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Mercedes-Benz unveils new S-Class flagship

Mercedes-Benz packs all-new S-Class full of advanced driver assist and safety tech

3 Sep 2020

MERCEDES-BENZ has at long last debuted its new-generation S Class executive sedan, with the big four-door flagship brandishing a new look and even more copious amounts of technology than before.


Measuring in at 5179mm long in short-wheelbase guise, the new S-Class is 54mm longer, 55mm wider (1954mm) and 10mm taller (1503mm) than the outgoing model while the long-wheelbase ‘L’ variants gain an extra 34mm in length and 12mm in height, with both riding on noticeably longer wheelbases (+71mm/+51mm).


The extra length has resulted in an extra 41mm of legroom in the back of the short-wheelbase variants and 24mm for the long wheelbase while a 36mm wider front track has resulted in an extra 38mm of front ‘elbow room’.


The rear track has also been widened by 51mm while boot capacity is up 20 litres to 550L.


In terms of styling, the S-Class has been brought neatly into line with the rest of the recently launched Mercedes line-up, sporting softer, more rounded features with gentler contour lines.


Not unexpectedly, the biggest changes have been made at the front where a new, much bigger grille dominates the revamped fascia, flanked on other side by a set of longer, frowning headlights.


Underneath is a secondary, almost full-width grille which dispenses with the current model’s triple intake arrangement.


The character and parabolic lines running down the sides of the body have all been softened and rounded off, helping the new S-Class to achieve a drag coefficient of just 0.22.


Under the bonnet, just two powertrains will be available at launch, both being in-line sixes.


The first option is a 2.9-litre turbo-diesel mill developing 210kW of power from 3400-4600rpm and 600Nm of torque between 1200-3200rpm.


This engine will be responsible for motivating the S350d, S350d 4Matic and S400d 4Matic, although in the latter it will be tuned to churn out a meatier 243kW/700Nm.


The second is a turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol unit good for 270kW/500Nm in the S450 4Matic and 320kW/520Nm in the more potent S500 4Matic.


In either guise, the petrol engine is also supported by Mercedes’ proprietary EQ Boost starter-generator which can provide an additional 16kW/250Nm during acceleration.


Regardless of engine choice, power is sent to the driving wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission with the 4Matic nomenclature denoting the inclusion of all-wheel-drive.


Official fuel consumption for the diesels range between 6.4 and 8.0 litres per 100km while the petrol hybrid ranges from 7.8 to 9.5L/100km on the WTLP combined cycle.


CO2 emissions meanwhile are pegged at 169-211g per kilometre and 178-216g/km respectively.


While the six-cylinder variants will be the only ones offered from launch, Mercedes says a V8-powered mild-hybrid variant will be available soon after with a plug-in hybrid variant also due sometime next year.


Described by brand chief executive Ola Källenius as a “technological tour de force”, the new S-Class is jam packed full of features, technology and safety gear all designed to make it as luxurious and as safe as possible.


According to the brand, the “10 most important new features” on the new S-Class include the debut of the second-generation MBUX infotainment system, MBUX Interior Assist, 250-colour LED ambient lighting, new-generation driving assistance package, frontal rear airbags, optional rear-axle steering system, over-the-air software updates, optional E-Active Body Control suspension, optional Drive Pilot semi-autonomous driving system and the optional Digital Light headlight technology.


One of the key new innovations of the second-gen MBUX system is its 3D driver display which “allows spatial perception of the scene with a real 3D effect thanks to eye-tracking” and voice-recognition


The eye tracking – and other functions included in the MBUX Interior Assist system – comes courtesy of a camera mounted in the ‘overhead control panel’.


The same system, along with new self-learning algorithms, is also used to perform many of the functions included in the new MBUX Interior Assist suite, one of the many steps the new S-Class has taken towards autonomous motoring.


According to Mercedes, the system “recognises and anticipates the wishes and intentions of the occupants” by analysing their body language, hand movements and head direction and then responds “with corresponding vehicle functions”.


“For example, if the driver looks over his/her shoulder towards the rear window, Interior Assist automatically opens the sunblind,” the brand said in a statement.


The 250-colour LED ambient lighting meanwhile has been woven in with the driving assistance systems, providing a visual reinforcement of their warnings.


Befitting of a “technological tour de force”, the Driving Assistance Package has been bolstered and enhanced with multiple new functions including hands-off recognition, active distance assist Distronic (up to 210km/h), active steering assist, traffic sign assist, active lane keeping assist (up to 250km/h), active lane changing assist, active emergency stop assist, attention assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, active blind spot assist, exit warning function and evasive steering assist.


Following from these advanced safety functions is the new Pre-Safe Impulse Side which – paired with the optional E-Active Body Control suspension set-up – raises the vehicle body by up to 80mm if an imminent side impact is detected via radar sensors.


The theory behind the new innovation is that the energy generated by the collision is diverted to and through the door sills and into the chassis of the vehicle rather than into or through the door and therefore the cabin.


Another new safety feature aimed squarely at rear occupants are the new – optional on L variants – rear frontal airbags which deploy from the front seat backrests “particularly gently” thanks to their tubular design.


Also optional is a new rear-axle steering system Mercedes says cuts 1.9m from the S-Class’ turning circle, even on the all-wheel-drive long wheelbase versions.


Designed to make the more-than-5m-long four-door as manoeuvrable as possible in town and as agile as possible on the open road, the system can offer up to 10 degrees of counter or complementing steering angle.


In a brand-first, the new Digital Light technology offers drivers an extra level of assistance while on the move by projecting warnings and literal guidelines onto the road surface ahead of the car while also having the ability to shine a spotlight on detected pedestrians in the dark.


The system is comprised of 1.3 million micro-mirrors which reflect the graphics out onto the road surface, similar to how a video projector works.


According to Mr Källenius, the plan with the new S-Class was to “offer customers innovation, safety, comfort and quality as never before”.


“We concentrate on producing the most desirable cars in the world,” he said. “This is what we promise, and it is the best way towards more profitable growth.”


Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG member of the board of management for sales Britta Seeger went one step further to say the S-Class had “always stood for the ultimate in automotive luxury” and that it set new standards in safety and comfort.


To the end of July, Mercedes-Benz has shifted 79 S-Classes, accounting for 18.9 per cent of the $100,000-plus upper large car segment.

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