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Old 27th August 2013, 11:43   #1
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Default Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview


The new Mercedes S-Class is set for its Euro launch on the 20th of September, 2013. Team-BHP got a chance to get behind the wheel.

I step out of my hotel room in Toronto, and am greeted by a line of brand new W222s.

The S500, S400 and S350 Bluetec were on offer for the drive. In multiples!

I spent most of my time in the diesel S350 - the most relevant engine to the Indian market. It has the same V6 motor as the current S-Class, but tuned up for 258 BHP and 620 Nm of torque, mated to a 7-speed conventional automatic gearbox. As expected, even the diesel has exceptional levels of engine refinement. For such a large car, body roll is well controlled too, thanks to the active suspension. Mercedes claims a 50% improvement over the previous S-Class in terms of torsional rigidity (chassis). Ride quality also follows in the steps of the previous 'S' - there might even be a noticeable improvement here, but given the smooth Canadian roads, it's hard to tell.

Since we traversed the world's straightest highway and Canadian road conditions are quite different from ours, I'm going to leave the driving impressions for when the car is tested in India. Instead, I'll give you a closer look at what the S-Class has on offer, including some cool technological tricks it has up its sleeve to further flatten the road, cushion seat belt forces, avoid hitting animals, steer itself and more.

At the front, it’s a beautiful mix of the newer Mercedes design language (headlights + independent front lip like the A-Class, B-Class, CLA etc.) seamlessly blended with the styling cues of the previous generations of the S-Class.

Interestingly, this seems to be the last surviving Benz to wear the pop-up star monogram on the hood as standard.

The wheelbase is the same as the previous gen S-Class (3035 mm for the Long-Wheelbase variant we get in India), but the front and rear track (i.e. distance between the wheels on the same axle) have increased by 24 & 31 mm respectively.

Despite my doubts about the looks of the smoothened-over rear end in pictures, I grew to like it very soon in person. It has an upmarket Maybach / Bentley feel to it. Don't underestimate the influence that aerodynamics have when it comes to shaping cars these days.

V8 S500 engine is pictured here. The engine bay can house everything from a V6 to a V12. There's a lot of plastic cladding, rubber beading and other materials to deaden engine sound and minimize wind noise.

19" 5x2 spoke wheels keep the S-Class looking classy, without being dull.

An extremely flat underbody (once again, beneficial to the aerodynamics).

New Mercedes design signature of a dropping side crease gets emphasized in certain lighting conditions.

Side by side with the facelifted E-Class.

The current generation (outgoing) W221 S-Class.

A reminder of the classics. The lineage. The legends.

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Old 27th August 2013, 11:44   #2
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Default The Interiors


At the front, Mercedes has kept it clean and simple. The dash is dominated by 2 panoramic 12.3 inch displays. The resolution of each display is 1440 x 540 pixels - very respectable by automobile standards. One display takes over the function of the instrument cluster, while the other handles the entertainment & comfort functions.

The 2-spoke steering when seen in isolation might look like a futuristic design attempt from the 1980s, but in reality, it blends in with the cabin just fine. It might not have a sporty 3-spoke feel, yet it certainly isn't something I'd complain about in the long run. One area that took a little getting used to was that the steering felt like it was placed off-center. Felt like the wheel was mounted closer to the right, and that I was being pushed to the left by the wide center console.

When compared to the outgoing W211, the W222 has 12 mm more headroom for the driver, along with 14 mm more shoulder room and 10 mm more elbow room. It's noticeable too, as I really had to stretch in order to rest my elbow on the door armrest while holding the wheel.

This neat little dial animation happens when a wider display area is required at the center of the instrument cluster (e.g. to display the night vision camera). Notice how no information gets omitted.

(Animated Image)

The S-Class moves the steering wheel forward + upwards and the seat backwards in order to make entering the car easier (for the driver). In this picture, you can also see 3 controls stalks behind the steering wheel; unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to have a clear view of them all when seated in the driver's seat. You need to peer around to see what they do, until you get familiar with their functions.

The driver's seat gets the usual adjustments, along with heating, cooling and memory functions. Finer changes (e.g. lumbar, shoulder, lateral support and the massaging function) have to be set via the main display. The top-right button lets the driver control the front passenger seat - useful for quickly freeing up some leg-room for the rear passenger seated behind it.

