Voted 2006’s Best Luxury Car by respected motoring magazine What Car?, the new S-Class combines state-of-the-art technology with effortless performance and peerless refinement: “When Mercedes-Benz launches a new S-Class the rest of the world gasps in amazement;” explained David Motton, Editor of What Car? magazine.
Revered for its peerless combination of elegance, performance, and innovation, the all-new S-Class is larger inside and out, with even greater luxury than ever before. A more powerful V-8 engine, industry-leading technology, and some of the most sophisticated automotive safety systems in production today, reassert the S-Class as the foremost luxury sedan in the world.
For several decades now, the S-Class has been the car to aspire to, a symbol that you’ve arrived, and also a very safe, secure, and comfortable big sedan. Factor in the pop-culture-icon success of high-luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, and it’s obvious that especially in the U.S. the landscape of the high-end luxury market has changed a bit in the past few years.
The ninth-generation S-Class is the benchmark by which all other luxury automobiles are measured. Across all three models, the S550, S600, and S65 AMG, you’ll discover a comprehensive range of high-performance engines, and the foremost in safety, comfort, and style.
That car was derided for its size and weight, so the S-class was shrunk and lightened. Competitive pressure, particularly from Lexus , brought cost considerations into the equation, which showed through in the subpar interior materials. And the styling, a huge departure from the slab-sided early ’90s car, was almost pandering in its attempt to be fun and approachable.
Designed to replace the S500, the new S550 features a boatload of new and exciting features designed exclusively for luxury loving customers. These features include everything from Brake Assist technology and available Parktronic knowledge to the highly toted, Mercedes created Electronic Stability Program. Equipped with a powerful 5.5 liter V8, the new S550 is top-of-the-line both insides and out.
The S550 went on sale in mid-February, starting at $86,525. Expect a fully loaded version of the S550 to top out at around $105,000. A $1,000 gas-guzzler tax is included in the sticker price of the S550.
Rather than disguising the car’s size, the exterior design is not afraid to play it up. Whereas the current model had soft, rounded forms, the new car’s flanks are long stretches of creased sheetmetal, punctuated by gigantic wheel arches. Up front, there’s a whole new attitude. As Mercedes-Benz design chief Hans-Dieter Futschik sees it, the old S-class "had a smiling face" that "looked at you and said, ’Come on, don’t you love me?’ " The new one dispenses with the puppy dog act and recaptures the S-class mojo with a more prominent grille that is larger and higher.
- Power tilt/sliding tinted glass sunroof with one-touch express-open/close and memory.
- Electrically heated rear window with auto-shutoff based on time, driving speed, and outside temperature.
- Laminated, infrared-reflective glass helps reduce radiant heat, UV, and noise penetration.
- Dual aero-blade windshield wipers. Completely heated washer system. Heated wiper in parking position.
- Rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers measure rainfall on windshield and adjust wiper speed and frequency accordingly.
- Dual heated power mirrors linked to driver’s seat memory with auto-dimming left-side mirror. Parking-assist right-side mirror can be programmed to tilt down when in Reverse.
- Programmable power side mirrors can fold in when car is locked and extend when front door is opened.
- Variable doorstop holds the door open at virtually any point, even on inclines/declines.
- Nano-particle paint is more resistant to fine scratches caused by car washes and environmental factors.
- Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge low-/high-beam headlamps with automatic level control, halogen auxiliary high beams, clear high-impact polycarbonate lenses and heated headlamp washers.
- Halogen front foglamps and left rear red foglamp.
- Selectable light-sensing headlamps, set via Auto position, automatically illuminate at dusk.
- Programmable daytime running lamps with auto-on override in darkness.
- Automatic lamp substitution uses a nearby lamp if a critical bulb fails.
- Touch Turn Signals flash three times with one touch of turn-signal lever. Auxiliary LED turn signal indicators are integrated into side mirror housings.
Locking and security
- SmartKey uses an electronic code to unlock the steering column and ignition. Removing SmartKey from ignition disables engine computer to help prevent unauthorized starting.
- SmartKey remote control integrates: Door lock/unlock buttons, trunk opener, removable valet key, and panic alarm. Driver may selectively unlock only the driver’s door and fuel filler, or all doors plus the trunk and fuel filler.
- SmartKey offers infrared-remote opening/closing of windows and sunroof, and can remotely turn on Active Ventilated front seats (if equipped). View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
- Driver-programmable driveaway locking automatically locks the doors when the car reaches 9 mph.
- Night security illumination uses the car’s exterior lights to help illuminate a path after parking.
- Locator lighting uses the car’s lights to help light a return path when the car is remote-unlocked in darkness. Unlocking the car activates the illuminated entry system.
- Anti-Theft Alarm Notification with towaway protection and remote panic feature.
- Emergency trunk release is located inside trunk and illuminated for 60 minutes after trunk is closed.
- Integrated three-button garage door control, compatible with HomeLink components and some other systems.
- Tele Aid GPS-based Stolen Vehicle Recovery allows law enforcement agencies to track and recover stolen vehicle.
- Tele Aid Remote Door Unlock allows owner to have doors automatically unlocked in the event that the SmartKey becomes locked inside the vehicle.
- Tele Aid Automatic Alarm Notification alerts Mercedes-Benz to contact vehicle owner if the antitheft alarm sounds
Infrared headlamps for more safety after dark
With the innovative night view assist, which made its debut in the new S Class, Mercedes-Benz is contributing further to reducing the risk of accidents at night. This system uses infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye and therefore does not dazzle oncoming traffic. Two infrared headlamps illuminate the road, significantly extending the driver’s range of vision when on low beam. An infrared camera mounted on the inside of the windscreen records the reflected image of the road ahead and displays this in the instrument cluster.
