Suspension: Only floating is better

Nov 21, 2019

A Mercedes-Maybach always aspires to offer the best suspension comfort in its class. The Mercedes-Maybach GLS suspension is therefore based on that of the Mercedes-Benz GLS. The Mercedes-Maybach features the AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System Plus (ADS+) as standard. The E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension based on the 48 V on-board electrical system, an innovation in suspension technology that meets the highest standards, can be ordered as an option. A special Maybach drive program tuned for maximum ride comfort has been developed for both suspension variants.

The front wheel suspension is a double wishbone suspension with the upper wishbone in a high position, which benefits spring travel when driving off-road. All transverse control arms and the steering knuckles are weight-optimised forged aluminium components. Their light weight and rigidity ensure low unsprung masses and create good conditions for uncoupling wheel suspension vibrations and oscillations from the vehicle body. The design of the front axle ensures separate introduction of longitudinal and lateral forces, which benefits both the vehicle dynamics and suspension comfort.

Even the links of the four-link rear suspension are largely made of aluminium and are optimised based on the same principles as the front axle parts in terms of weight, handling dynamics and vibration comfort. Wheel control is by a cast aluminium lower wishbone and a forged aluminium upper strut rod, as well as an upper camber strut of sheet steel.

Constant level

The standard-fit AIRMATIC air suspension responds particularly sensitively. It combines air suspension bellows with adaptive ADS+ dampers whose characteristics can be fully automatically varied at each individual wheel, in both the compression and rebound stages. While driving, a sophisticated sensor system and algorithms set the dampers according to the quality of the road to ensure that, for example, driving over a bump with just one wheel is not transmitted to the entire axle and the interior. At the front axle the springs and dampers are housed in one suspension strut, but they are separate at the rear axle.

The driver personally and the selected drive programs can change the suspension set-up. However, the AIRMATIC control unit also uses sophisticated sensors and algorithms to analyse the driving situation and make automatic adjustments. This includes the level control, which is part of AIRMATIC. It keeps the ground clearance constant irrespective of the vehicle load but also makes changes. By way of example, the vehicle body is lowered by 15 mm at high speeds to reduce the aerodynamic drag and increase driving stability. At speeds below 30 km/h, lowering of the car by 25 mm can be activated to make it easier for occupants to get in and out.

Superlative ride comfort with E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL

Even better ride comfort and agility, plus completely new functions such as recovery mode, are provided by the newly developed E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension, which is combined with the AIRMATIC air suspension. This is the only system on the market that can individually control spring and damping forces at each wheel, suppressing rolling, pitching and lifting movements. Together with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and the curve inclination function CURVE, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL makes an exceptional level of comfort possible, and supports the claim of Mercedes-Benz to build the world's most intelligent SUV suspension.

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL operates with 48 volts. The system is based on the AIRMATIC all-air suspension system and offers the same all-round self-levelling. Furthermore, the electrically driven hydraulic pump generates dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces and actively support and dampen the vehicle body, e.g. during linear and lateral acceleration or when driving on uneven roads. The body no longer squats or pitches during braking and acceleration, and on poor road surfaces the system is even able to recuperate energy, roughly halving the energy requirement compared with the preceding system in the S-Class.

Additional features to enhance occupant comfort:

  • In CURVE drive mode, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS actively leans into bends by up to 3° in three stages, like a motorcycle. This reduces the lateral forces acting on the occupants. Cornering is therefore made much more pleasant, especially for the front and rear passengers.
  • The ROAD SURFACE SCAN function comprises a stereo multi-purpose camera that continually records the road surface ahead of the vehicle. The suspension struts are then activated so as to substantially reduce the body movements when driving over surface undulations, as the suspension responds even before the uneven stretch is reached. This enhances the comfort in particular away from paved roads.
  • The recovery function is included as part of the Off-Road drive program and helps to free the vehicle more easily if it gets stuck in sand, for example. If possible the suspension level is automatically raised and lowered automatically several times, which alternately increases or reduces the ground pressure of the tyres and therefore improves traction. The car rocks itself free.

Exclusive to the Mercedes-Maybach: the Maybach DYNAMIC SELECT drive program

DYNAMIC SELECT offers a Maybach drive program developed specifically for the Maybach. It is fully focussed on ride comfort for the rear passengers, while the Comfort drive program offers balanced ride comfort for the front and rear passengers.

The Maybach program ensures that the body movements are at their lowest precisely at the Executive seats. There is therefore a vibration node here to minimise the amplitudes. Other program settings focus on the engine and transmission:

  • Very flat accelerator curve for chauffeur mode
  • Transmission tuning with fewer gearshifts for smooth driving
  • Starting off in second gear
  • No stop/start function.