2021 Mercedes-Benz S 500 4Matic - USA version

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Modern luxury reaches a new level with the interior of the S-Class. The designers have created a feel-good ambience with lounge character marked by elegance, high quality and airiness. The dashboard with its new architecture, modern surface design and ergonomic display arrangement is a noteworthy highlight. But the feel-good aspect goes even further: With high ride quality and low noise levels as well as an extensive range of ENERGIZING Comfort programs, the S-Class looks after the well-being of its passengers.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class has become more intelligent in many areas, including the driving experience, which is taken to the next level. Digital innovations such as in MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) are joined by new developments that increase driving enjoyment while making driving even safer: among them are rear-axle steering with a large steering angle and safety innovations such as the rear airbag. As a new function of PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side, the active E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension can raise the vehicle body (on both sides) just before an impending side impact. Following further systematic developments, the driving assistance systems take another step towards autonomous driving. Thanks to improved environmental sensors, for example, the parking systems provide the driver increased support when maneuvering at low speed. The integration into MBUX further enhances this as the level of visualization enters a whole new dimension.

For more than 100 years: the luxury class as the embodiment of the Mercedes-Benz brand

The S-Class is the centerpiece of the brand, and exemplifies the allure of Mercedes-Benz as legendary engineering expertise and a heritage of craftsmanship meet progressive digital innovation. The S-Class combines artificial intelligence with the experience gained from 135 years of automobile engineering. Around 70 years ago, Mercedes-Benz laid the foundations for this model series with the model 220. Since its market launch in 1951, more than 4 million S-Class Sedans have been delivered to customers around the world. The designation "S-Class" was officially introduced with the 116 series in 1972. In the last 10 years the S-Class Sedan has been particularly popular in China, the USA, South Korea and Germany. All in all, since the launch of the generation that is now in its runout phase, more than 500,000 S-Class Sedans have been sold globally.

The loyalty rate for this model series is especially high. For example, around 80% of customers in Western Europe and 70% of customers in the US who previously drove an S-Class once again opted for a Mercedes-Benz model. Around the world the S-Class Sedan is predominantly sold in the long wheelbase version: Around 9 out of 10 customers opt for the long version of the S-Class Sedan.

A new dimension in personalization and interaction

No other innovation in recent years has so radically changed the operation of a Mercedes-Benz as MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). The second generation of this learn-capable system is now debuting in the new S-Class. The vehicle interior is even more digital and intelligent, as both the hardware and software have made great strides: brilliant displays on up to five large screens, in part with OLED technology, make the control of vehicle and comfort functions even easier to operate. The possibilities for personalization and intuitive operation have become far more extensive. This certainly applies in the rear, but also to the driver: For example, the new 3D driver display allows a spatial view at the touch of a button for the first time. A real three- dimensional effect is achieved without having to wear 3D glasses.

The voice assistant "Hey Mercedes" is available in every seat, with increased learning and dialogue capabilities through the activation of online services in the Mercedes me App. Moreover, certain actions can be performed even without the activation keyword "Hey Mercedes". These include accepting a telephone call. "Hey Mercedes" now also explains vehicle functions, and can help in situations, such as, when asked how to connect a smartphone by Bluetooth or where the first-aid kit can be found.

The HUD now provides augmented reality (AR) content. When navigating, for example, animated turn-off arrows ("fishbones") are virtually and precisely projected onto the road lane. For the assistance functions, information from Active Distance Assist, for example, is shown. The image appears virtually at a distance of 32 feet. This long distance allows for a very large image: the display area corresponds to a monitor with a 77-inch diagonal.

Up to five large screens with intuitive operation

The visual highlight in the interior is the large central display, now in portrait format. It is ergonomically positioned, as the screen is within reach and also visually between the driver and front passenger. The portrait format also allows longer lists to be displayed. The central display features haptic feedback and OLED technology. The haptic feedback provides a minimal vibration during touch operation of a virtual button that gives the impression of having operated a mechanical switch.

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Compared to LCD screens, the advantages of this technology are improved richness in colors, even stronger contrasts and a lower energy consumption.

The user interface of the central display is divided into different areas. At the top is the entry area where the user can access the profiles by touch control. The content in the application band in the middle of the screen can be moved by horizontal and vertical swiping, depending on the chosen homescreen. At the bottom is the permanently displayed area for the climate controls.

On request the driver display is also available with a unique innovation: at the touch of a button, it is possible to switch to a 3D mode for a spatial view. A real three-dimensional effect is achieved with the help of eye-tracking, without having to wear 3D glasses. This optional version of the driver display has two integrated cameras. This stereo camera is able to precisely determine the eye position of the user. Mercedes-Benz has developed appropriate distance adaptation methods for this, and the system has extremely low latency, i.e. there is almost no delay. The driver can therefore move freely, as the image in the driver display is continuously adjusted. Cameras and face recognition are also used for a wide range of assistance and comfort functions. These include the new biometric authentication, drowsiness detection by ATTENTION ASSIST, settings for the exterior mirrors and monitoring of the head and eyelids.

The appearance of the driver display and central display screens can be individualized with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service).

As a new element in the driver display, the ECO display (in the Classic style) takes the form of a ball rolling on a stylized road. The ECO display playfully helps the driver to adopt an efficient driving style.