The interior-design team appears to have kicked out the cost accountants, judging from the richer environment. Supple leather covers not only the seats but also the doors and the in-strument panel. Mercedes has finally abandoned its black plastic buttons for ribbed chrome. Cool mood lighting emanates from under the wood strip that wraps around the cabin.
But of course, the German auto industry being what it is, Mercedes-Benz also has introduced its own iDrive-style control system into the S-class (to paraphrase what your mother used to say, if one of the German luxury carmakers jumped off a bridge, the other two would surely follow).
The knob controller itself works every bit as beautifully as BMW’s, and it sits just below a padded handrest perched at the leading edge of the armrest. The handrest opens up to reveal a keypad for the mobile phone. Nice as it is ergonomically, sometimes you just don’t want the distraction of wading through menus to operate frequently used devices. Mercedes does have separate climate controls and a few audio controls on the steering wheel, but too many functions require gazing at the screen.
The navigation system, which is standard, is contained within the Comand system. Ours has a course set for Saint Moritz, Switzerland, a scenic, 200-mile drive from our starting point in Milan. We roll out of the parking lot and set off.
Rolls-Royce makes much use of the word "waft" to describe its cars in motion. After only a few miles, it becomes apparent that the 2007 S-class wafts, too. The steering, which in previous generations was firm and purposeful, is now creamy, taking a split second to inject some polite resistance but never really requiring any more effort as you wind in more lock. Still, the system is very precise, reassuringly so as we thread our way through one tunnel after another, seemingly always alongside a semitruck or a car pulling a trailer.
- COMAND controller provides easy and convenient operation of the vehicle’s systems, such as audio, climate control, navigation, multicontour seat adjustments, telephone, and most vehicle settings.
- Multifunction steering wheel provides additional convenient controls for basic audio, voice control, and phone functions, as well as operation of the multifunction display.
- Fingertip shift buttons behind steering wheel.
- Built-in phone keypad and control near armrest for easy access to Hands-Free Communication System.
- Adjustable fiber-optic ambient lighting under the door and cockpit wood trim panels and additional ambient lighting throughout the cabin provide gentle illumination while driving in darkness.
- Electric park brake with automatic disengagement feature when vehicle is put into gear and driver applies the gas.
- Chrome-framed analog clock.
- Power rear-window sunshade with one-touch express up/down.
- Power windows with one-touch express up/down.
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror.
- 4-way (tilt/telescoping) power steering column linked to driver’s seat memory.
- Programmable easy-exit feature moves driver’s seat back and/or raises steering column when SmartKey is removed from ignition and restores position when key is reinserted.
- Four illuminated vanity mirrors (in sun visors and rear-cabin ceiling). Dual front and rear reading lamps.
- Front center armrest, which can be opened from both sides. Rear folding center armrest, with enclosed storage, includes two cupholders. Illuminated glovebox.
- Illuminated trunk with umbrella holder, grocery bag hooks, and tie-down hooks.
- Dual-zone automatic climate control with individual driver and front passenger control of temperature, speed and airflow distribution via hard keys (airflow and temperature only) or COMAND system.
- Adjustable high-flow/low-draft vents in dash, front doors, rear of console, footwells, and adjacent to rear doors.
- Electrostatic dust and pollen filter.
- Activated charcoal filter with smog-sensing automatic recirculation of filtered cabin air.
- Sun sensor helps compensate for the effects of direct sunlight on the occupants.
- Humidity/dewpoint sensor helps reduce window fogging during humid weather, and helps prevent overdrying of cooled air.
- Tunnel mode offers one-touch closing of all windows, the sunroof, and cabin air intake via the air-recirculation button. Pressing and holding button again restores previous window and sunroof positions.
- Seat-belt usage sensors allow climate control to focus on occupied seating positions.
Seating and Trim
- 14-way power-adjustable front seats with 3-position memory. Driver’s seat memory includes steering column and outside mirror positions, and is linked to SmartKey user-recognitions.
- Three-level heated front seats.
- Driver and front passenger power-adjustable lumbar support.
- Leather upholstery hand-fitted to each seat, head restraint, and center armrest. Leather-trimmed steering wheel.
- Hand-polished Burl Walnut wood trim on dash, COMAND controller console, and doors.
- Stainless-steel door sill trim. Velour floor carpeting and floor mats.
Audio, Navigation, and Telematics
- COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system integrates: hard-drive based navigation; AM/FM stereo/weatherband radio, and 8" color-LCD screen. Controls for Hands-Free Communication System; mode-dependent soft keys alongside screen for easy access to commands and menus.
- Fiber-optic network offers precise, high-speed communication among components.
- harman/kardon® LOGIC7® digital surround sound system, with 14 speakers, 5.1-channel amplifier, multichannel digital surround-sound technology1, and Digital Dynamic Volume Control.
- COMAND’s 20 gigabyte hard-drive-based in-dash navigation system uses Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to determine the current location of your car, with map database for the contiguous U.S., Canada, and Oahu, Hawaii.
- Integrated single-feed 6-disc changer.
- Memory card slot allows you to transfer digital audio files from your PC onto a memory and play them through the COMAND system.
- Hands-Free Communication System with voice control.
- Feature Spotlight Tele Aid uses GPS satellites plus a cellular link to provide 24-hour live assistance for emergency aid (SOS button), information (i-button), or Roadside Assistance Service (wrench button). Basic Tele Aid Security & Care service includes Automatic Collision Notification, stolen vehicle recovery, Remote Door Unlock service and Dealer Connect.2 View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Integrated Restraint System Driver and front passenger are each provided with an adaptive dual-stage front air bag, a side-impact air bag, and a 3-point seat belt with an Emergency Tensioning Device (ETD) and belt force limiter.3 Second-row passengers are each provided with a 3-point seat belt with ETD, belt force limiter, and side-impact air bag.
