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Chassis: The first suspension system with "eyes" now sees even better

Jul 19, 2017

In 2013 the S-Class made a technological statement of superiority with ROAD SURFACE SCAN. The system recognises road bumps in advance and compensates them. In the new S-Class this suspension control is further improved: The system's new stereo camera has a much better performance and works at speeds up to 180 km/h.

The S-Class Saloon's curve inclination function is another comfort enhancement available for the first time. The body tilts to the inside of the bend by up to 2.65 degrees, thereby reducing the lateral forces acting on the passengers.

Comfortable, sporty, efficient or individual handling characteristics can be selected at the touch of a button in the centre console with DYNAMIC SELECT. This modifies parameters such as the characteristics of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering according to the driving mode selected.

The default setting is the well-balanced and fuel-efficient "Comfort" mode. More agility and dynamism is provided by "Sport" driving mode, with more progressive steering characteristics, a sporty, taut suspension setup, fast throttle response and modified shift points. This further increases the car's sportiness. The suspension and powertrain have a more dynamic setup.

The "Eco" driving programme is designed to keep fuel consumption to a minimum. It includes modified accelerator characteristics, shift points and suspension setup. Depending on the model, the gliding function and recuperation are also controlled (see "Under the microscope: ECO Assist").

"Individual" mode allows the driver to vary the individual parameters – from the steering and powertrain to the suspension.

AIRMATIC: enhanced comfort and driving dynamics

The standard-fit full air suspension system AIRMATIC with continuously adaptive damping control allows the spring travel to be maintained whatever the vehicle load, by means of continuous level adjustment. Depending on speed, the vehicle level is automatically regulated and lowered by up to 20 mm when driving at over 120 km/h. Aerodynamic drag is reduced, and handling stability is improved by the car's low centre of gravity. The driver is able to select a 40 mm higher vehicle level if the road surface is poor, or, for example, when negotiating a tricky garage entrance.

The fully automatic adaptive damping system included as standard adjusts the damping at each wheel to the current requirements. The single-tube dampers have two valves for the rebound and compression stages. The ideal operating point can be selected at all times on the basis of a broad scope of information relating to acceleration, vehicle level or vehicle speed, for example.

MAGIC BODY CONTROL: the world's first suspension system with "eyes"

The new S-Class is even better able to recognise road bumps in advance. The MAGIC BODY CONTROL suspension system optionally available for the eight-cylinder models comprises ACTIVE Body Control, ROAD SURFACE SCAN and, for the first time in the Saloon, the curve inclination function.

The "eyes" for the ROAD SURFACE SCAN function are provided by a stereo camera fitted behind the windscreen, which scans the road up to 15 metres ahead of the vehicle and delivers a precise image of the road contours. Based on the camera pictures and driving status information, the control unit constantly calculates the best control strategy for overcoming unevenness such as prolonged bumps.

This means that the vehicle can make the right force available in advance, and for each individual wheel. The suspension is adapted to the relevant situation within fractions of a second, enabling body movements to be considerably reduced. The result is unprecedented ride comfort. As ROAD SURFACE SCAN makes use of an improved stereo camera, it now also works in subdued light and at speeds up to 180 km/h.

In the Active Body Control system of Mercedes-Benz, the four suspension struts are fitted with hydraulic cylinders (so-called plungers) in order to adjust the force in each strut individually. This means that the system can almost completely compensate for lifting, rolling and pitching movements of the body. The control unit receives information on the current driving situation from various acceleration sensors and then compares these data with those from the pressure sensors in the spring struts and the level sensors on the control arms. The system then computes the control signals for the servo-hydraulic valves at the front and rear axle to ensure precisely metered oil flows.

Once oil flows into the plunger cylinders, this modifies the tracing point of the steel springs integrated into the spring struts, generating the necessary force to counteract the body movements. Thanks to a constantly available hydraulic pressure of up to 200 bar, ACTIVE BODY CONTROL is able to stabilise the body within fractions of a second.

Curve tilting function: available in the S-Class Saloon for the first time

Adjustment of the suspension strut base points is also used for the curve inclination function, which is available in the S-Class Saloon for the first time. The vehicle leans into bends in a similar way to motorcyclists or skiers. The lateral acceleration acting upon occupants is reduced in a way akin to driving on a banked curve, and passengers sit more firmly. On country roads in particular, the new curve tilting function heightens motoring enjoyment and comfort. The aim is not to achieve higher cornering speeds, but a new driving experience: The S-Class glides elegantly through bends.

With the curve tilting function, the base points of the steel springs integrated into the ABC suspension struts are raised by plunger cylinders on one side of the vehicle, and lowered on the other, depending on the bend being negotiated. This allows the vehicle to incline automatically and continuously in fractions of a second on bends – depending on the road angle and vehicle speed. The effect is felt much more, since the vehicle would normally tilt outwards.

This innovative system recognises bends with the help of a stereo camera behind the windscreen, and of the lateral acceleration sensor of the ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension. The curve inclination function is activated together with ROAD SURFACE SCAN in the "Comfort" setting of Dynamic Select, and can be separately selected in the "Individual" setting.