Benz has improved well-proven safety systems such as Brake Assist and PRE-SAFE® even further for the new S-Class. These high-tech innovations greatly help to prevent accidents, improve occupant protection and assist the driver. The new Brake Assist PLUS system (BAS PLUS) registers vehicles ahead by radar and gives a warning if the gap is too small or the closing speed is too high. If a collision threatens, Brake Assist PLUS calculates the ideal braking assistance in fractions of a second and makes this available immediately – even if the driver applies too little pressure to the brake pedal. This significantly reduces the incidence of rear-end collisions.
Mercedes-Benz combines Brake Assist PLUS with the equally unique PRE-SAFE® occupant protection system, which offers even more safety functions on board the new S-Class. PRE-SAFE® recognises potential accident situations as they arise: if braking deceleration exceeds a certain level or a skid is imminent, the system tensions the front seat belts as a precaution and inflates air cushions in the multi-contour seats to envelop and support the driver, front passenger and rear seat occupants.
This combination of the new Brake Assist PLUS system and PRE-SAFE® is a further enhancement to occupant protection. Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first and only automotive brand with a comprehensive safety system of this kind, which goes into action as soon as an accident risk is detected.
DISTRONIC PLUS: new assistance system for stop-and-go traffic
Brake Assist PLUS is available in combination with the likewise improved DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control system. This radar-supported system now operates at all speeds between zero and 200 km/h, and ensures even greater driver convenience. In stop-and-go traffic DISTRONIC PLUS keeps the new S-Class at the desired distance from the vehicle ahead, automatically brakes the Saloon to a standstill if necessary and accelerates it back to the programmed speed when the traffic starts moving again. In this way the assistance system reduces the driver’s workload and provides considerable benefits in driver-fitness safety.
The equipment package consisting of Brake Assist PLUS and DISTRONIC PLUS also includes park assist, which is based on radar technology. This system provides early warning of an impending collision when reversing.
Night view assist: more safety at night with infrared headlamps
With the innovative night view assist system which is premiered in the new S-Class, Mercedes-Benz has made a further, major contribution to reducing the risk of accidents during the hours of darkness. This system is based on infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye and will therefore not dazzle oncoming traffic. Two infrared headlamps illuminate the road, significantly extending the driver’s range of vision when on low beam. An infrared camera mounted on the inside of the windscreen records the reflected image of the road ahead and displays this in the instrument cluster.
Bodyshell: High-tech steels for maximum safety
The bodyshell creates important conditions for the comfort, dynamism, durability and other major attributes of the new S-Class. The static torsional rigidity of the body - an indicator for safe and comfortable handling - has improved by around twelve percent compared to the previous S-Class, for example. Approx. half of the bodyshell components are of high or higher-strength, high-tech steel alloys which offer maximum strength with minimum weight - an unprecedented level in car engineering. The bonnet, front wings, boot lid and other components are made of aluminium.
High-quality recyclates and renewable raw materials play an important role in the materials efficiency of the S-Class. 27 components in the new S-Class with a combined weight of around 43 kilograms are made from natural materials. Compared to the preceding model series, this is an increase of approx. 73 percent in the total weight of components made from renewable raw materials. The new luxury saloon by Mercedes-Benz is the world's first automobile to possess an environmental certification. This confirms the environment-oriented development process for the S-Class, during which significant progress was made in several aspects. This environmental certification also makes the flagship Mercedes model an example and trendsetter in car development where ecological aspects are concerned.
Interior: Control concept with COMAND controller and direct access buttons
Getting in, driving and feeling at ease - this is the unique experience offered by the new S-Class. From the very first moment, man and machine enter into a harmonious relationship in the new S-Class.
This is also ensured by the newly developed and well-proven control concept. The key characteristic is rapid access to functions which are used particularly frequently. The system is therefore specifically designed for redundancy: depending on his preferred habits, the driver is able to control functions such as the radio, TV tuner, CD/DVD changer, telephone and navigation system either using conventional switches, via buttons on the multifunction steering wheel or with the help of the improved COMAND system. The direct control switches in the centre console are so ergonomically positioned that the driver is able to operate them conveniently and without looking down.
The innovative "Cockpit Management and Data System" - COMAND for short – has likewise been redesigned and now offers even more features. In addition to the familiar telematic and audio units, various vehicle functions which previously required individual switches have now been integrated into the system. The central operating unit is the new COMAND controller on the transmission tunnel. It is used to select the main and sub-menus with which the required functions are activated. The handrest can be flipped up to reveal the telephone keypad.
The large, pivoting COMAND colour display is positioned at the same level as the instrument cluster and is therefore even more visible to the driver. The COMAND system in the new S-Class includes a radio, CD/DVD player and a port for computer memory cards (PCMCIA cards) as standard. On request Mercedes-Benz will equip COMAND with a Europe-wide navigation system whose data are now stored on a hard disc. This allows even faster route calculation than before.
Seats: improved multicontour technology and innovative back massage function
Mercedes customers in the new S-Class are able to adapt the seats to their personal comfort requirements, as electrically adjustable 12-way front seats with lumbar supports are standard equipment. High-comfort heated seats with active ventilation, multicontour seats (front and rear) and dynamic multicontour seats (front) are also available as optional equipment.
Mercedes-Benz has improved this multicontour technology even further. The front seats are now equipped with eleven air chambers which enable the seat contours to be individually adjusted. New piezo valves on the air chambers operate much more rapidly than the previous technology, noticeably improving the dynamic response function of the multicontour seat. Depending on the steering angle, lateral acceleration and road speed, the piezo valves vary the inflation pressure and volume of the air chambers in the sides of the backrests within fractions of a second, providing the driver and front passenger with even better lateral support.
The dynamic multicontour seat is also equipped with separate air chambers in the backrest which are successively inflated and deflated in a programmed sequence. Passengers in the new S-Class can therefore enjoy a gentle back massage which stimulates the back muscles, assists the blood circulation and therefore helps to prevent premature fatigue. The Mercedes multicontour seat – available for the driver, front passenger and rear passengers – bears the seal of approval of "Aktion Gesunder Rücken", a German organisation which tests products for spine-friendly design.
Driver-fitness safety: less stress in the S-Class
The high level of comfort and modern technology in the new S-Class relieve driver stress and have a positive effect on driver fitness. This is confirmed by a comparative scientific study between the S-Class and competing models on an approx. 500 km route, during which specialists from DaimlerChrysler Research measured typical stress indicators. Under the same driving and traffic conditions, the average heart rate of drivers in the Mercedes saloon was up to six percent (or five beats per minute) lower than that of drivers in competing models.
In the view of specialists, this is a clear indication of the high stress-relieving safety provided by the Mercedes flagship model. It enables the driver to concentrate on the traffic situation and maintains his performance reserves for safe, confident responses in critical situations. The first-class comfort of the S-Class therefore not only benefits personal wellbeing, but also general road safety.

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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class, S 350, driving shot
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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class, S 500, driving shot
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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class, S 600, driving shot
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    Sophisticated simulation and calculation programs were used to support the development of the new S-Class design and made it possible to precisely combine form and technology.
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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class, design
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    High-strength, high-tech steel alloys represent half of the material used for the body-in-white of the new S-Class - an unprecedented percentage in automotive technology.
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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Available as optional equipment, the rear-seat entertainment system works via a control in the centre armrest.
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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class, interior
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    Mercedes-Benz S-Class, top-quality materials including fine wood, leather and aluminium guarantee an attractive interior. And the optional ambient lighting with optical fibres behind the wooden trim makes night driving a pleasure.
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