Feature Spotlight Window Curtain Air Bags In a side impact exceeding a preset threshold, a multi-chamber air bag deploys along the front and rear side windows on the affected side of the car.3 The integrated rollover sensor automatically deploys the ETDs and, if deemed necessary, the Head Protection Curtains in the event of a detected rollover.3 View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Adaptive dual-stage front air bags are deployed in response to frontal impact severity exceeding a preset deployment threshold.
Feature Spotlight PRE-SAFE® helps prepare occupants for a possible collision before it occurs. If PRE-SAFE senses a possible accident based on brake pedal application pattern, steering wheel input pattern, or ESP activation level, it will take action to help protect vehicle occupants better depending on the situation. Measures include: electrically tensioning the front seat belts, adjusting the front passenger seat (and rear seats, with Rear Seat Package) for potentially more favorable seat-belt and air-bag effectiveness, inflating side bolsters and seat cushions of front seats on vehicles equipped with multicontour seats, and (if possible rollover is detected or the vehicle is about to spin out of control) closing the sunroof (not applicable with Panorama roof) and closing the windows. If no collision occurs, PRE-SAFE releases the front seat-belt tensioners, and occupants may re-adjust their seats, the windows and the sunroof. View the interactive Feature Spotlight.
Occupant Classification System4 (OCS) automatically turns the front passenger’s front air bag on or off, based on the weight category determined by weight sensor readings from the front passenger seat.
ETDs are deployed in a front or rear impact exceeding a preset threshold of severity, or in certain rollovers. A front ETD will not deploy if seat belt is unfastened.
Automatic Collision Notification engages Tele Aid SOS function if an air bag or ETD deploys.
Universal LATCH system (Lower Anchor Tethers for Children) at second-row seating positions. Selectable passenger seat-belt retractors help secure child seats.
Front seat belts include automatically height-adjusting shoulder belts (as seats are moved fore and aft) and lower points attached to seat frames.
Front head restraints power-adjust for height and adjust fore and aft manually.
Automatically height-adjusting rear shoulder belts.
Three rear-seat head restraints, manually adjustable fore-aft. All three head restraints can also be remotely retracted by the driver for improved rearward vision when the rear seats are unoccupied. On models with power rear seats, rear head restraints rise automatically when seat belt is fastened.
The new PRE-SAFE brake represents a further milestone in car safety. The only system of its kind in the world, it automatically brakes the car before an impending rear-end collision. As a result, the PRE-SAFE® brake, in collaboration with Brake Assist PLUS, is able to prevent the collision or significantly reduce the severity of the accident. This new type of safety technology once again underlines Mercedes-Benz’s leading role in the field of technology.
The new system complements Brake Assist PLUS (BAS PLUS), which was introduced last year. BAS PLUS provides visual and audible warnings if it detects that the vehicle is about to run into the vehicle in front and automatically calculates the brake force required in order to prevent the crash. This brake boosting force is available the moment the driver steps on the brake pedal.
The PRE-SAFE brake goes a step further. If the driver does not react to the BAS PLUS warnings from the cockpit and there is a severe danger of an accident, the system triggers automatic partial braking and decelerates the S-Class at up to 0.4 g (approx. four m/s²). This is equivalent to around 40 percent of the maximum braking performance. Autonomous partial braking provides the driver with a further clear prompt to take action, on top of the visual and audible warnings. If he or she immediately goes on to activate the brake, maximum braking force will be available, and – depending on the given situation – it may be possible to prevent the accident at the last moment. If this is not possible, the PRE-SAFE® brake reduces the severity of the impact, which in turn reduces the risk of injury for the occupants of the car.
The PRE-SAFE brake is an assistance system, which assists the driver at critical moments. Even during automatic partial braking, the driver retains responsibility for the vehicle and decisive action on his or her part can help prevent the vehicle from colliding with the car in front.
This new technology rounds off Mercedes-Benz’s unique PRE-SAFE® occupant protection system, which features as standard in the S-Class. The system is based on the principle of prevention and before an impending accident pre-emptively deploys protective measures in the interior, ensuring that the airbags and seat belts are able to operate to optimum effect in the event of a crash. In future many of these pre-emptive measures will be triggered when the PRE-SAFE® brake is activated.
Like Brake Assist PLUS, the new PRE-SAFE® brake uses cutting-edge radar technology to record the situation in front of the car and to recognise the threat of an accident. Behind the S-Class’s front bumper trim are two near-range radar sensors with a range of 30 metres and an effective angle of 80 degrees. The additional long-range radar in the radiator grille has a range of 150 metres.
PRE-SAFE brake reduces severity of accident by 40 percent
Mercedes-Benz thoroughly tested the function and effectiveness of the new PRE-SAFE® brake both in field trials and in a simulator. Around 500 drivers too part in the field trials in Germany and in the USA, covering a total of around one million kilometres in the test cars.
Mercedes engineers carried out a series of tests over a period of several weeks using DaimlerChrysler Research’s simulator in Berlin. 70 drivers took part in these tests, which lasted half an hour. The scenario each time involved the participants being deliberately distracted by an accident on the opposite carriageway while the queue of traffic in front suddenly braked at the same instant. The results of the test, which reflects an everyday situation on the road, document the safety benefits offered by the S-Class’s cutting-edge assistance systems: thanks to the rapid reactions of the drivers, and support from BAS PLUS and the PRE-SAFE® brake, a total of 70 percent of these test drives remained accident-free. The tests therefore show that the likelihood of an accident can be significantly reduced by the S-Class systems.