The S-Class gets an elegant single line of toggle buttons for the most-used features (e.g. A/C controls). This is a pleasant change from the over-buttoned center consoles found on other Mercedes cars.

A finer detail: These pop-out knobs are present for each set of A/C vents, to control the volume of air-flow.

Column mounted gear-shifter frees up valuable space on the center console.

The COMAND controller has a nice cushioned palm-rest arcing over it. Dedicated function buttons ahead of the controller let you jump between seat settings, navigation, radio, media, telephone and vehicle settings in a single button-press.

The leather cover can be pulled back to reveal the phone dial-pad. Pressing the star button at the top shows a 'favourites' screen.

The favorites screen displays a quick list of the twelve customisable functions. (Oops, language was set to German when I shot this).

If you're on a menu screen where rotating the ring around the COMAND controller has no function associated with it, the ring locks in place to prevent you from turning it in vain. Very nifty!

Knurled metallic roller for volume control is a pleasure to use. Press it down to mute.

The interior gets around 300 small LEDs for the instrument displays & ambient lighting package. The lighting can be customized to use any of the 7 ambient light colours on offer. Personally, I'm not a fan of the vivid colours (red & blue seen in some of the pictures), although the more neutral colours look nice. There are also 5 levels of adjustable brightness to suit everyone's taste in each one of the 4 individual zones (dash-display, front, ceiling and rear). When set up right, the ambient lighting can really make the S-Class feel like a special place to be in at night.

Covered storage ahead of the comand controller houses the DVD player and a rubberized shelf for your cellphone & keys. The shelf also flips up to reveal 2 cup-holders.

The center console storage is double hinged, so the lid can open up either towards the passenger or the driver, preventing the cover from obstructing access to the compartment.

Mercedes has a brilliant little trick for keeping your car smelling good. There's a bottle of perfume (4 different scents available) in the glove-box that gets inducted into the air-conditioning system. There are 3 settings for the intensity of the scent, ranging from barely noticeable to the full-on Axe effect. This system works well, and will save the S-Class interiors from unnecessary add-ons like Ambi-pur & My Shaldan dispensers. Wanna talk about finer details - how about on a molecular level? Mercedes says that their branded scents are created in a way that they don't change the interior smell permanently, and neither will the perfume molecules be deposited on fabric surfaces or passengers' clothing!

On the back of the scent sampler pack - wonder how they figured this out.

• Integrated WiFi hotspot = standard feature.

• Climate control system uses GPS data (position & altitude) to determine the direction of the sun, and adjusts cooling zones within the car accordingly.

• 'Driveshow' on the navitainment system shows passengers your progress along the route (similar to the travel progress map you see on aircrafts).

• The center screen uses Google Maps for navigation. It can display live traffic information, 3D buildings and Street-view too.

• If you like a song on the radio, you can tag it and the car will download it via iTunes.

• The climate package offers 'Panel heating' too. Translated, the arm-rests are heated (both on the door-pads & the center armrest).

• Active lateral support adjusts the shoulder area of the seats to hold you in place during hard cornering. You can feel it working to give you extra support around fast corners.

• Haptic happiness: The pop-up door locks have the most lovely cushioned bounce if you push them down to manually lock the car.

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th August 2013 at 11:50.
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Old 27th August 2013, 11:44   #3
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Default At The Rear


Despite some beefy engines on offer, I much preferred to be seated at the rear of the S-Class. Mercedes have made use of every inch of space in the car to add to rear passenger comfort. Not merely in terms of the 14 mm greater knee-room (compared to the outgoing model), but in terms of intelligent engineering and packaging as well.

If you want to enjoy the back seat of the S-Class, the Executive seat and Chauffeur packages are worth indulging in. They enable the rear seats to recline further, and also help by freeing up more legroom.

The rear passenger seats gets 2 memory functions; useful, given the number of possible combinations. Note the recline button at the bottom left. It is a one-touch way to get the seat into its most relaxed position. The following pictures illustrate exactly what happens.

First, the front seat begins to slide ahead. The headrest also flips down automatically so as not to hit the windshield, while the backrest angles forward to free up more legroom.

