Be ahead: the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Superlative in design and technology

Jun 20, 2005
Generation-change at the pinnacle of automotive engineering: Mercedes-Benz presents the new S-Class. The new luxury saloon will be appearing in the showrooms of company-owned outlets and authorised dealerships as of autumn 2005.
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 continue to be the outstanding attributes of the S-Class. The new saloon also sets standards in driving dynamics with its agile handling, while offering even more driving pleasure with new, more powerful engines. The new S-Class is replacing a model series which is the world No. 1 in the luxury class, and of which around 485,000 have been produced since 1998.
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. It is a technological pacemaker with its pioneering innovations for more safety, comfort and practicality, and like its predecessors it will influence the automotive development of the future. The saloon exudes this poise and assurance even at first glance. Its design emphasises the confident, powerful and elegant character of the new S-Class, which makes every journey an experience.
Achieving even more technological highlights was a challenge for the engineers in Stuttgart and Sindelfingen, for the bar was set very high: the previous S-Class, which had been repeatedly voted the "Best Car in the World" since its presentation in 1998, was a hard act to follow. The progress Mercedes-Benz has made with the new saloon is based on this already high level. 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 seats with an extended massage function, from the night view assist system with the latest infra-red technology to the new COMAND system, and from preventive PRE-SAFE® occupant protection with additional functions to Parking Assist.
Safety: Brake Assist with radar and latest-generation PRE-SAFE®
In the field of vehicle safety, Mercedes-Benz is redoubling its commitment to accident prevention with the preventive system Brake Assist PLUS. This system 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. The adaptive brake light, which warns following traffic by flashing during emergency braking, also makes a major contribution.
Mercedes-Benz combines Brake Assist PLUS with the equally unique occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®, 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 multicontour seats to envelop and support the driver, front passenger and rear seat occupants. For the first time Mercedes-Benz has also integrated the side windows into this preventive protection system; they are automatically closed when an accident threatens.
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 vehicle brand with a comprehensive safety system of this kind, which already goes into action before an impending accident.
Support systems: DISTRONIC PLUS and the new night view assist
Brake Assist PLUS is available in combination with the likewise improved proximity control system DISTRONIC PLUS. This radar-supported system now operates at all speeds between zero and 200 km/h, and ensures even greater driver comfort. In stop-and-go traffic DISTRONIC PLUS keeps the new S-Class at the right distance from the vehicle ahead, automatically brakes the saloon to a standstill if necessary and accelerates it back to the required speed when the traffic starts moving again. In this way the support system reduces the driver’s workload and provides considerable benefits in driver-fitness safety.
The equipment package with Brake Assist PLUS and DISTRONIC PLUS also includes a new Parking Assist system which likewise uses radar sensors. These have a longer range than ultrasonic signals, therefore the driver receives earlier warning of an impending collision when reversing into a parking space.
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 infra-red light, which is invisible to the human eye and will therefore not dazzle oncoming traffic. Two infra-red headlamps illuminate the road, extending the driver’s range of vision to more than 150 metres when on low beam. Night view assist therefore makes pedestrians, cyclists, parked cars and other obstacles visible very much sooner. An infra-red camera mounted on the inside of the windscreen records the reflected image of the road ahead and displays this in the instrument cluster.
Dimensions: larger, more comfortable and even more luxurious
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, respectively, more than the previous S-Class. The wheelbase has increased by 70/80 millimetres to 3035 and 3165 millimetres, respectively. The body is also 16 millimetres wider and 29 millimetres higher than before.
These new dimensions create the conditions for an interior concept which provides every single passenger with first-class comfort. Interior parameters such as shoulder-room and elbow-room have increased by up to 39 millimetres, while headroom has again improved by up to five millimetres. Rear seat passengers in the long-wheelbase version benefit from a greater distance between the seats (+ 10 mm) and more knee-room (+ 11 mm) compared to the preceding series. The capacity of the boot has increased by 60 litres to 560 litres (VDA measuring method).
Luxurious exotic wood and chrome trim, attractively contoured controls in aluminium and carefully coordinated colours characterise the atmosphere in the interior, producing an immediate feeling of wellbeing. The dashboard with its sophisticated, sweeping lines is yet another masterpiece by Mercedes designers, for whom form and function are ideals which share equal status. Accordingly the cockpit not only conveys a feeling of safety, but is also extraordinarily well laid-out and practical – from the very first moment, man and vehicle enter into a harmonious relationship in the new S-Class.
Operating concept: colour displays, direct-selection switches and COMAND controller
That is also assured by the newly developed and thoroughly tested operating concept. This is based on findings from extensive ergonomic and perceptive psychology studies, and also takes into account the results of acceptance tests with Mercedes customers around the world.
The major characteristic of the intelligent operating concept in the new S-Class 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-receiver, 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-selection switches in the centre console are so ergonomically positioned that the driver is able to operate them conveniently and without looking down. It is also possible to operate the standard automatic climate control system in two different ways: via COMAND or using an attractively styled array of switches beneath the air vents.