In one third of the simulator tests the participants were unable to prevent a collision. Here automatic partial braking succeeded in reducing the severity of the accident by around 40 percent.
Just as with the airbag, belt tensioners, ESP and other groundbreaking Mercedes inventions, there was a clear focus on real accident data during development of the PRE-SAFE® brake. In interaction with Brake Assist PLUS, the new technology is able to make an important contribution towards lowering the high number of rear-end collisions or reducing the severity of this kind of collision. In Germany over 17 percent of all serious traffic accidents fall into the category of rear-end collisions. In the USA every third accident involving fatalities and injuries is a rear-end collision.
The Italian autostrada moves quickly, but heavy traffic has us slowing repeatedly. The new V-8 engine, now with four valves per cylinder and displacing 5.5 liters, is turbine smooth and virtually silent, only finding its voice at the upper reaches of the rev range. The S550 gathers speed quickly, more quickly than before, but doesn’t rocket forward with a vengeance (for that you need the twin-turbocharged V-12, which, according to the factory, sends the S600 from 0 to 62 mph in a supercar-like 4.6 seconds).
The frequent braking gives us ample opportunity to appreciate the good, old-fashioned, mechanically applied hydraulic brakes, which are much easier to modulate than the much-maligned and trouble-prone SBC brake-by-wire system in the E-class. That system was originally planned for the S-class as well, but Mercedes is now phasing it out.
In testing, the 5.5-liter V8 with 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque propelled the 4,270-pound S550 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The quarter-mile flew by in 14.2 seconds with a trap speed of 101 mph. The quickest runs were accomplished by letting the engine and seven-speed transmission do all the work.
Manually shifting by means of the steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons actually produced slower times, an indication that the shift algorithms have been massaged as much for speed as smoothness. In real-world driving on flat terrain, the engine is barely ticking over at 2,000 rpm at 80 mph, thanks to a combination of the 0.73-to-1 top gear and 2.65-to-1 final drive ratio.
Engine 5,461-cc DOHC 32-valve V-8. Die-cast aluminum alloy cylinder block. Aluminum alloy heads.
Fuel and ignition system Sequential fuel injection and twin-spark ignition. Four valves per cylinder with continuously variable intake and exhaust valve timing.
Fuel Tank Capacity 23.8 gal/90 liters - 2.9 gal/11 liters.
Transmission Steering wheel mounted shift buttons allow for Touch Shift gear selection. Electronically controlled shifting. Driver-adaptive programming adjusts shift points to the driver’s current driving style. Driver-selectable Comfort mode starts vehicle moving in 2nd gear, or a 2nd Reverse gear, and upshifts at lower rpm to help improve control on slippery surfaces.
Drive configuration Standard rear-wheel drive.
In the new eight-cylinder engine the engineers at Mercedes-Benz have optimised the effect of this four-fold, continuous camshaft adjustment by using what are known as shifting camshafts. These control the opening of the exhaust valves and improve the engine’s gas cycle even further. Depending on the ignition sequence, the exhaust cams are designed in such a way that the valves open at different ti-mes during the exhaust cycle. This reduces the pressure fluctuations in the ex-haust tract which are inherent to a V8 engine, and which lead to fluctuations in the residual gas content in the cylinders.
With a specific fuel consumption of 233 grams per Kilowatt hour (g/kWh) when operating at peak efficiency, and 345 g/kWh at part-throttle (2000 rpm, 2 bar), the engine has easily the lowest fuel consumption in this displacement and output class.
The new S550 saloons is specified as standard with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, the only passenger car transmission of this type in the world. 7G-TRONIC incorporates numerous engineering innovations which, in conjunction with the state-of-the-art engines, provide enhanced accel-eration and mid-range power, reduced fuel consumption and greater shifting com-fort. 7G-TRONIC is combined with the DIRECT SELECT gearshift, which replaces the conventional centre console-mounted automatic selector lever. A brief press of the DIRECT SELECT steering-column selector lever allows the driver to select the "P", "N", "R" and "D" positions. The commands are transmitted electronically, although the actual gear changes are actuated by cable.
The S/C/M/ mode selector switch on the centre console allows the driver to choose between three different modes: Sport, Comfort and Manual. As well as the transmission characteristics, these modes also allow the characteristics of the ac-celerator pedal and the suspension (springing and damping) settings to be varied. In Manual mode, the driver changes gear using the steering-wheel gearshift buttons.
The special characteristics of the seven-speed automatic transmission are attrib-utable to various different design features, the most important of which is the in-crease in the number of forward speeds from five to seven. This results in a wider overall ratio spread, while at the same time the ratios are also closer together than on the five-speed transmission. An optimal ratio can therefore be selected for vir-tually all driving situations. The fact that the electronic control unit has a greater number of ratios to choose from also reduces fuel consumption and increases smoothness. Depending on driving situation, average engine speeds at 100 km/h are approximately twelve percent lower than with a five-speed automatic trans-mission. The optimal matching of engine speed to driving conditions means that the engine is more economical on fuel and is also quieter in operation.
The Mercedes engineers have also made important advances in terms of the transmission’s control logic: if the 7G-TRONIC transmission needs to shift down quickly through several gears, for example under kickdown, a multiple downshift function comes into operation. Instead of changing gear sequentially, one gear at a time, the transmission shifts down by up to four gears at a time, depending on the driving situation, resulting in significantly faster shift times.
The new seven-speed automatic transmission is fitted with a hydrodynamic torque converter with lockup clutch. Whenever possible, the lockup clutch creates a virtually rigid connection between the engine and the transmission shaft, thus preventing slip between the pump and turbine, and thus power losses, in a wide range of operating situations. On the Mercedes-Benz seven-speed automatic transmission, the lockup clutch engages even in first gear, rather than only in the higher gears as on conventional automatic transmissions. On comfort grounds, the torque converter lock-up clutch is slip-controlled and therefore engages very smoothly.