The heel-rest stowed away at the bottom of the seat slides out. Shorter people won't quite reach it, but it's a great place to rest your feet if you are 5'11" and up.

Then, as the seat-back reclines towards its maximum 43.5 degree angle, the calf support begins to extend out, lifting your legs. It can be adjusted for angle as well as length.

This is the end result, making full use of the 43.5 degree maximum recline angle. Pretty blissful.

Another small touch: the head-rest wings are manually adjustable (just like on airplanes). This can help cocoon your head in place whilst you doze off.

The executive seat also comes with add-on cushions for the headrest, as well as the extending footrest. They are extremely soft & comfortable, though I thought they could have been integrated into the S-Class interior more seamlessly.

A couple of things to note on the seat cut-away shown below: 2 fans visible on the base & one on the backrest for the seat heating and cooling functions, pneumatic cushions for the adjustable lateral support (with green tube) and lumbar support (with multiple coloured tubes for inflating different parts of the cushion), and several layers of different types of seat cushioning with perforated layers for the ventilation system. Further, each seat gets more than a dozen electric motors.

You'll also notice a white airbag at the base of the seat. This comes into play if the seat is in its fully reclined position, which increases the chances of the passenger sliding through / under the lap-belt in an accident. If required, this cushionbag inflates and raises the front edge of the seat cushion, making it less likely that the passenger submarines through the bottom of the seat belt. In case you're wondering, this airbag can be replaced without the need to change the entire seat.

With the First-Class Suite package, the center console continues from the front of the car, right up till the rear parcel shelf. It contains two foldable tables, and the cup holders are capable of cooling / heating your drink too. The pull-out tables have an aluminium structure, which I found to be quite sturdy.

The included remote has a 4-position switch at the top that lets you select which of the 4 screens it will control: the main display at the front, splitview for the front passenger, and the left & right rear passenger screens. The remote isn't solely for controlling entertainment, it is also the tool with which you adjust seating, the massage function, vehicle settings and anything else appearing on screen.

Each of the rear passengers get a pair of foldable AKG headphones that stow away neatly in the door pockets. Each set has a selector switch that lets you choose which screen you wish to hear the audio from.

14 air cushions dedicated to the massage function in each seat (5 shown active in the picture below). There are 6 different variations & intensities of massages to choose from. Each inflating 'bubble' puts pressure on your back in a very focused area. All 14 bubbles can be controlled independently in any order, intensity or at any speed. As a result, this doesn't feel anything like a typical vibrating or repetitive massage chair. A bonus feature here is the 'hot stone massage', which heats up the massage elements to give a unique sensation. I'll spare you the yin-yang marketing talk here, but will say it felt great. It's interesting to note that the heating elements used for the massage are independent from the larger ones for warming the seats. This lets the massage pads get up to temperature extremely fast and allows them to provide very localized heat, making them usable on warmer days without making you feel hot.

Each seat also has adjustments for lumbar support, shoulder cushions and lateral support.

The S-Class mobile app lets you control seat heating, massaging and more via your mobile device (iOS & Android only at the moment).

The panoramic sun-roof does a great job of 'opening up' the interior of the car.

Optional audio systems are 'audiophile' units by Burmester, available in 13 and 24 speaker configurations. Burmester systems are also seen on the Bugatti Veyron, and offered as optional on some Porsches. The tweeter shown below is motorized. It rotates outwards to get closer to the passengers once the system is turned on.

I found the sound a touch bass heavy, despite the EQ being set flat. A few minor adjustments fixed that easily. As expected, the sound is crisp and tight - though due to its audiophile nature, the average listener might find it lacking body. Also, when sitting at the rear, the sound-stage felt like it was set way too forward, even after we faded it completely to the rear. One thing I didn't try changing to address this was the sound profile (set to 3D surround). Perhaps that would have made a difference.

Interesting fact: All W222 S-Class audio systems have 2 woofers housed in the front firewall (ahead of the dashboard). They use about 40-liters of space for their resonance chamber.

I liked the skeuomorphic design for the equalizer and other audio settings on the Burmester system. The usability of these controls tied in perfectly with the rotating ring on the COMAND controller.

