Mercedes S-Class Makes Technology Gains

Mercedes-Benz raises the technology bar on its new flagship ’07 S-Class sedan via the development of advanced safety and comfort features.

Mercedes-Benz raises the technology bar on its new flagship ’07 S-Class sedan via the development of advanced safety and comfort features. The new sedan, which goes on sale in early 2006, will be offered in two body lengths, 199.8 in. and 205 in., making it up to 1.7-in. longer than its predecessor. The overall wheelbase of the sedan is increased by as much as 3.2 in., while the body is 0.6-in. wider and 1.1-in. taller than the outgoing model.

Mercedes is using the ‘07 S-Class to debut its new Brake Assist Plus system, which utilizes radar to determine the proper amount of brake pressure needed to avoid a collision by determining the distance of vehicles ahead and providing a warning to the driver if the gap between vehicles is too small or the closing speed is too high. If a potential collision is imminent, the system calculates the ideal braking assistance necessary to bring the vehicle to a safe stop and supply the needed pressure when the driver applies the brakes. To test the effectiveness of the system, MB engineers invited more than 200 drivers in the U.S. and Europe to test the system, covering more than 279,000 miles. The tests showed accident rates fell by 75% through the use of Brake Assist Plus. To provide even more protection for vehicle occupants, the system is tied into MB’s Pre-Safe occupant protection system. If a potential accident is about to occur, as determined by excessive braking deceleration or an imminent skid, Pre-Safe tensions the front seatbelts as a precaution and inflates air cushions in the seats to envelop and support the driver and front passenger. The side windows also automatically close to provide added protection.

The new S-Class features a number of conveniences, including an upgraded Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system that automatically brings the vehicle to a compete stop if necessary and then return back to the desired speed without driver intervention. The system utilizes two radar units, long-range 77 GHz and new short-range 24 GHz, to provide data to the S-Class’ electronic control unit which calculates engine, transmission and braking parameters required to maintain safe distance from the vehicle directly in front. MB engineers also added night vision to the list of techno-gadgets on the new S-Class. The system consists of two infrared headlamps and an infrared camera mounted on the inside of the windshield; it records the reflected images from the road ahead and projects them onto a display in the instrument cluster. The German automaker says the night vision system extends visibility of objects in the road by up to 134.5 ft., when compared to low-beam bi-xenon headlamps.

Of course, no European luxury sedan would be complete without a programmable vehicle interface system, and the S-Class does not disappoint. Mercedes’ says its system, dubbed “Command,” is user-friendly with easy-to-reach control switches located directly on the center console and redundant operation switches located on the steering wheel. For those who want to truly dive-in to the vehicle’s features, a Command controller, located on the transmission tunnel, enables users to click through the various sub-menus to program the vehicle’s phone, radio and navigation system settings.