Safety, comfort, dynamics and longevity - these and other outstanding features of the new S550 are based to an important degree on its body shell. It acts as a sturdy backbone that reinforces the chassis, ensures precise handling and prevents uncomfortable vibrations. It also fulfils the most stringent Mercedes safety guidelines and features an intelligent lightweight design, exemplary aerodynamics and noticeable improvements in the area of acoustics. The high design quality of the new flagship Mercedes model likewise owes a great deal to the body technology - with its carefully formed panels, precise joins and exact surfaces.
In other words, the body shell of the new S550 is a perfect example of the successful integration of a great variety of approaches, aims and requirements. Ultramodern development methods - from crash simulation to digital production planning - helped the Sindelfingen engineers reconcile conflicting objectives and achieve new first-class results. For instance, the static torsional rigidity of the body shell - an indicator of safe and comfortable handling - was improved by about twelve per cent relative to the previous S550. The flexural strength is about six per cent higher than that of the predecessor model.
These figures are the result of a careful selection of materials according to the proven Mercedes principle “the right material in the right place.” Steel, aluminium and plastic are the components of the material mix, with steel continuing to play the main role. But here too, the technology is changing: Conventional deep-drawing steels are becoming less important, and in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class they make up only about 30 per cent of the total. Instead, the experts in Sindelfingen are preferring high or ultrahigh-strength steel alloys, because they achieve a maximum of rigidity with a minimum of weight. Whereas these steels accounted for only six per cent of those used in the predecessor model, for example, they make up about 43 per cent of the total in the new S-Class.
In addition, ultra-high-strength alloys are used for the areas of the body important for passenger protection. These steels are shaped when they are still hot and therefore achieve an extremely high tensile strength of up to 1,500 megapascals, which is three times stronger than conventional steels. The side members and B-pillars are made of these ultra-high-strength steels.
Sturdy underbody structure with eight side member sections
The occupant cell proves to be almost completely resistant to deformation in front, rear or side collisions or when overturning. Passengers can thus be assured of an intact space even when the speed of collision is high. High-strength steels and panels with greater material strength play an important role here, as does the installation of additional support members.
A complex and carefully designed underbody structure forms the sturdy foundation of the passenger safety provided in the new vehicle. Eight side member sections, four cross members and a three-part tunnel reinforcement stabilize the passenger compartment in a crash and ensure that impact forces are distributed over a large area. By way of comparison, the predecessor model of the new S-Class was equipped with two continuous side members in the underbody area.
Instead of being flat, the sheet metal panels between this multiple-piece supporting structure have a new, asymmetric, arched structure. This structure was precisely calculated and lends the panels a great deal of rigidity, about five times as much as in the predecessor model. Greater rigidity simultaneously means less vibration: The arched structure reduces vibrations to a minimum and thus makes an audible contribution to the exemplary driving comfort of the new S-Class.
Mercedes has a patent on the asymmetrically arched floor pan, which was developed by the Sindelfingen engineers together with their colleagues from Daimler-Chrysler research. It is based on insights from the field of bionics.
Side structure made of ultra-high-strength steel for the first time
In a side crash, the main elements that come into play to stabilize the occupant cell are the sturdy side skirts, the B-pillars, the four cross members in the underbody section and a solid steel section below the dashboard. For the first time, Mercedes -Benz is producing the sills and B-pillars with ultra-high-strength steel alloys, which are far superior to all other materials in terms of their tensile strength. By connecting the B-pillars to the structure of the roof frame over a large area, the Mercedes engineers can not only avoid using a transverse piece in the middle of the roof but also reduce the cross section of the A-pillars and thereby improve visibility for the driver.
The doors are made of an aluminium-steel combination with interior frames of aluminium die castings and extrusion profiles to reinforce the window frames. The protection from lateral impacts is improved by high-tensile steel reinforcing sections on the inside. The Mercedes engineers paid extra attention to the door hinges as well and developed special high-strength fastening surfaces. This results in a sturdy coupling in the side structure that provides effective protection to passengers during a lateral collision.
In addition to a high level of safety, the doors of the new S-Class have functions which make access and egress more convenient. A newly developed hydraulic system ensures that from an opening angle of 15 degrees the doors are arrested in any position — even on gradients or in strong winds. When needed, an electric servo-locking mechanism closes all the doors (and the boot lid).
Rear structure for extreme impact stresses
As with front and side impacts, the new S-Class satisfies the most stringent safety requirements for rear crashes too, such as the new U.S. laws specifying an offset crash (70 per cent) with an impact speed of 80 km/h.
The occupant cell remains largely undamaged despite this extremely heavy strain, thanks to the meticulously designed deformation zone in the rear. In addition to the aluminium transverse section and the steel crash boxes of the bolted rear module, it consists of two sturdy side members and a cross member in the area of the boot floor. The suspension sub-frame of the rear axle likewise forms an energy-absorbing plane in the event of an impact. The fuel tank is located in the protected area in front of the rear axle.
Still greater commitment to pedestrian safety
Another focus of development for the safety systems of the new S-Class was the issue of pedestrian protection. It is not new for Mercedes-Benz. The engineers of the Stuttgart-based automotive brand have long been making efforts to reduce the risk of injury to the “weakest” road users - pedestrians and those on two-wheeled vehicles. Bodies with flat surfaces, energy-absorbing bumpers, laminated glass windshields, collapsible exterior mirrors, rounded door handles and “recessed” windshield wipers are only a few of the details of the Mercedes passenger cars that serve this purpose. Mercedes’ active safety innovations such as the BAS Brake Assist also make an important contribution to passenger safety, because they can prevent accidents involving pedestrians from happening in the first place or else significantly reduce the speed of impact. Studies conducted by the Sindelfingen engineers confirm this.