The steering wheel and instrument cluster are the primary areas in the new operating concept. These integrate all the important information and functions required by the driver. The centrepiece is a colour screen with the latest display technology for a bright, crystal-clear image. The lower edge of the cockpit display has a plain-text array with which up to seven main menus for individual settings, display modes and operating functions can be controlled, depending on the level of equipment. For rapid selection of these functions Mercedes-Benz has developed the controls on the standard multifunction steering wheel further, using circular, illuminated five-way buttons which the driver operates by light thumb pressure.
Another new feature which improves operating convenience and allows a modern cockpit design is DIRECT SELECT – electronic control of the standard 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission by nudging an attractively styled lever on the right of the steering column. Thanks to this technology, Mercedes engineers were able to dispense with the usual selector lever on the centre console and redesign the tunnel covering.
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 telematics 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. If a car phone is fitted ex factory, the padded handrest behind the controller can be flipped up to reveal the telephone keypad.
The large COMAND colour display is positioned at the same height as the instrument cluster, and therefore even more favourably within the field of vision of the driver and front passenger. A new operating concept, up-to-date colours and clear, photo-quality graphics also make the menu selection procedure a gratifying visual experience.
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 drive. This allows even faster route calculation than before.
Comfort: new seats with a massage function and air suspension as standard
Mercedes customers are able to adapt the newly developed seats in the new S-Class to suit their personal comfort requirements. Electrically adjustable, 16-way front seats with lumbar supports are standard equipment. There is also an optional choice of luxury seats with heating and ventilation, multicontour seats (front and rear) and dynamic multicontour seats (front) whose squab and backrest contours adapt to the relevant driving situation to provide the best possible lateral support at all times.
The dynamic multicontour seat is also equipped with separate air chambers in the backrest which are successively inflated and deflated at the touch of a button, massaging the back muscles for the wellbeing of its occupant. The intensity and speed of the massage function can be adjusted in four stages by means of the COMAND system.
The suspension with its standard, improved AIRMATIC air suspension system also makes a major contribution to the excellent ride comfort in the new S-Class. At the touch of a button the driver is able to choose between a comfort-oriented or more sporty configuration. Beyond 120 km/h and in Sport mode, the suspension is automatically lowered by up to 20 millimetres to improve the handling dynamics, aerodynamics and fuel consumption even further.
The Active Body Control suspension system (optional, standard equipment in the S 600) is a further milestone in suspension engineering which has been improved even further for the new S-Class.
The newly developed braking system ADAPTIVE BRAKE has additional functions which for example assist the driver when moving off on gradients and shorten braking distances in the wet. The parking brake is electrically assisted for the first time – the brake is applied merely by pressing a button, and is released automatically when the car moves off.
Performance: over 26 percent more output from the new V8 engine
Three of the four engines available for the new S-Class are new developments by Mercedes-Benz. They generate up to 26 percent more output and up to 15 percent more torque. In addition to the 3.5-litre V6 engine with 200 kW/272 hp, a new eight-cylinder unit developing 285 kW/388 hp and a muscular 530 Newton metres of torque from a mere 2800 rpm upwards will already be available at the time of the market launch in autumn 2005. It accelerates the S 500 from standstill to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds.
From the first quarter of 2006 Mercedes-Benz will be extending the range of engines for the S-Class with the new V6 CDI engine, which has a particulate filter as standard in certain countries. This direct-injection unit has an output of 170 kW/231 hp and generates a maximum torque of 540 Newton metres from 1600 rpm. This means that the new S 320 CDI betters the preceding model by 13 percent in output and eight percent in torque.
The output of the twelve-cylinder engine in the top-of-the-range S 600 (available from the first quarter of 2006) has increased to 380 kW/517 hp, while torque has increased by just under four percent to a remarkable 830 Newton metres from 1900 rpm.
As standard equipment, the V6 and V8 engines for the new S-Class are combined with the unique seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC.
Success: number one in the luxury class
The new S-Class is replacing a successful series which has captured the top end of this market segment in every region of the world. Even in its last year of production the flagship saloon by Mercedes-Benz is the worldwide market leader among the world’s luxury saloons, with around 17,000 units sold (as of May 2005).
Accolades achieved by the previous S-Class include around four dozen prizes and awards in international competitions, with numerous titles such as "Best Car", "Most Innovative Saloon", "Highest Design Quality" or "World’s Finest Car".
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class at a glance
Model range
S 350: 200 kW/272 hp
S 500: 285 kW/388 hp
S 320 CDI: 170 kW/231 hp (from first quarter 2006)
S 600: 380 kW/ 517 hp (from first quarter 2006)
Dimensions (compared to preceding series)
Vehicle length: 5076/5206 mm = + 33/43 mm
Vehicle width: 1871 mm = + 16 mm
Vehicle height: 1473 mm = + 29 mm
Wheelbase: 3035/3165 mm = +70/80 mm
  • ADAPTIVE BRAKE with additional functions
  • Adaptive brake light
  • Brake Assist PLUS with radar sensors
  • COMAND with and COMAND controller
  • Crash-responsive high-comfort head restraints
  • Electric parking brake
  • Dynamic multicontour seat with new massage function
  • Night view assist based on infra-red technology
  • Panoramic sliding roof (for long-wheelbase version)
  • Second-generation PRE-SAFE®
  • Reversing camera
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Superlative in design and technology
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class:  Superlative in design and technology