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Armoured Mercedes S600 set to protect at G20
Mercedes-Benz wins G20 security car contract with heavily armoured S600 Guard
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10 Sep 2014
By TIM NICHOLSON in STUTTGART
MERCEDES-BENZ will supply 16 grenade-resisting, VIP-protecting S600 Guard armoured vehicles for the forthcoming G20 summit in Brisbane under a lease agreement that will cost the federal government $1.8 million.
The German luxury car-maker won the tender to supply the protective limousines – each starting at about $600,000 in Europe – for the Brisbane G20 summit, which will be held on November 15-16 and will bring together the leaders of the world’s developed and emerging nations who represent 85 per cent of the population and 75 per cent of global trade.
Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific this week confirmed the successful bid, but the company said the high level of security surrounding the event prevents it from providing further details about the deal.
“Mercedes-Benz submitted a proposal for the leasing of vehicles to support the G20 and was successful in this bid,” the company said in a statement, directing any further queries to the federal government.
The 16 left-hand-drive S600 Guards are currently on their way to Australia, and it is believed that drivers are undertaking specialist training in preparation for the gathering.
A spokesperson from the federal attorney-general’s department also confirmed Mercedes had won the lucrative G20 contract, but due to security reasons could not comment on “operational matters related to the use of the vehicles for the G20 summit”.
“As hosts of this year’s G20 summit, the Australian government has an obligation to provide armoured vehicles for visiting foreign dignitaries,” the department said.
“Following a tender process, during which both Australian and international companies were invited to quote, Mercedes Benz was selected.
“The full fleet of armoured vehicles for the G20 will be made up of a combination of Australia’s permanent fleet of armoured vehicles, and the 16 leased Mercedes-Benz S-Guard vehicles.” The federal government’s official tenders website confirmed that the lease agreement with Mercedes-Benz Aust/Pac would cost $1,793,258 and is valid from March 25, 2014, to December 1, 2014.
GoAuto can confirm that GM Holden in conjunction with British-based defence and security firm BAE Systems also submitted a quote for the tender, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
As GoAuto has reported, Holden lost out on a contract to supply the federal government with a new fleet of BAE-armoured Australian-built Caprice sedans to replace the ageing fleet that has protected high-level government minsters, including four prime ministers, over the past 10 years.
This contract, which is separate to the G20 contract, was won by BMW Group Australia which will supply nine armoured 7 Series High Security vehicles, costing about $500,000 each, to the government to ferry ministers and visiting dignitaries around.
Mercedes-Benz Aust/Pc also tendered for the government contract, but was unsuccessful.
The S600 Guard, which was officially revealed early last month, carries a VR9 protection rating, which is the highest level possible, and can tolerate an attack from two grenades as well as an AK47 rifle.
Power comes from a 390kW/830Nm twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine matched with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission, as found in the regular S600 on which it is based.
While the regular S600 weighs about 2185kg, the armoured version weighs in at almost double that – a hefty 4300kg.
Despite the extra bulk, Mercedes says the Guard can complete the 0-100km/h dash in 6.2 seconds – up from 4.6 seconds for the standard S600 – and has an electronically limited top speed of 210km/h.
There is no official fuel economy figure available but a Mercedes-Benz Guard spokesperson told GoAuto in Stuttgart this week that the vehicle would consume about 15 litres per 100km on the European combined cycle, up from the 11.1L/100km of the standard S600.
The Guard is used to protect world leaders, high-level politicians and senior managers of major corporations in 100 countries around the world, including in war zones, but the German brand was unable to provide specific countries or companies, citing security reasons.
The extra weight is understandable when adding up the unique features of the S600 Guard. The front and rear windshields alone weigh 135kg each, while reinforced steel panels and inserts help protect occupants from gunfire, and grenade or bomb attacks.
Underbody reinforcement also covers most of the underside of the vehicle – a measure that Mercedes claims is the first of its kind for an armoured vehicle.
While the passenger cell is protected with the generous use of reinforced steel, the boot and engine bay are not covered to the same extent, with the company saying this would add too much weight to the car.
The cabin is identical to the regular S600, save for a few buttons up front that control various safety and protection measures.
The other major difference is the view out the front window, which is slightly distorted when looking left or right due to the thickness of the glass. While Mercedes-Benz was unable to detail the exact thickness, we estimated it to be about 50mm.
The S600 Guard is built at Mercedes’ Sindelfingen plant in Germany and each vehicle starts life on the regular S-Class production line before being moved to a special Guard facility to have a multitude of safety features fitted.
While the powertrain remains basically untouched, Guard engineers have included a new rear differential and heavy-duty front braking hardware (including bigger discs with six-piston callipers) to take into account the additional weight over the regular version.
The vehicle features Airmatic air suspension with variable damper control, reinforced suspension components and adapted functions such as the electronic stability program to cope with the bulk.
Massive Michelin PAX run-flat tyres are standard with a tyre-pressure monitoring system, which Mercedes says allows “an escape from the danger zone up to a distance of 30km even with damaged tyres”.
The VR9 protection level means the S600 Guard can withstand attacks from new Russian-produced guns that can fire a bullet at thousands of metres a second and hit a target 2.5km away.
As far as a grenade attack is concerned, Mercedes says while occupants could be injured, they are likely to survive.
In fact, Mercedes-Benz Guard marketing and communications spokesperson Markus Nast said there has not been a fatality in any Guard vehicle in the six years he has been in the role, and he believes there has not been a death since the 1920s.
Potentially life-saving measures include a cabin-activated fire extinguisher system that emits foam to the underbody if a fire is detected.
If smoke or irritant gasses are detected, a fresh air system will shut off any external to internal air vents and pump in fresh air from a tank in the boot.
If the car loses all power sources, there is a special tool in the front door pocket that can open the massive window manually, and there are two batteries in case one is damaged during an attack.
An external communications system allows occupants to communicate to people outside the car, with microphones fitted to the external mirrors and speakers housed in the front fender.
In Europe, the regular S600 costs about €138,000 ($AU191,500), but the Guard costs approximately three times this amount, pushing it to €414,000 ($AU574,670). Mercedes-Benz was unable to confirm pricing, which can fluctuate depending on the options chosen.
Mr Nast confirmed that a custom-built S600 Guard could take between nine and 18 months to be produced and delivered, but if the situation was urgent, he said that a car could be dispatched between two and 12 hours, depending on the location.
While Mercedes-Benz has been developing armoured vehicles for 80 years, the S600 is the first Guard vehicle to make it to Australia.
Mercedes-Benz Aust/Pac senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy said the use of the S-Class Guard for the G20 could have a positive impact on the brand as it highlights its technological capabilities.
“We have been building Guard vehicles since 1926 so no other manufacturer has the experience,” he said.
“We have a reputation for protection. It’s a brand positive because the vehicle isn’t ostentatious. I think a lot of other protected vehicles from other parts of the world don’t have the presence. They certainly don’t have the dynamics, they don’t have the engineering integrity.
“We are the only one that offers that protection (VR9). It’s an example of the engineering integrity or the absolutely clear focus of our company. It’s a demonstration of what we can do.”
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