The 510 liter boot is tall enough for medium sized suitcases to be placed inside, standing up.

The coefficient of drag (CoD) of 0.24 for the new S-Class is impressive for a car of this size. A smaller sedan like the C-Class clocks in at a higher 0.26 (i.e. more aerodynamic drag). The W222 has clearly spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel, maximizing every last bit of aerodynamic efficiency. It's a hard task these days, with pedestrian safety laws having specific requirements about the front end design / shape of the car.

The W222 also boasts of the lowest wind noise levels in its class. From the figures and demonstration, it was a good step ahead of the W221 as well. We listened to a recording of all the S-Classes through the ages, where the actual wind noise was captured using an artificial head with microphones placed at the ears, and then played back to us over headphones. Still, when driving the car on the highway, I did notice some wind noise from the A-pillar area at 100 km/h, but it might have been a crosswind. Overall, the cabin insulation is impeccable.

• Unlike some seats where the backrest angle movement is limited or linked to the seat-base position, in the new S-Class, all seat segments are completely independent. This means they have a full range of motion regardless of what position the other seat part is in. For example: if you recline the backrest, the seat base will not be forced to slide forward as a result.

• The short wheelbase (SWB) S-Class gets a maximum backrest angle of 37 degrees. Luckily, the Indian market will only be getting the long wheelbase (LWB) version, which supports 5 different rear seat options, including one for a 43.5 degree max recline angle.

• In order to improve passenger comfort and isolate the rear seats from vibrations, the seats have NOT been directly mounted to any key structural elements.

• Each seat has 4 fans in the base and 2 in the backrest. In all previous generations of ventilated seats, the fans would only blow air in one direction. In the W222, when the cooling starts, the fans begin by sucking cooler surrounding air into the surface of the seat (assuming that the car has been parked in the sun and the seats have gotten warm). After about 4 minutes, the fans start rotating in the other direction and begin to blow air out from the surface of the seat.

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th August 2013 at 13:28.
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Old 27th August 2013, 11:44   #4
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Default LED Lighting


As a world first, the W222 S-Class has no conventional bulbs anywhere in the car. LEDs have completely replaced filament-type bulbs. The headlights too have been switched over to 100% LED units. Each headlight houses up to 56 high-powered LEDs. The advantage of LEDs is that they turn on faster, last longer, produce less heat and use less energy. You'll never have to change a bulb! Also note that LED headlamps don't require a washer spray by law, as the HID lamps do.

Mercedes has taken the LED headlights a step further, and has developed "Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus" which allows the entire area ahead of the car to be flooded with high-beam light, without blinding other road users. This system works by locating other vehicles on the road (the forward facing cameras see their headlights / taillights) and the system casts a shadow at the desired position.

In this simulator, I was able to mimic the headlights of oncoming traffic; the S-Class' headlights immediately cast a shadow in the correct position. Switching rapidly between lights to mimic a fast approaching vehicle was easily handled by the system as you can see below. When there are no vehicles around, the headlights return to an uninterupted high-beam.

(Animated image)

Here's a closer look at the headlight assembly. The outer projector moves in order to create or relocate the area of shadow.

(Animated image)

If there are multiple vehicles ahead of the S-Class, the width of the shadow cut-out can increase accordingly - but there can only be one continuous shadow area.

The system checks vehicle speed, looks up GPS coordinates of the road you are on, and even uses the cameras to see if street lights are present. Accordingly, it adjusts the beam for city use, motorway use, country roads (wider & higher spread of light) or enhanced fog lighting.

If the S-Class detects a person walking on the road at night, it points them out to the driver by flashing them with a targeted box of light 4 times. What is amazing is that, though the night-vision and other systems can detect animals on the road, the S-Class is smart enough to differentiate between humans and animals. Why is this required? Because humans are flashed with light, animals are not. The engineers felt that unlike humans, animals might react unpredictably to these warning flashes.

In this cut-away of the headlight assembly, the two clear plastic circles seen at the center are the LEDs. There are several others which aren't visible in the picture.

The tail lamps, though not very 'Mercedes looking', are elegant and upmarket in my opinion. They contain 35 LEDs each, with an additional 4 for the rear fog lamp. The center areas light up during braking.

