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Mercedes S-Class facelift here in November

Class of its own: The refreshed Mercedes-Benz S-Class will feature next-generation safety tech.

Benz’s updated S-Class can now swerve around obstacles, and more

29 Mar 2017

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific will launch its facelifted S-Class range in November, after its global headquarters announced that new active safety features will debut on the flagship sedan ahead of its public reveal at next month’s New York auto show.

The S-Class will switch from a ‘generation three’ active safety system shared with the current C-Class, to overhauled ‘generation four’ software and hardware that debuted last year on the new E-Class, while adding fresh features of its own.

Mercedes-Benz has also used the announcement to rename its active safety features, dropping the word ‘pilot’ from its branding at the request of German authorities worried that the word implied full autonomous driving. Most features are now preceded by the word ‘active’ and followed by ‘assist’.

New to the Active Steering Assist functions are Active Emergency Assist that can automatically brake the vehicle, activate its hazard lights and call emergency services if a driver does not respond to the steering wheel while using the lane-keep assistance function and Active Lane Changing Assist that now only requires a ‘one touch’ indicator to be used to automatically change lanes on the freeway.

Previously the E-Class required the indicator to be fully deployed. If the new S-Class cannot immediately change lanes, it will not indicate despite the indicator stalk being touched. It will also wait and change lanes when safe to do so.

Evasive Steering Assist is also new, which in the event of a forward collision will help the driver steer around the obstacle by controlling and moving the steering wheel, but only if the driver has already initiated the manoeuvre.

Mercedes-Benz stresses that it will not automatically ‘choose’ to swerve.

Active Braking Assist functions – Benz-speak for autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – now encompasses a congestion emergency braking function and cross-traffic braking functions, which can brake in an attempt to avoid side impacts with vehicles crossing the pathway of an S-Class in an intersection.

The limousine flagship will now be able to park itself remotely – matching the functions introduced on its rival BMW 5 Series and 7 Series models – and should a collision occur, Pre-Safe Sound can ‘noise cancel’ the impact to reduce the effect on driver and passenger ear drums.

Car-to-X communication is also introduced, allowing S-Class to ‘talk’ with other so-equipped Mercedes-Benz models through a cloud if a second vehicle has been involved in a collision on a particular route, it can advise the navigation system of the first vehicle ahead of time.

While the above features will make it to Australia, Active Speed Limit Assist will not. The new system syncs with the active cruise control – dubbed Active Distance Assist Distronic – to automatically set itself to speed signs and based on navigation data.

However, Mercedes-Benz manager of validation and communication for active safety and assistance systems Jochen Haab confirmed to GoAuto that the new S-Class features would be also be available on the E-Class from November, as the vehicle’s ‘generation four’ software and hardware are identical.

The S-Class features are already included in the E-Class prototype used in Australia to test for future active safety system updates, which was announced last week.

“To be clear the (S-Class) software used for that test (E-Class) car is already production approved, it is production ready,” Mr Haab explained.

“It is a little early, a little premature concerning the actual release date on the road, but all the processes we need for series production is put into the plant … for the S-Class in November.”

He further revealed how quickly new features would be rolled out, including on the facelifted C-Class range next year.

“The C-Class, the (pre-facelift) S-Class, the former E-Class, are ‘generation three’ systems, they have a certain setup,” he explained.

“Now we switched the whole architecture, there has been a generation change and the E-Class is the first ‘generation four’ system with completely different sensors and completely different hardware and completely different algorithms.

“Because sensors have become so much better we can get so much more data out of the sensors and we can assess more and more situations so we can drive a lot smoother, we can deal with more situations and address more emergency braking situations, with cross traffic for example.

“The E-Class is a ‘4.0’ system, the S-Class is ‘4.5’ and we will look into a ‘4.7’ and so on. You will see the rollout of level 4.X systems. Now that the S-Class is introduced later this year we will of course put that technology into the E-Class that is sold from then, and then next year in the C-Class and the SUVs.

“It’s going to move quickly.”

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