With the new S-Class, the long-standing Mercedes commitment to pedestrian safety reaches a new high point:
- The bottom side of the bonnet was designed in such a way that it deforms to absorb the impact energy in the event of an accident involving a pedestrian. A newly developed, flexible hinge supports the deformation of the engine bonnet to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists during an accident.
- The front wings are connected to the upper side members by a special fastening element. It has a precisely calculated rigidity and bends according to design during an impact.
- The deformation space between the engine bonnet and the assemblies below it was enlarged in two ways: Firstly, through the new external contour of the saloon, which is about 22 millimetres higher in the front section than in the predecessor model. Secondly, the engine, shock absorber towers, reservoirs and control equipment were placed up to 13 millimetres lower.
- The Mercedes engineers have also reduced the overall height of the wind-shield wiper system in order to enlarge the deformation space.
- The front bumper of the new S-Class features a flush-fitting spoiler lip with a foam filling, so the pedestrian is evenly cushioned right away.
Seat-belt force limiters for front and rear passengers
In addition to the two-stage frontal airbags for the driver and the front-seat passenger, the standard occupant safety system of the new S-Class also includes six lateral air cushions: two sidebags in the front-seat backrests, two sidebags in the rear side panelling and two large windowbags.
All the passengers have three-point automatic seat belts. The driver and front passenger seats and the outer seats in the rear are also equipped with seat-belt tensioners and belt force limiters. The force limiter of the front belt straps is adaptive: After attaining a certain maximum level of force, the force limiters switch to a lower level of force – the belts are loosened so that front passengers can plunge deeper into the airbags. This reduces the impact on the chests of the occupants.
The newly developed steering column serves the same purpose. During a front-end impact, it collapses like a telescope by up to 80 millimetres.
Crash-responsive headrests with additional comfort features
The crash-responsive NECK-PRO headrests are another special feature of the safety system of the new S-Class. They reduce the risk of whiplash injuries in a rear collision. Once the sensors have determined that such a collision has occurred and that the impact has exceeded a defined level, the pre-stressed springs in the headrest are released. As a result, the headrest is shifted some 40 millimetres forward and 30 millimetres upward within a split second. In this way, the heads of the front-seat passengers receive support at an early stage.
After NECK-PRO has been activated, the headrests can be pushed back to their original position by hand, using the supplied tool, after which they are once more immediately ready for use. Mercedes-Benz is offering the NECK-PRO feature for driver and front passenger as an option in conjunction with extra-comfortable headrests.
Mercedes safety after the accident too
The comprehensive Mercedes safety system PRO-SAFE also takes into account the phase after the traffic accident. To prevent follow-on damage, the fuel supply of the engine is automatically blocked in the new S-Class in accidents above a certain severity. The hazard warning signal also switches on to warn drivers approaching from behind and to prevent new accidents.
After an accident in which airbags are deployed, all the side windows open just enough to leave a narrow space through which the interior can be ventilated. At the same time, the door locks are automatically released so that injured passengers can be rescued more quickly. Specially designed crash joints prevent the front and rear doors from becoming deeply wedged during an impact. The passengers can also open the doors after an accident, because Mercedes-Benz uses cables that remain intact after deformation for the internal activation of the door locks. The new S-Class is the first Mercedes passenger car to have markings on the front and rear windows showing the emergency services places where they can cut through the A- and C-pillars in the event of a serious accident to quickly reach injured passengers and provide them with medical care.
Good aerodynamics contributes to driving safety too
The good lift factors at the front and rear axles show that the exemplary aerodynamics of the new S Class not only enable a new record Cd value but also have a positive effect on driving safety. They are up to 14 per cent lower than the corresponding figures of the predecessor model and constitute reliable indicators of high braking stability, secure road-holding and low crosswind sensitivity.
The aerodynamics also makes an important contribution to road safety through design details that give the driver an unclouded view through the front side windows during rain. The Mercedes engineers achieve this by deliberately guiding the rainwater backwards, downwards or to the side. In the new S-Class, the side windows, mirror glass and door handles remain for the most part clean, because the rainwater hitting the front window collects in run-off tracks on the A-pillars, is led from there backwards over the roof with the help of the airflow, and then flows downward and away in a channel on the trailing edge of the roof. The housings of the exterior mirrors are shaped in such a way that rainwater flows outward and drips away in a narrow surrounding groove.
Light: bi-xenon technology in combination with curve and cornering light
The headlamps of the S-Class incorporate state-of-the-art lighting technology and make an important contribution to road safety. For the dipped headlights, high-luminosity halogen projection-beam lights come as standard equipment; separate H9 reflector lights are used for the full-beam lights. The indicator lights and side-lights are likewise accommodated in the elegantly proportioned headlight housing, while the fog lamps are integrated into the bumper fascia. Thanks to the driving light assistance system at the windshield, which comes as standard, the head-lights and tail lights switch on automatically when it gets dark, when rain or snow hinders visibility, or when the S-Class enters a tunnel.
The optional bi-xenon headlights also come with two new lighting features that provide a significant improvement in driving safety after dark:
- The active curve light improves the illumination of the traffic lane by up to 90 per cent. Whereas conventional dimmed headlights are able to provide illumination for a distance of some 30 metres when entering a curve with a radius of 190 metres, the new headlight feature extends this range to about 55 metres. Since the way the light is cast corresponds to the steering angle, the driver sees the course of a curve earlier than when using conventional dipped headlights. The active curve light works when the headlights are set to either dipped or full beam.