Extensive range of infotainment functions for passengers in the rear

From managers to children - in an S-Class, and especially in the main markets of China and the USA, the boss often sits in the rear. Accordingly, Mercedes-Benz has systematically focused on the rear seat passengers for the new version of its flagship model. For example: passengers in the rear have the same extensive Infotainment and comfort features as the driver and front seat passenger, and can also watch films or surf the internet. They have access to up to three touchscreens and a variety of intuitive control options such as the voice control assistant "Hey Mercedes" - real multi- seat entertainment.

Screen content can be quickly and easily shared with other passengers. Selection and amendment of navigation destinations is also possible from the rear seats. MBUX high-end rear entertainment has two 11.6-inch displays with touch controls on the rear of the front seat backrests. The MBUX rear tablet is also optionally available. As a fully- fledged tablet, this can also be used outside the vehicle. In the S-Class, the MBUX rear tablet is attached to a docking station located in the folding center armrest. This convenient remote control enables all the functions of the rear entertainment to be controlled from any seating position. As well as Mercedes-Benz Bluetooth headphones, a personal smartphone can be connected to the multi-seat entertainment by Wi-Fi or HDMI.

Music streaming: millions of songs with many services

Mercedes-Benz has also integrated the music streaming service Spotify and Tuneln internet radio into the new S-Class and are available with subscription. TIDAL and Amazon Music continue to be available with a subscription as well. MBUX allows access to the usual songs and playlists as on a smartphone or other mobile device. Operation is intuitive, using the MBUX voice assistant "Hey Mercedes".

Personalization is even more easy and convenient

A personal profile can be created directly in the S-Class and synchronized with the existing profile data of the Mercedes me account. By scanning a QR code with the Mercedes App, the vehicle is automatically connected to the Mercedes me account.

Personal preferences such as a favorite radio station and preselected settings can be transferred to any seat via the personal Mercedes me profile. Up to seven different profiles with around 800 parameters are possible in the vehicle. The ambient lighting can be individually set by remote configuration, i.e. from home, as the profiles are now stored in the Cloud as part of Mercedes me, they can also be used in other Mercedes-Benz vehicles with the new MBUX generation.

Alongside the classic entry of a PIN, a new authentication method ensures a high level of security. Fingerprint, face (available with 3D instrument cluster) and voice recognition are combined. This allows access to individual settings or verification of digital payment processes from the vehicle.

Always state of the art: over-the-air updates

More than 50 electronic components in the new S-Class can be updated with new software over-the-air (OTA), i.e. via a mobile data connection. These include the entire MBUX infotainment system, the driver display and the driving assistance systems. This technology saves the customer time, as they no longer need to visit a dealership for these updates. Furthermore, the vehicle remains up to date throughout its lifecycle and is even equipped for new features that have not yet been developed. The explicit consent of the user is always a precondition for OTA updates.

Since as early as 2016, Mercedes me connect has made it possible to update the communication module and the navigation map data over-the-air. In 2018, this was followed by the update capability for the MBUX infotainment system. In 2019 alone, Mercedes-Benz carried out almost 3.7 million free software updates around the world in this way. Since 2016 there have been 6.3 million OTA updates to navigation maps.

Listens even more carefully, and understands all passengers

The voice assistant "Hey Mercedes" is even more intelligent and dialogue-capable, thanks to the activation of online services in the Mercedes me App. Moreover, certain actions can be performed even without the activation keyword "Hey Mercedes". These include accepting a telephone call. "Hey Mercedes" now also explains vehicle functions. In the S-Class the voice assistant can also be controlled from the rear.

"Hey Mercedes" now supports 27 languages with natural language understanding (NLU). This makes natural interaction on a wide range of topics possible. As a new feature, a completed dialogue can be continued with further commands. Several consecutive instructions can be issued, for example activation of the seat heating and starting the route guidance in the navigation system.

The activation keyword "Hey Mercedes" is no longer necessary for certain applications. An incoming call can be taken directly with "Accept call", for example.

In the S-Class, "Hey Mercedes" can also be controlled from the rear. Several microphones help to tell the system which seat the voice is coming from. The active ambient lighting flashes at this position and identifies the current speaker.

"Hey Mercedes" now also explains vehicle functions, for example, MBUX can help when asked how to connect a smartphone by Bluetooth or where the first-aid kit can be found. The new Chit-Chat and knowledge domain provides the right answers to many questions, and even questions about buildings in the immediate vicinity, animal noises or general knowledge are answered.

"Hey Mercedes" is now also able to recognize vehicle occupants by their voices. Once the individual characteristics of the voice have been learned, this can be used to activate a profile. This makes personal data and functions accessible to the user. Voice recognition is in real time, using a special authentication process.

The next steps on the way to accident-free driving

In the new S-Class, Mercedes-Benz takes another step closer to its vision of accident-free driving. The driver is supported by numerous new or extended driving assistance systems. The driver thereby has a reduced workload in day-to-day situations, and is able to drive comfortably and safely. When a dangerous situation is detected, the assistance systems are able to respond to impending collisions as the situation demands.

In day-to-day driving, assistance systems relieve driver stress as the situation requires, by adapting the vehicle speed, controlling distance, steering and lane-changing. This enables the driver to stay alert for longer, and reach the destination safely and comfortably. When a dangerous situation is detected, i.e. if there is a risk of an accident due to driver inattention or distraction, the driving assistance systems can respond according to the situation and mitigate the severity of possible collisions, or even avoid them.

The S-Class has a new generation of steering wheels with capacitive hands-off recognition thanks to a two-zone sensor pad in the steering wheel rim. The sensors on the front and reverse sides of the rim register whether the driver's hands are on the wheel. No steering movement is necessary to inform the driving assistance systems that the driver has control.