Just like the intelligent headlights, the taillights are thoughtful too. During the daytime, they work at full intensity. At night however, their light intensity drops to 80% so as not to blind other road users. When the vehicle is at a standstill, the intensity drops further to 60%. This applies for the brake lights and indicators, but not the DRLs which are always lit at a constant intensity.

Finally, if the S-Class is at a standstill and another vehicle rapidly approaches it from behind, the indicators will flash repeatedly. The car will also pre-tighten the seat belts and apply the brakes automatically in order to prevent it from being pushed into an intersection...and to reduce whiplash.

(Animated image)

Though the advanced lighting options will be available in India, I wonder if they will be a boon or an irritant for drivers on our disorganized roads. I imagine that a lot of flashing boxes of light highlighting people on the streets could get irritating, not to mention a lot of oncoming vehicles being blinded (if they don't have working headlights)!

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Old 27th August 2013, 11:45   #5
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Default Seat Belts & Airbags


Mercedes has been using its PRE-SAFE systems for quite a while now, and the latest gen S-Class takes the system a step further. What is PRE-SAFE? Well, the car uses a variety of signals and sensors (e.g. steering inputs, brake pressure, accelerometer readings and now, radar measurements to objects ahead) to detect the likelihood of a crash. If the system feels like a crash is imminent, it preemptively does things like pre-tightening the seatbelts and increasing the level of brake assist. This makes things safer for occupants even before a crash occurs.

It's not uncommon for passengers to have bruises across their chest after being restrained by seat belts during a large impact. The beltbag system helps prevent that concentrated stress from being transferred to the passenger. The beltbag inflates during a head-on collision in order to distribute the force of the impact across a wider area on the passenger's rib cage. Another advantage is that, due to the double thickness of the belt, it is soft and the folded-over edges are far more comfortable than a regular sharp-edged seat belt.

The mechanical bits of the beltbag look identical to a regular seat belt. The only difference is a canister at one end that contains explosives to rapidly inflate the belt airbag.

Here it is in action. Note that the beltbag inflates as soon as a frontal impact is sensed (before the body even begins to decelerate). The width of the belt increases many fold, spreading the force over a greater contact area on the passenger's chest.

(Animated Image)

To make buckling up at the rear bench convenient and encouraged, the rear seat belt's buckles automatically extend outward by 5 cm when the rear doors open. This made it really easy to get a hold of that elusive rear seat buckle to clip in. They are also illuminated, making them easier to spot at night. Lastly, during PRE-SAFE, they can tighten the belt around rear passengers by retracting an additional 4 cm. When the rear doors are opened again, the buckles pop out and light up again to enable the passenger to unclip the seatbelt easily.

A closer look at the buckle mechanism of the rear seat belts. The electric motor responsible for extending and retracting the buckle is visible at the extreme right.

Seat belt pre-tensioners are becoming more common on high end cars. They tighten up the seat belts at the time of an impact, making them more effective. Typically, the pre-tensioner is an explosive charge located at one mounting point of the 3-point seat belt. Mercedes had taken it a step further with the current gen W221 S-Class, and added a 2nd point pre-tensioner as well. With the latest W222, as another world first, they have equipped all 3 anchor points of the seat belt with pre-tensioning capabilities. The safety system can decide which ones to fire, and in what order. This makes pre-tensioning a lot faster and more effective. The W222 can even fire specific pre-tensioners in order to 'pull' the passengers away from the side of impact! Seen below is the pre-tensioning system for one of the front seats. Each buckle is connected to a retractable cable and the explosive charge is located at the center (in red). The 3rd mounting point (in the B-pillar) isn't shown.

To demonstrate the basic PRE-SAFE seat belt tightening feature and its effectiveness, Mercedes had a specially built simulator. The severed quarter of an S-Class would charge up and down the length of the simulator, occasionally spinning around. First, the routine was run without PRE-SAFE turned on - and I was thrown around in my seat quite noticeably, despite being prepared for direction changes and deceleration. After that, PRE-SAFE was turned on, and the belt tightened up around me just before the car began to decelerate or change direction. This time around, I remained firmly planted in my seat.