- The cornering light is automatically activated when the indicator is switched on or the steering wheel is rotated for a turn. It illuminates the area in front of the vehicle up to 65 degrees to the side and to an extent of about 30 metres. The cornering light thus illuminates areas of the road that remain dark when conventional headlight technology is used during turns. The advantage of this is that it makes pedestrians and cyclists next to the vehicle clearly visible even in darkness. The cornering light also gives drivers better orientation when they take curves at slow speeds (up to 70 km/h). The halogen reflector for the cornering light is located in the housing of the main headlamp.
The equipment package with bi-xenon headlights, curve lights and cornering lights also includes a dynamic headlight levelling control and a headlamp-cleaning system using a high-pressure water jet.
Flashing brake light for preventing rear-end collisions
The tail lights of the S Class are elegantly separated by two chrome-trimmed body-coloured mouldings. They divide the segments for rear fog lamps, indicator lights, rear lights and brake lights.
The adaptive brake light here is a special technical feature Mercedes-Benz has developed to help prevent rear-end collisions: If the driver has to brake hard at a speed of more than 50 km/h, or if he receives support from the BAS Brake Assist in an emergency, the brake lights of the new S Class flash and warn the drivers behind. If the S-Class then comes to a standstill after such an emergency stop, the brake lights once more shine continuously and the hazard warning signal switches on.
- Active Body Control (ABC) Feature Spotlight -Active Body Control (ABC) uses a system of sensors and electronically controlled high-pressure hydraulics to instantly counteract the forces of vibration, pitch, dive, squat, and roll. Setting ABC to ’Sport’ mode virtually eliminates body roll in cornering- $3,900
- Distronic PLUS Feature Spotlight -With new and enhanced features, Distronic adaptive cruise control has become Distronic Plus. This optional system uses two onboard radar systems to distance you from moving vehicles ahead. It offers true stop-and-go functionality by braking the vehicle to a complete stop or automatically adjusting the throttle up to 125 mp.- $2,850
- Heated Steering Wheel -The steering wheel heater can rapidly heat the leather portions of the steering wheel for the enhanced comfort of the driver in cold weather. Wires embedded in leather portions of the steering wheel rim heat the wheel. After about seven minutes, the system’s heating capacity is automatically reduced.- $450
- iPod Integration Kit -Taking your personal music collection with you wherever you go has never been easier. Mercedes-Benz now offers seamless integration of your iPod into the audio system of your S-Class. With an interface that is compatible with any dock-connector equipped iPod device, your iPod charges while it is playing. Steering-wheel controls and a visual display of the track information make your iPod a perfect fit with your Mercedes-Benz — and help you keep your attention focused on the road.- $425
- Panorama Sunroof -Choose the Panorama roof option and open up a whole new look — inside and out. Occupants enjoy an expansive view of the sky above, through a panel of heat-reflecting safety glass that’s 5 mm thick.- $1,000
- Power Side Window Sunblinds -The Power Side-Window Sunblinds cover the entire rear window area to reduce rear temperature and increase comfort by diffusing direct sunlight away from the rear passengers.- $700
- Wood/Leather Steering Wheel -Made from Burl Walnut wood and richly grained leather to match your interior, this steering wheel puts luxury in the palm of your hands. Available in Black, Dark Grey, and Savanna.- $550
- 18" 5-Spoke Wheel, Titanium Silver Finish -Wheel size: 8.5J x 18ET 43, Tire size: 255/45 R18- $0
- 19" Multispoke Wheel, Sterling Silver Finish -Front wheel size: 8.5J x 19ET 43,Tire size: 255/40 R19, high performance; Rear wheel size: 9.5J x 19ET 43, Tire size: 275/40 R19, high performance- $1,200
- 18" 5-Spoke Wheel, Chrome Finish -Wheel size: 8.5J x 18ET 43, Tire size: 255/45 R18- $1,000
- Dynamic Rear View Monitor -This innovative driver assistance advancement enables you to see what’s behind your vehicle when reversing. It also makes parallel parking and backing into a parking space easier and more accurate than ever before. When you shift into reverse, a wide-angle camera mounted discreetly in the trunk lid recess area near the license plate captures an image of what’s behind the vehicle and displays it in the COMAND screen on the dash. This image is overlaid with dynamic guidelines, which react to steering wheel inputs to assist you in making accurate parking maneuvers. These guidelines can be alternated between parallel parking and perpendicular parking, depending on the driving need.- $750
- Drive-Dynamic Multicontour Front Seats with 4-Stage Massage Function -Adding the Drive-Dynamic Multicontour Front Seats provides the ultimate in seating ergonomics and comfort. Fifteen pneumatic chambers in the seat can be adjusted for optimal seating position. Four levels of massage help fight fatigue by stimulating back and leg muscles. For added control when cornering, the system also continuously monitors driving conditions and adjusts air chambers within the seat for added support on the side where you need it to help counteract lateral G-forces. If PRE-SAFE® senses that a collision is imminent, it will inflate the air chambers in the cushions and seat backs to help hold the driver and the front passenger in their positions.- $1,800
Premium I - $1250
- 401 Heated and Active Ventilated Seats: Enhance comfort for your passengers with front seats that circulate air through perforations in the upholstery via miniature internal fans, as well as provide low levels of relaxing heat.
- 536 SIRUS Satellite Radio: SIRIUS Satellite Radio is the exclusive satellite radio provider of Mercedes-Benz and is available on all Mercedes-Benz vehicles as a dealer or factory installed option that includes a 6-month service subscription.