The new assistance display within the driver display clearly shows the operating principle of the driving assistance systems as a full-screen view. This is where the driver of an S-Class can see an abstract view of the car, driving lanes, lane markings and other road users such as cars, trucks and bikes. The system status and operation of the assistants are visualized in this depiction of the surroundings. The new, animated assistance display is based on a 3D scene generated in real time. This dynamic, high-quality representation makes the operation of the driving assistance systems transparent as a tangible augmented reality experience.

The vehicle uses sensors as its eyes and ears to perform all these tasks. The following are included with the standard Driving Assistance package:

  • Front multi-mode radar: 2 radar sensors with an aperture angle of 130°
  • Front long-range radar: 1 radar sensor with an aperture angle of 90° and 9°
  • Front stereo multi-purpose camera: 1 camera with an aperture angle of 70°
  • Rear multi-mode radar: 2 radar sensors with an aperture angle of 130°
  • 360° camera (close range): 4 cameras with aperture angle of 180°
  • Ultrasonic (close range): 12 sensors with an aperture angle of 120°

Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC

On all types of roads - highways, country roads or in town - this intelligent system can automatically maintain a preset distance from vehicles ahead. New features:

  • predictive speed regulation ahead of speed limits
  • collision-preventing response to stationary road users at up to 80 mph (previously 35 mph)
  • selection of DISTRONIC dynamics in MBUX, independently of DYNAMIC SELECT

Active Steering Assist

This helps the driver to follow the driving lane at speeds up to 130 mph. New features include:

  • additional lane recognition by a 360° camera
  • significantly improved availability and performance on winding country roads
  • improved lane centering on highways
  • situation-specific off-centered driving (i.e. following the road edge on country roads with no center marking)

Traffic Sign Assist

In addition to conventionally signposted speed limits, this recognizes overhead road signs and signs at construction zones. New features:

  • stop sign warning function - warning when about to pass a stop sign
  • red traffic light warning function - warning when about to cross a red traffic light.

Active Lane Keeping Assist

In a speed range of 35 to 155 mph, Active Lane Keeping Assist uses a camera to detect when road markings or road edges are crossed, helping the driver to avoid leaving the driving lane unintentionally. The system also intervenes if there is a danger of collision with recognized road users in the adjacent lane, i.e. with overtaking or oncoming vehicles. New features:

  • reaction to road edges, i.e. a patch of grass
  • particularly intuitive steering intervention
  • adjustment of sensitivity via a menu (early, medium, late)
  • the danger warning is reinforced by the active ambient lighting and the augmented reality head-up display

Active Lane Changing Assist

Active Lane Changing Assist cooperatively assists the driver of the new S-Class when moving to an adjacent lane. A lane-change to the right or left is only assisted if the sensors detect that the adjacent lane is separated from the present lane by an interrupted lane marking, and no other vehicles are recognized in the relevant danger zone. New features:

  • longer search phase (15 s instead of 10 s) in which the lane-change can take place
  • higher lateral dynamics

Active Emergency Stop Assist

Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle to a standstill in its own lane if it recognizes that the driver is no longer responding to the traffic situation for a longer period. In the new S-Class this still works if Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with Steering Assist is not switched on. Other new features:

  • belt tensioning and braking impulse as a final signal of impending braking action
  • optional single lane change (at 50 mph, if no obstacles in adjacent lane)


This system included as standard is able to recognize typical signs of drowsiness and driver inattention, and displays a warning message prompting the driver to take a break. The additional microsleep warning is a new feature based on monitoring of the driver's eyelid movements by a camera in the driver display (only in conjunction 3D Instrument Cluster). The microsleep warning function is already active from a speed of 12 mph.

Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function

Active Brake Assist uses the onboard sensors to register whether there is a risk of collision with vehicles traveling ahead, crossing or oncoming. The system can give the driver a visual and audible warning if a collision is imminent. If the driver's braking response is too weak, the system can also assist by increasing the brake pressure as the situation demands, and also initiate autonomous emergency braking if the driver fails to respond. New features:

  • the cornering function (i.e. crossing pedestrians when turning off)
  • extension of the cross-traffic function to long-distance routes (up to 75 mph instead of 45 mph)
  • warning and braking if there is oncoming traffic

Active Blind Spot Assist and exit warning function

Active Blind Spot Assist can give a visual warning - and if the indicators are operated also an audible warning - of potential lateral collisions in a speed range from around 6 mph to 124 mph. If the driver ignores the warnings and still initiates a lane-change, the system can take corrective action through one-sided braking intervention at the last moment if the speed exceeds 18 mph. When the vehicle is stationary, the exit warning function can warn against exiting if a vehicle (or bicycle) is passing within the critical area. This function is available when the vehicle is stationary and for up to 3 minutes after the ignition has been switched off. New features:

  • reinforcement of the warning by the active ambient lighting (also the exit warning)
  • thanks to the cameras in the head unit, a danger warning can be given if the driver or front passenger merely move a hand towards the door handle.

Evasive Steering Assist

Evasive Steering Assist can assist the driver when seeking to avoid another road user recognized by the system in a critical situation. In the new S-Class, the system not only recognizes stationary and crossing pedestrians, but also pedestrians and vehicles, including cyclists, traveling longitudinally. The speed range has been increased to 67 mph (instead of 45 mph), and assistance is also provided on long-distance routes.