Driver and front passenger airbags can now fill adaptively too. Translated, they have 2 levels of pressure they can fill to, and the step up in airbag pressure can be done with a delay in between the 2 stages (based on the detected deceleration of the vehicle). The front passenger airbag can also be made harder or softer based on 'the occupant's seating position' - though I am not sure how they determine this.

Lastly, there's the active bonnet that pops up in case of a collision with a pedestrian in order to lessen the impact of their head hitting the bonnet. The hood raising by an additional 80 mm at the time of impact helps cushion the blow to an extent. The engineers at Mercedes have even positioned the items below the hood to minimize the chance of any hard objects (below the hood) being hit.

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Old 27th August 2013, 11:45   #6
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Default Driving Assistance Systems


Distronic is a fancy word Mercedes uses for 'cruise control' - but it's a lot more than just cruise control. Distronic uses several radar sensors, along with a few cameras to keep the S-Class cruising down the highway without any trouble. Unlike earlier systems which only activated above 35 km/h, the W222's Distronic system is capable of functioning from 0 km/h to 200 km/h. This includes coming to a complete stop if the car ahead of you halts, automatically taking minor curves on the road (lane following) and even following the car ahead if there are no lane markings on the road.

The lower stalk here activates the Distronic cruise control. The rotating bit at the tip lets you set how small or large you'd like the (following) distance to be between the two cars.

There are a few more buttons to toggle through additional features like steering assist, lane-keeping assist, parking sensors, 360-degree reverse camera and night view mode.

This neat little model illustrated the coverage of the radar and ultrasonic (shown in pink) sensors around the car. The long, medium and short range radar (up to 30 meters, 60 meters and 200 meters, respectively) can be seen as well. The dark purple slice is the view from the camera. It can view objects up to 500 meters ahead, with 3D vision (for object and bump recognition) up to 50 meters ahead.

The rear facing radar & ultrasonic parking sensors also serve the purpose of assisting with blind-spot warnings. The red triangles in the ORVMs light up if there is a vehicle in your blind spot. This system only begins to work at 30 km/h and up. If you turn your indicator on whilst the blind-spot warning is active, you'll hear a beep to warn you about the vehicle in your blind spot. Extremely useful, and a great boon for bikers especially.

Not only can the S-Class slow down if the car you're following begins to slow down, but it can also apply the brakes extremely forcefully when required. It's important to note here that *any* driver input will CANCEL the automatic braking. This is because the driver always has to be in-charge, and have the ability to easily over-ride any automatic action. Even doing something like turning the steering wheel will cancel the intervention from the auto-braking system (as the car thinks you might be trying an evasive maneuver instead). So it's always best to hit the brake pedal like you normally would, even if the car is currently doing the braking for you.

It's incredible how forcefully - and at the last minute - the S-Class can brake if a pedestrian or animal pops out in front of it. The car comes to a stop with just a few centimeters of distance between it and the object ahead without the driver even touching the brake pedal. This works at speeds up to 50 km/h, and makes use of the front-facing 3D camera. Here's one of the auto-braking demos that was set up for us on a closed airstrip.

(Animated Image)

Next up is collision avoidance. If you're unknowingly drifting into oncoming traffic, instead of using the steering to get the car back onto the safe side of the road - the S-Class uses the brakes only on one side of the car to make it change direction. Why not use the steering to get the car back on course? Well, if the driver isn't paying attention in the first place, and the car suddenly decides to turn the steering, the natural reaction of the driver is to fight back at the steering. This would be counterproductive and dangerous, so instead, the brakes gradually pull the car back on-course.

Night View Assist Plus switches your instrument cluster display to this video view and highlights people or animals with red borders to make them easily visible at night. The system uses infrared as well as thermal imaging for night vision. The IR emitters are in the headlamps, and the infrared camera can see up to 160 meters ahead. You can either leave this screen on all the time, or have the car automatically display this screen when danger is detected.

• Active Lane-Keeping Assist (60 km/h upwards): A green steering icon appears on the instrument cluster denoting that the car has enough data to orient itself. If you're on a road with no lane markings, Distronic is capable of tailing the car ahead of you. If there are lane markings, the S-Class will stick to its lane even if the car you're tailing switches lanes.