- SIRIUS delivers more than 125 channels of the best programming in all of radio including 100% commercial-free music, sports, news, talk, entertainment, traffic, weather and data. SIRIUS is the Official Satellite Radio Partner of the NFL, NBA and NHL and broadcasts live play-by-play games of the NFL, NBA and NHL. Plus NASCAR moves to SIRIUS in 2007. See your dealer or visit sirius.com for more information.
- "SIRIUS" and the SIRIUS dog logo are registered trademarks of SIRIUS Satellite Radio Inc. All other trademarks, service marks and logos are the property of their respective owners.
Premium II - $2850
- P2 Premium Package 2 includes everything in P1 Premium Package 1, plus:
- 889 Keyless Go Keyless Go lets you lock and unlock your vehicle as well as start and stop the engine without using a key. A transponder located in the Smart Key identifies you — allowing you to unlock the door simply by touching the handle, and to start your vehicle’s engine at the touch of a button.
- 220 Parktronic The optional Parktronic system can help you avoid obstacles that might be outside of your sightlines when parking in tight spaces. The short-range ultrasonic system in the front and rear bumpers detects nearby objects in its fields of view, then triggers audible signals and illuminated displays on the dash and rear cabin ceiling to help you maneuver with confidence.
Premium III (Delayed availability for the S550 Night View Assist; the P3 package is not yet available. Please see your dealer for details.) - $6550
- Night View Assist: Night View Assist allows you to see more at night, particularly when oncoming vehicle headlights temporarily blind your view of the road ahead.
- Two infrared projectors mounted inside the vehicle headlamps emit an infrared light beam approximately 500 feet in front of the car. Invisible to the human eye, this reflected light is picked up by a small camera mounted inside the vehicle. The view appears on the interior instrument cluster high-resolution screen, helping you recognize and react to potential trouble much sooner.
- Dynamic Rear View Monitor: In reverse, a color rearward video camera projects a high-resolution image onto the 8" flat-panel monitor in the instrument cluster. Displayed on-screen is the space behind the vehicle, as well as colored guidelines that adjust according to the vehicle’s orientation — helping guide the driver safely into parking position.
- Drive-Dynamic Multicontour Seats with 4-Level Massage Function: Keeping drivers energized and comfortable makes for a safer, more enjoyable drive. These seats feature 15 pneumatic chambers, allowing passengers to find the perfect seating position and enjoy four levels of soothing massage.
321 AMG Sport-Package - $5600
- The spirit of performance takes form in the S-Class AMG Sport Package. An aggressive AMG-designed front air dam tames the wind, sending it past sculpted, lower side sills and around a seductively styled rear apron.
- This package also includes huge, staggered-width 19" AMG 5-spoke light alloy wheels wrapped in 255/40 R19 tires in front, and asphalt-grabbing 275/40 R19 high-performance rubber in back. If you’re looking to further accentuate the athletic personality of your S-Class, the AMG Sport Package is the answer. *
- High-Speed Rated tires provide substantially increased tread wear and reduced ride comfort compared to H rated tires. Serious wheel and tire damage may occur if the vehicle is operated on rough or damaged road surfaces or upon encountering road debris or obstacles.
325 Rear Seat Package - $2900
- Four-Zone Climate Control
- Offer personalized comfort for driver and passengers alike with rear-cabin controls and digital display, separate left and right temperature selectors, and automatic blower control.
- Rear Heated and Active Ventilated Seats
- Enhance comfort for your passengers with rear seats that circulate air through perforations in the upholstery via miniature internal fans, as well as provide relaxing heat.
- Power Rear Seats
- With eight-way adjustability, dual pneumatic lumbar supports, and power head restraints, this feature adds the final touches of comfort and enhanced safety to your S-Class.
designo Espresso Edition - $11120
- The cool sophistication of designo Mocha Black metallic paint sets the stage for an engaging experience within.
- Find enchantment in soft designo Armagnac Brown Nappa leather hand-fitted to the seats, center armrests, and door-trim inserts.
- Lustrous Natural Maple wood trim is the perfect complement to this rich motif, while the plush designo floor mats are finely tailored with black leather borders.
designo Graphite Edition - $11120
- Beneath a rich designo Graphite metallic exterior, you’ll find a tasteful blend of luxurious textures.
- Take in the elegance of designo Corteccia Nappa leather applied by hand throughout the charcoal cabin and enjoy the look of Matte Oak wood trimming the doors, console, steering wheel, and beyond for added visual flavor. Exclusive designo floor mats are edged in black leather.
designo Mystic White Edition - $11120
- Shimmering designo Mystic White multistage paint presents an irresistible invitation to the world of elegant style.
- Once you’re inside, supple Porcelain Nappa leather, applied by hand throughout the cabin, welcomes your touch.
- Hand-finished Black Piano Lacquer wood trims the doors, console, steering wheel, and overhead assist grips to stunning effect. designo floor mats trimmed in black leather treat every guest to a final touch of indulgence.
- Active Body Control (ABC) Feature Spotlight $3,900
- Distronic PLUS Feature Spotlight $2,850
- Heated Steering Wheel $450
- iPod Integration Kit $425
- Panorama Sunroof $1,000
- Power Side Window Sunblinds $700
- Wood/Leather Steering Wheel $550
- 18" 5-Spoke Wheel, Titanium Silver Finish $0
- 19" Multispoke Wheel, Sterling Silver Finish $1,200
- 18" 5-Spoke Wheel, Chrome Finish $1,000
- Dynamic Rear View Monitor $750
- Drive-Dynamic Multicontour Front Seats with 4-Stage Massage Function $1,800
- P1 - Premium 1 $1,250
- P2 - Premium 2 $2,850
- AMG Sport Package $5,600
- Designo Graphite Edition $11,120
- Designo Mystic White Edition $11,120
- Designo Espresso Edition $11,120
Local dealers: Miami Herald