PRE-SAFE® ImpulseSide

Together with the familiar PRE-SAFE® protection concepts for frontal and rear collisions, PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side forms a kind of virtual crumple zone that extends all around the vehicle.

As only a limited crumple zone is available in the event of a side impact, and even before the crash, PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side can move the affected driver or front passenger away from the acute danger zone as soon as the system detects that a side collision is immediately imminent. For this purpose, air chambers in the side bolsters of the front seat backrest are inflated in fractions of a second. In addition, when a side impact with another vehicle is imminent, the vehicle body can be raised by the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension within a few tenths of a second. This directs the impact forces towards particularly resistant structures in the lower area of the vehicle

Animated ambient lighting with intelligent comfort and safety functions

Thanks to LED technology, the new S-Class has also taken a leap forward in its interior lighting: Mercedes-Benz has now implemented interactive interior lighting for the first time. The active ambient lighting (optional) is now integrated into the driving assistance systems, and is able to reinforce alerts visually. This also allows for corresponding feedback for the comfort systems. This applies to the climate control system or the 'Hey Mercedes' voice assistant.

The number of LEDs has increased from the previous 40 to around 250 (247 in the W 223, 263 in the V 223). The optical fibers of the active ambient lighting are concealed behind a black panel face, and are not visible when switched off. An LED is positioned inside every 1.6 centimeters and a strip of light appears when the active ambient lighting is switched on.

The individual LEDs are actuated by CAN-BUS in real time. This allows flowing light effects, a soft transition within the light band and now also color transitions as well as individual colors. When entering the vehicle, the ambient light band is animated in finely granular form as a welcome feature.

At 200 lightbulbs per sq. m., the ambience lighting is ten times brighter than before. The system automatically switches between day and night mode depending on the ambient brightness. Colors (64) and brightness (20 levels) can be selected via MBUX or the voice assistant "Hey Mercedes".

The result is a unique appearance by day or night, as well as enabling new, intelligent functions. Integrated into the driving assistance systems, active ambient lighting can visually reinforce warnings. For example, Active Blind Spot Assist warns of an impending collision with a red light animation. Also with the exit warning function of Active Blind Spot Assist, a red visual warning is given in the area of the door where the risk of colliding with traffic approaching from behind, including cyclists, has been identified if exiting the vehicle.

Corresponding feedback is also possible when operating comfort systems. For example, when the temperature is set to cooler or warmer in individual zones, a visible impulse is triggered and responds with a blue or red ambient light. When the voice assist "Hey Mercedes" is active, the corresponding seating position is animated when voice input is expected. Furthermore, the ambience lighting and active ambient lighting are integrated into ENERGIZING COMFORT. Depending on the mode, the interior responds in corresponding color scenarios.

Easy entry into confined parking spaces and narrow entrances

Thanks to advanced environmental sensors, the parking systems provides the driver improved support when maneuvering at low speed. Operation is now faster and more intuitive thanks to integration into MBUX. The optional rear-axle steering is integrated into the parking assistants, with the calculation of trajectories adapted accordingly. Emergency braking functions primarily serve to protect other road users.

As standard, the S-Class is equipped with Active Parking Assist with a reversing camera and a 360° camera. In the S-Class, all the information from all sensors and cameras is combined. This enables more parking spaces to be recognized and offered

Light and comfortable travel

Innovative suspension systems ensure an impressive travel experience in the new S-Class. The rear-axle steering with a steering angle of up to 10° improves maneuverability on narrow city streets. The fully active E- ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension on a 48 V basis offers a unique synthesis of comfort and agility, plus additional protection in the event of a lateral collision. The AIRMATIC air suspension with continuously adjustable damping ADS+ is standard equipment. Close networking between all the suspension and control systems ensures maximum stability and safety.

The aim of the developers was to exceed the high level of suspension and ride comfort of the preceding series, while achieving a very high level of vehicle dynamics. E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL replaces the previous MAGIC BODY CONTROL.

At the front the new S-Class has the well-proven four-link suspension. With the exception of the wheel bearings, all the wheel location components are forged aluminum. The multi-link independent rear suspension has been completely redeveloped to accommodate rear-axle steering. To this end, the kinematics and elastokinematics were adapted, and the track rod at the lower steering arm level was moved from the front to the rear. The rear axle carrier is of welded sheet aluminum, and weighs no more than before thanks to computer-assisted structural improvements despite the increased strength. A newly developed metal/plastic hybrid cross-bar is bolted into this open-fronted section, and has significant weight advantages over the cast aluminum cross-bar of the preceding model. The suspension subframe carriers and the elastomer bearings of the rear axle struts were redeveloped in extensive simulations and driving trials, so as to improve them with respect to NVH and handling characteristics.

Constant level

The standard-fit AIRMATIC air suspension responds appropriately as it combines air suspension bellows with adaptive ADS+ dampers whose characteristics can be fully automatically varied at each individual wheel, in both the compression and rebound stages. While driving, a sophisticated sensor system and algorithms set the dampers according to the quality of the road to ensure that, for example, driving over a bump with just one wheel is not transmitted to the entire axle and the interior. At the front axle the springs and dampers are housed in one suspension strut. This level control is part of AIRMATIC. It keeps the ground clearance constant irrespective of the vehicle load, but also makes changes. By way of example, in COMFORT mode the vehicle body is lowered by 0.4 inches at high speeds above 76 mph and another 0.4 inches at speeds over 99 mph to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase driving stability. In SPORT driving mode the body is always 0.4 inches lower, and in SPORT+ 0.7 inches. At up to 37 mph, the body can be raised by 1.2 inches at the touch of a button.

