THE next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship sedan due in Australia early next year will raise the bar with world-first technologies in both safety and comfort, including a pre-collision ride height adjustment system and frontal airbags for rear seat passengers.
The ‘Pre-Safe Impulse Side’ system is able to detect when a side impact is imminent and raise the ride height of the vehicle by up to 80mm in a bid to offer more protection to occupants.
This works in conjunction with newly developed ‘E-Active Body Control’ technology, which Mercedes says adds semi-supporting hydropneumatics to the adaptive air suspension system.
“The air springs bear the base load of the vehicle body and gradually regulate the level,” the company said. “The hydropneumatics generate dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces, and actively support and dampen the vehicle body.”
Unlike other adaptive systems, E-Active Body Control is actually a predictive system, relying on five multicore processors, more than 20 sensors and a stereo camera to scan and read the road ahead before suitably adjusting the ride characteristics.
Meanwhile, the new tubular airbags in the rear seat compartment are located in the front seatbacks and are designed to deploy “extremely gently” and offer extra protection in the event of a frontal collision.
In the front compartment, Mercedes has also developed a new centre airbag designed to prevent occupants from clashing heads in the event of severe side impacts.
Among other innovations outlined ahead of the new S-Class’ unveiling in September, Mercedes engineers have fitted a new active rear-axle steering system to improve the manoeuvrability of the large luxury sedan.
Up to 10 degrees of counter- and same-direction steering angle is on offer from the new system, granting the long-wheelbase S-Class a sub-11m turning circle.
According to Mercedes, this is equivalent to many compact vehicles.
The changeover from counter-steering to same-direction steering reportedly occurs at 60km/h, with the finer tuning of the system linked into the various driver modes, just like the main steering system.
With the Active Parking Assist system with 360-degree camera employed, Mercedes says “the vehicle can slip into tight parking spaces while recognising whether anybody is moving within that space”.
Local specifications and pricing are still to be announced, but Mercedes has indicated that many of the new safety systems will be optional at launch.
Through the first half of this year, the current S-Class posted 59 sales, which places it fourth in the $100,000+ upper-large passenger car segment.
For reference, the BMW 6 Series GT claimed top honours in the segment with 94 sales, while the more closely matched 8 Series Gran Coupe and 7 Series occupied second and third on 64 and 62 units respectively.