• Though extremely gradual bends are steered for automatically; the law limits the degree to which the car can move the steering wheel on its own, so anything tighter will require driver intervention. If the car begins to waft over lane-markings, the steering vibrates to alert the driver.

• What's cool: If you're in traffic with Distronic turned on and a gap opens up ahead of you, instead of the S-Class racing ahead to fill the gap, it senses if there is a car in the fast lane beside that gap, and matches that speed. This is so that it moves with the same speed as the traffic and does not overtake in the slow lane. This feature is active above 80 km/h. Below that speed, the S-Class will overtake when the car is not in the fastest lane, but it limits the speed at which it overtakes.

• Whilst using Distronic, if the car comes to a complete stop (e.g. whilst following the car ahead in traffic), you need to just touch the accelerator to get your car moving once again, and it will accelerate up to the pre-set maximum speed.

• Traffic Sign Assist uses the car's cameras to identify traffic signs along the road. The car can then use the captured information (e.g. speed limits, no-entry, no overtaking) to warn the driver accordingly.

• Brake Assist Plus: Traditional Brake Assist (BA) is a system that provides additional brake-force as the driver presses the brake pedal, when it is required. This is usually based on the time taken for your foot to make the move between the accelerator and brake pedal. BA Plus takes that a step further. Think of it as 'preemptive BA', which uses sensors to gauge surrounding risks and is capable of applying much higher levels of brake-force multiplication accordingly. Even if the driver presses the brakes extremely lightly, the system is capable of applying maximum braking force - if the situation calls for it. BA Plus has Cross-Traffic Assist too, which means it keeps an extra eye out for risks at junctions, where traffic may suddenly be crossing perpendicularly in front of you.

Mercedes themselves say that the S-Class has all the technology required to drive itself autonomously, but legislation prevents that from happening in commercially available vehicles. Over the years, the systems have continued to cross the line from being suggestive, to being helpful, to completely doing things for you!

Personally, I would draw the line at 'being helpful' and not want more than that. Maybe it's my Indian road-experience talking, but I just see too many possibilities for error in less than perfect driving conditions. Worse yet, in developed countries, I feel that S-Class drivers might begin to get complacent and completely rely on the helpful features, despite them being provided merely as supplementary driving aids. A shocking 41% of drivers in the USA say they've fallen asleep at the wheel. Now they'd probably feel comfortable doing so, and if they get woken up rudely, it probably won't end well for anyone.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), none of the features mentioned in this post are India bound. The reason being that the 24 & 72 GHz frequency bands that the S-Class' radar uses are reserved only for military vehicles in India.

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Old 27th August 2013, 11:45   #7
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Default Parking Assist


The S-Class finally gets a 360-degree camera. It makes parking and reversing feel like you're playing a hyper-realistic video-game! The "top view" is created by stitching together the images from 4 cameras located under the wing mirrors, and at the front and rear of the car. Each camera has a super-wide >180 degree field of view! Note how accurately the 360-degree top view represents the area surrounding the car.

When it's required, the front camera flips open from the black plastic rectangle on the front grill.

Given that the cameras are mounted at wing-mirror height, the system is more for painted markings around parking spaces, rather than tall objects like trees or other vehicles - which will look rather skewed and stretched when rendered on the screen (e.g. the 2 dark cars shown in the center view below). Nonetheless, as a parking guide, it's still extremely accurate and useful. I particularly liked the guides that were overlayed on the screen as safe distance markers behind the rear of the car.

This S-Class parked itself. The free parking space for this demo was the length of the car + 1.3 meters, though the S-Class can do it with a minimum parking space size of the car length + 1 meter.

When you drive at speeds up to 36 km/h, the S-Class uses its side-facing sensors to measure available parking spaces. If it finds a large enough vacant spot, a white arrow will show up besides the [P] parking symbol on the instrument cluster. If you put the car in reverse, the system will ask if it should park for you. All you have to do after that is switch the car between reverse and drive when prompted, and tap the accelerator to get it moving. The system can make up to 7 moves back and forth if required. It can do both, parallel and perpendicular parking.