As maneuverable as a compact car: both axles can do the steering

The aim of the engineers at Mercedes-Benz was to make the new S-Class as maneuverable as a compact car. The impressive driving function has been implemented using rear-axle steering that allows large steering angles of up to 10° and is integrated into the dynamic control systems of the steering, brakes and suspension (more about the rear-axle steering in the next chapter). The S-Class has an electro-mechanical direct steering system at the front. The suspension settings of the DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes allow individual adaptation of the assistance characteristics. No matter the vehicle weight, tire size and friction, an innovative control concept ensures consistent and comfortable steering feedback. The steering is also the central actuator for implementing the movement trajectory from numerous driving assistance functions and handling safety systems. In models equipped with the optional rear-axle steering, the front axle has a steering variant with an approx. 15% more direct steering ratio which requires considerably less steering movement in conjunction with the rear-axle steering.

DYNAMIC SELECT: The S-Class drives as the driver wants it to

The driver can individually modify the characteristics of the powertrain, ESP®, suspension and steering. The selection is made using a control at the lower end of the central display. The default setting is COMFORT mode with different characteristics assigned to each system. The driver has the choice of selecting fixed driving modes or individually combining sub-modes. The selection is acknowledged by acoustic and visual feedback. The desired driving mode is shown as the status and depicted in the central display.

Electronic assistance: ESP® dynamic cornering assistance and Steering Assist

The steering assistant STEER CONTROL responds with proportionate steering force at the dynamic limits to support the driver in stabilizing the vehicle. To do this, the electronics determine the direction in which the driver must steer to defuse a potentially critical situation, and ensure a corresponding steering movement to indicate the steering direction that will enable the vehicle to be stabilized. For example, ESP® dynamic cornering assistance brakes the inner rear wheel if the electronics detect understeer. This results in both high handling safety and high driving dynamics.

More maneuverable and dynamic thanks to rear-axle steering

Thanks to rear-axle steering (optional), the S-Class feels as maneuverable as a compact car in the city. The steering angle at the rear axle is up to ten degrees. For the S-Class with a long wheelbase and all-wheel drive, the turning circle is reduced by up to 7 feet to under 36 feet.

The interaction between the front-axle and rear-axle steering is configured to ensure agile responsiveness in city and country traffic together with a very high level of stability. This results in small side-slip angles and a high level of yaw suppression. At high speeds the focus is more on stability, though without compromising precision and responsiveness. This added value is achieved by integrated actuation of the steering and brakes (ESP®), and considerably improves handling safety as a result.

Customers have a choice of two variants of the optional rear-axle steering: 4.5° and 10° rear-axle steering. In the 10° variant the wheel size is limited to 255/40 R 20, allowing a larger wheel angle.

S-Class models with rear-axle steering have an approx. 15 percent more direct steering ratio at the front axle. This means that the driver does not need to turn the steering wheel as dramatically. The respective rear-axle angles and trajectories are shown in the driving mode menu in the central display.

The operating principle of rear-axle steering in detail: An electric motor drives a spindle at the rear axle via a drive belt. This makes axial adjustments to the spindle. Depending on the speed and the steering angle, the rear wheels are turned in the same or the opposite direction as the front wheels (same-direction or counter-direction steering). In simplified terms, this produces more agility and a smaller turning circle by counter-steering and more stability with same-direction steering. In the S-Class, the full steering angle of ten degrees is especially useful during parking maneuvers. The environmental data of the vehicle sensors (radar, camera, ultrasonic) are used to adapt the maximum angle to the relevant situation. The system switches from counter-direction to same-direction steering at speeds greater than 37 mph.

Only floating is better

Improved ride comfort and agility, as well as innovative functions, such as raising the vehicle body in the event of a lateral crash, are provided by the new developed E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL active suspension (optionally available next year), which is combined with the standard AIRMATIC air suspension. This regulates the damping and spring forces individually at each wheel, and not only counters body roll, but also pitch and lift. Together with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and the CURVE function, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL allows an extraordinarily high level of comfort and reinforces the claim of Mercedes-Benz to produce the world's most intelligent suspension system.

Active suspension systems have a long tradition at Mercedes-Benz. More than 40 years ago, research was already being conducted on spring and damper systems that would allow the power at each wheel to be individually controlled. The objective: to improve both ride comfort and vehicle dynamics. In 1999 ABC (Active Body Control) first entered series production in the S-Class Coupe. In subsequent years ABC was continuously developed further, with the ROAD SURFACE SCAN function added in 2013 to produce the first predictive suspension that responds to uneven surfaces before they are reached.

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL continues this tradition in a unique way. Developed by Mercedes-Benz, it operates on 48 volts. The system is based on the full AIRMATIC air suspension system, and therefore offers all-round level control which keeps the vehicle level constant regardless of the load. The level can also be raised or lowered as needed, to increase ground clearance.

Furthermore, the air suspension with active hydraulic damping generates dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces and actively support and dampen the vehicle body, i.e. during linear and lateral acceleration or when driving on uneven roads. The body no longer squats or pitches during braking and acceleration, and on poor road surfaces the system is even able to recuperate energy, almost cutting in half the energy requirement compared with the preceding system in the S-Class.

The active suspension also allows a very wide spread of handling characteristics that can be set with the driving mode - from the comfort of a luxury sedan to the agility of a sports car. It is also closely networked with the rear-axle steering and the other suspension and control systems, to achieve a new level of stability and safety. With five multi-core processors, more than 20 sensors and use of the stereo camera, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL responds predictively to any driving situation and ensures a completely new driving experience. The control units analyze the driving situation 1000 times per second, and adapt the suspension accordingly. ROAD SURFACE SCAN is a unique function: The stereo multi-purpose camera continuously registers the road surface ahead. The suspension struts are then activated to substantially reduce the body movements when driving over uneven surfaces, as the suspension responds even before the uneven stretch is reached.

The curve inclination function likewise improves ride comfort: in CURVE driving mode, the vehicle actively leans into bends by up to 3° in three stages, like a motorcycle. This reduces the lateral forces acting on the occupants. Cornering is therefore made much more pleasant, especially for the front and rear passengers.

The control function of E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL depends upon:

  • the driving style; i.e. dynamic
  • the road surface; i.e. uneven surfaces
  • the vehicle load
  • the selected driving mode: sporty (SPORT), comfortable (COMFORT), comfortable with dynamic curve inclination function (CURVE) or comfortable and particularly energy-efficient (ECO).

How it works: How E-ACTIVE Body Control works

E-ACTIVE Body Control adds semi-supporting hydraulics to the air suspension. The air springs bear the base load of the vehicle body and gradually regulate the level. The hydraulics generate dynamic forces that overlay the air spring forces, and actively support and dampen the vehicle body. They achieve up to 6 kN at the front wheels and 5 kN at the rear wheels. The actuating force is up to 20 kN/s, which also allows raising of the vehicle body when an impending side impact is recognized. More about this extension to PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side in the chapter "Protective measures in a side crash".

At each wheel, a damper is installed within the axle with two working chambers that have an adjustable damping valve and a hydraulic pressure reservoir. The damper is connected to an intelligent motor/pump unit in the 48 V network by hydraulic lines. Actuation of the motor/pump unit enables the hydraulic fluid to be displaced to create a difference in pressure within the damper, allowing an active force to be generated.

The motor/pump units at all four wheels are coordinated by a central control unit which also actuates the valves and the compressor for the air springs, and therefore always controls the entire suspension system.

The transition from a belt-driven hydraulic pump to an electric 48-volt pump also takes into account the increasing electrification of the powertrain: the combustion engine is idle increasingly often - or not used at all.

Modern luxury in its most desirable form

The S-Class is seen as a trendsetter in its segment. Together with its model variants, the luxury sedan is a point of reference and an example for the automobile industry. The new generation continues this tradition. The interplay between emotion and intelligence becomes tangible, and awakens desire for the brand and for the S-Class itself. Innovation in combination with the latest technology and traditional craftsmanship make the vehicle unique.

With a short front overhang, a long wheelbase and a balanced rear overhang, the S-Class is designed as a classical sedan with perfect proportions. Other unmistakable exterior features include the stretched hood, upright front end with the mounted star, the long passenger cell and the flowing C-pillar with its sculptured shoulder. The claim of the S-Class to high status is indicated by the excellent prestige measurement, i.e. the distance from the front axle to the windshield. The wide track and flush-mounted wheels with modern designs give the vehicle a muscular look.

The character lines have been greatly reduced along the sides. Cleverly contoured surfaces with a sculptured look create special light effects. At the same time they embody the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of sensual purity. Chrome elements stylishly positioned by the designers - i.e. a decorative lower strip on the side sills - further embellish the S-Class and accentuate its length.

The front section impresses with its luxurious radiator grille. The numerous sensors and cameras of the assistance systems are attractively and symmetrically integrated into the design, and deliberately accentuated as high-tech elements.

The headlamps characterize the front aspect of the car. They have the three-point daytime driving light signature that is typical of the S-Class, but this is flatter and slightly smaller overall.

Seamless door handles (standard) and sophisticated wheel designs (size 19 to 21 inches) accentuate the side view. The dynamic appearance of the car is continued through the rear. Details such as the two visible exhaust tailpipes contribute to an unmistakable appearance that is typical of a Mercedes-Benz. They are accompanied by the surprising design of the trunk lid in combination with the progressive, two-section rear lights. The chrome strip at the upper edge of the rear lights accentuates the width of the rear.

Thanks to precisely designed, highly detailed interior features and certain animated functions, the rear lights contribute to the high quality features. They make the new S-Class unmistakable in both their day and night design.

Much ado for a low drag coefficient

With a C figure from 0.22, the S-Class is one of the world's most aerodynamic cars, specifically in the luxury sedan segment. Aerodynamic measures affecting the body, underbody and detachable parts result in positive findings in the wind tunnel and in real operation. Extensive airflow simulations were carried out using high- performance computer clusters during an early development phase. A great deal of fine-tuning also went into the aeroacoustics. The previous generation of the S-Class already excelled with a very high level of interior noise comfort, the new S-Class was able to build upon this high level of interior noise control creating an even quieter in cabin experience.

Although the frontal area (A) of the new S-Class has increased slightly to 2.5 sq. m., the drag coefficient has been reduced even further compared to the preceding model. The product of Cd and A is 0.56 sq. m., which is 200 sq. cm less than for the previous model after its last facelift.