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th August 2013 at 11:51.
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Old 27th August 2013, 11:46   #8
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Default Magic Body Control


Probably my favourite technology demo in the S-Class was the new Magic Body Control. The previous generations of S-Class have included 'Active Body Control' (ABC) which adjusts the dampers to reduce body roll on corners, minimize dive on braking and switch between comfort and sport setups. This new system mates the functions of ABC with the front-facing 3D camera (shown below), and looks for bumps on the road. It then adjusts the suspension at the very millisecond each of the wheels goes over the bump - resulting in a much smoother ride.

Magic Body Control (MBC) is only available on the S500 model and above. It is always active when the ABC is set to Comfort mode, and gets deactivated when the car is put in Sport mode. This made it easy for us to test the true effectiveness of the system on the same car.

How well did it work in reality? Exceptionally well! The result is truly a magic carpet ride effect.

Mercedes had set up a short course with a few raised segments of road. Not exactly sharp-edged bumps, but 6" tall platforms with slopes on the approach & exit. More to simulate patchwork or undulations in the tarmac, rather than completely broken surfaces.

The difference we noticed on these bumps with MBC turned on was truly amazing. The system can work up to 130 km/h. I tried it at the 'suggested' 40 km/h and then, with permission, hit the course again at 75 km/h. It worked great in both cases. Interestingly, I didn't have the heart to hit the bump at 75 km/h with MBC turned off, but had no issues doing it with the system on - I guess that’s just a testament to its effectiveness!

When seated at the front, you'd be hard pressed to tell the size of the rise in the road; the car just glided over it silently and keeping completely level like nothing ever happened. At the rear however, the let-down from the bumps was a little more noticeable - but it's still an amazing improvement over the standard non-MBC ride.

I've looped this segment of footage that I shot around the most noticeably impressive part. Watch the nose of the top car rise and dip, while the car at the bottom stays absolutely level.

(Animated Image)

The system does have limitations however. The ability to handle sharp-edged bumps or potholes on the road is limited by the speed at which the hydraulics in the suspension can react. Smoother edged bumps (the type we see in India when a bad part of road has been patched up with a raised swelling of asphalt over it) are tackled easily. Also, the system relies on visual cues seen by the camera to map out the road ahead, so there needs to be some visible texture or high-contrast points on the road for the MBC to function accurately. This system would surely have its benefits on poorly maintained Indian roads. However, we're unlikely to see it here. Despite the system not actively using radar to scan the road, it does constantly use the radar to calibrate the stereo cameras. The stereo cameras are very sensitive to even a few degrees of temperature change, and hence this constant cross-checking is a requirement.

Here's the full video of MBC at work, played back in slow-motion too.

Disclaimer : Mercedes invited Team-BHP for the S-Class drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th August 2013 at 11:51.
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Old 27th August 2013, 11:56   #9
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

A brilliant review which really showcases the technology behind this car. Almost makes the case for no driver!
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:11   #10
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

Super review..

Car is beautiful,moreover MGC-magic carpet ride effect is impressive..i've never heard of this.
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:20   #11
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

Brilliant Preview. Is there any feature which this car misses out on?! From the rear especially the taillamps it reminds me of the CL.
Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post
19" 5x2 spoke wheels keep the S-Class looking classy
In India we would probably get 17 or 18 inch wheels!
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:22   #12
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

Awesome review.
Its the epitome of Luxury.

Btw, dealers have already started taking bookings for the W222.
India Launch in December.
Deliveries start January.
Only in S500 avatar initially.
Approximate price of 1.5cr

Last edited by cityvic : 27th August 2013 at 12:29.
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:22   #13
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

Wooowww!!!! What a car! and What a review!!!
Mercedes are proving that they are always the first to reach un-paralleled motoring technology when it comes to passenger comfort, ride and safety.
The new S Class seems un-real. Such technology might exisit in other high end sports cars, but the reach of an S throughout the world will lure more people towards it.

Again, excellent preview. Thanks
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:38   #14
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

Excellent review as always. The new S class looks pretty impressive. It is a big leap in terms of technology over the current S class. I liked the shape of the new one as compared to the current one. Any idea when is it going to land on indian shores.
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Old 27th August 2013, 12:39   #15
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Default Re: Mercedes S-Class : Official Preview

Hey Rehaan this is an amazing review. Also just wanted to know who did the photography since it was totally different from other review in forum.
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