One major focus of the aerodynamic measures was on the airflow in and around the front bumper. The space between the front wheel arch and the bumper is used as an air chamber. There are slits in the side walls of the recesses in the outer area of the bumper, these force air into the chambers and avoid interruption of the airflow ahead of the front wheels. At the same time some of the hot exhaust air from the engine compartment is directed into the air chamber. This is assisted by more effective sealing between the engine compartment and wheel arches. Each of the inlets ahead of the front wheels has a large exhaust air aperture preceded by a 3D suction spoiler. The mixture of cold and warm air is fed through these exhaust air apertures and ventilation slits to the insides of the front wheel arches. This result ensures the best possible airflow along the underside of the vehicle and along the sides of the front wheel arches, and also benefits thermal management in the engine compartment. In addition, the engine compartment paneling between the front wheels has been widened to reinforce this effect. Thanks to this improved thermal management, it has become possible to extend the rear engine compartment paneling even further to reduce aerodynamic drag in comparison with a preceding model with a comparable engine.

Detailed improvements to the underbody and mounted parts such as the exterior mirrors and wheels also contribute to the very good aerodynamic performance of the vehicle.

  • The new S-Class has two-section rear light clusters. Owing to their lower height compared to the single-section version, it was necessary to dispense with spoiler lips in the lenses. This meant that particular attention was given to improving the airflow to the rear diffuser.
  • S-Class models with the panoramic glass sunroof have diagonal rear struts in the underbody to rigidify the bodyshell. To improve aerodynamic drag, these have been removed from the diffuser airflow and relocated above the exhaust system.
  • The position and airflow angles of the aerodynamically shaped cladding on the rear spring control arms and the fuel tank guard were reconfigured with further CFD-DOE improvements and individual calculations, then later fine-tuned in the wind tunnel.
  • The exterior mirrors feature aerostripes. These fine edges on the insides of the mirrors create turbulence and improve the airflow. The aerostripes also benefit the aeroacoustics.
  • Other measures include aero-wheels in almost every size, a cooling airflow control system behind the radiator grille and in the bumper, and improved sealing of the cooling airflow.

The three-dimensional airflow pattern around the vehicle was already calculated in high-performance simulation clusters using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) in an early development phase. Shortly after this project started, during the dimensional drawing phase, several extensive DOE (Design of Experiments) studies were carried out on the basis of the preceding model, with up to 250 calculations per body area. In this process the aerodynamic engineers specify the parameters for certain components, i.e. the possible height of the trunk lid.

Hundreds of simulations were carried out over several days, fully covering the scope of the prescribed parameters. These simulations can be used to calculate a global or local optimum or, far more importantly in this phase, establish the influence of the individual parameters on the drag coefficient. Using the DOE method, specific aerodynamic requirements were reported to and discussed with personnel working on the dimensional concept and design in a very early phase.

In recent years such automated calculation processes including DOE have been intensively developed further by Mercedes-Benz aerodynamic engineers. As a result, digital development with DOE not only saves time, but is also cost- efficient: the preceding model required up to six hardware models, the new S-Class required only two 1:1 design models for wind tunnel improvements thanks to digital frontloading, i.e. advance selection of variants.

Aeroacoustics and NVH: even quieter interior than the previous model

The aim of sound insulation was to further improve the noise level in the interior. The high rigidity of the bodyshell provides the basis for outstanding noise and vibration comfort, and is enhanced with fine-tuning. For example, the apertures for the cable grommets in the firewall have double seals. To achieve an engine sound that is as refined and unobtrusive in the interior, the firewall insulation has been extended into the side areas of the A-pillars and the floor area.

Mercedes-Benz is also using acoustic foam in certain bodyshell sections for the first time in series production. In this process a special foam is packed into the bodyshell while these areas are still accessible. These foam sections then expand in the oven during cathodic dip painting (CDP). This process has considerably improved sound insulation in the body structure - i.e. sound transmission through the C-pillar.

The S-Class was developed in the in-house aeroacoustics wind tunnel, which went into operation in 2013. To reduce wind noise, the bodyshell and sealing concept were improved as well as optimizing the vehicle shape. Aeroacoustics measures in detail:

  • The exterior mirrors feature aerostripes. These fine edges on the insides of the mirrors create turbulence and ensure that the airflow is better able to follow the mirror contours, while reducing cutoff noise. The interior features were also fine-tuned: during the development phase, computer tomography was used for the mirror triangle. In this way the installed position of rails and multi-foam seals was verified.
  • The new, seamless door handles (standard) are better sealed on the inside than conventional designs.
  • The seals in the window areas were improved, and the gap reduced.
  • Extensive airflow measures for the panoramic sliding sunroof ensure a high level of noise comfort.

The S-Class has green-tinted thermal insulation glass as standard. The windshield is made of laminated safety glass with an integral acoustic membrane, while the side windows and rear window are of single-pane safety glass. Laminated safety glass all-round is available as standard equipment. This insulates against heat and noise, and reflects infrared radiation.

More than meets the eye

The seamless door handles (standard) are a completely new development. They are electrically extended when the driver approaches, or when the outer surface of the door handle is touched. Keyless access is provided by KEYLESS-GO.

The door handles are retracted when not in use and when traveling, and are flush with the door. If the door is to be opened, the handle is extended to its operating position in a parallel movement. Compared to pivoting door handles, a handle extending in parallel offers a much larger surface area and can be gripped with the whole hand.

When developing this visually impressive handle, great attention was paid to tolerances. The control electronics do not require classic end position switches and extend the handles with a wide load tolerance, and as a visually and acoustically attractive movement. The door handle exudes high quality and solidity.

Additional operating convenience is provided by KEYLESS-GO functions integrated into the seamless door handle. For example, the door handles are already extended as soon as a person with the key approaches the vehicle. Other operations of KEYLESS-GO are via capacitive sensor arrays on the handle for the main functions: unlocking the vehicle, locking and comfort closing, and requesting a retracted door handle. To open the door it is sufficient to pull the handle slightly, which opens the door lock with electric motor assistance.

With the seamless door handles, the central locking system and KEYLESS-GO blend into a single operation whenever the vehicle is accessed. The door handles are extended in special situations, i.e. after an accident.

Digital-analog revolution in the interior

Modern luxury reaches a new level with the interior of the S-Class. The designers have created a feel-good ambience with lounge characteristics marked by elegance, high quality and spaciousness. Particular highlights include the dashboard with its new architecture, modern surface design and ergonomic display arrangement. The aim and ambition of the Mercedes-Benz interior designers was to harmonize digital and analog luxury in the vehicle interior.

The S-Class has always been a place for comfortable travel and relaxed working. With the new generation, the interior has fully evolved into a "third place", a refuge between home and workplace. Nearly all comfort-related dimensions of the S-Class have been improved in the front as well as the rear seats, with a generous amount of space.

The desired harmony between digital and analog luxury results in a revolutionary interior design, including associations with interior architecture and yacht design elements. The sculptured look of the dashboard, center console and armrests appear to float above an expansive interior landscape. The systematic reduction in the number of controls underscores the minimalist appearance of the interior. A fine divide between the upper section of the dashboard and the large trim element structures the area and creates horizontal breadth. This interface is also where the active ambient lighting is located.

In addition potential for up to five screens, highlights include the large trim elements in the dashboard and in the rear (with the Executive Rear Seat Package). These flow around the passengers and are a systematic further development of the wrap-around effect. One particularly attractive version of the trim is an open-pore wood veneer shot through with inlays of real aluminum that follow the contours. The "Novum" trim variant consists of a mixed metallic weave which accentuates the elegant, sporty styling.

New design elements include the flat, four-square center vents with horizontal nacelles. Two slim, vertical side vents on each side round off the ends of the dashboard. The air volume is controlled by hard keys with LED displays. The avantgarde geometry of the vents and their decorative nature accentuate the modern look.

The seats invite the occupants to sit down and relax. The flowing, three-dimensional layer design theme gives an impression of airiness. Different finishes give the seats various characters. For example, the progressive diamond pattern of nappa leather and Exclusive nappa leather provides a classical and expressive appearance.

Mercedes-Benz introduced electric seat adjustment in 1980. Since then, many vehicle generations have featured the brand's hallmark seat adjustment switch in the form of a stylized seat in the door. This control has been completely redesigned for the new S-Class. Visible joints have been reduced by combining the trim with the seat controls. The geometry and surround lighting of the control panel make the seat adjustment control appear to float on the door panel. The newly developed pressure sensors for seat adjustment open up new design possibilities. Thanks to the practically fixed control buttons, minimal gaps between the individual controls can be realized. This also allows for very small apertures in the black panel trim. This creates a slim, filigree, floating design of the control buttons. The pressure sensors also allow a continuous coupling of operating pressure and speed.

Choice of four display styles and three modes

The driver display and media display offer a comprehensive aesthetic experience. The appearance of the screens can be individualized with a choice of four display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Exclusive, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service) Examples of new features:

  • In "Discreet", seven different color schemes are available for the instrumentation, and the 64 colors of the ambient lighting are grouped accordingly.
  • "Sporty" is dominated by the color red, with dynamic presentation of the central rev counter.
  • The new display scheme "Exclusive" in an attractive white mother-of-pearl look reserved for the S-Class. In night mode and when passing through tunnels, the system automatically switches to a darker display.
  • In "Assistance" mode, important events, the infrastructure and other road users (cars, motorcycles, and trucks) are shown.
  • The augmented reality head-up display is all-new, and projects important information into the real environment.

Light, recycled or renewable

More than 198 lbs of components made from resource-conserving materials are used in the S-Class. The number of components containing recyclates is now 120 - more than twice as many as in the preceding model. Another 88 lbs or so are made from renewable raw materials. The process of environmentally compatible development with specific targets is firmly embedded in the overall development process. Environmental aspects are already taken into account in the conceptual phase.

Recycling plastic waste and using recycled plastics conserves primary raw materials, while saving energy and CO2 emissions compared to products based on crude oil. The challenge lies in developing plastic recyclates that meet all current technical requirements with respect to safety, quality and functionality.

This has now become possible for the cable ducts that route the electrical lines through the vehicle. This advancement meant testing of various materials made from recycled plastics. One aspect of this testing and development was also testing and perfecting the recyclates with respect to emissions into the interior and odors. The new cable ducts add another 6 lbs to the total weight of resource-conserving materials.

Lightweight construction with a natural fiber microsandwich

Lower weight not only reduces the amount of material used, but also the energy needed to move the vehicle. A microsandwich material was developed for the interior of the S-Class, and in most components this is reinforced with natural fibers. It not only weighs 40 percent less than a comparable, conventional component, but its thermal formability also allows use in complex applications and its strength improves crash behavior compared to previously used materials. In the S-Class, the microsandwich is used in the map pockets in the door panels, in the seat backrest linings and for the parcel shelf. The use of this natural fiber based microsandwich and the resulting weight reduction lead to a lower primary energy requirement from production and use right up to the disposal phase.

Carpeting of recycled Nylon threads

A new, recycled thread is now used for the floor coverings. This thread - brandname ECONYL® - consists of regenerated Nylon. It is manufactured by recovering Nylon waste destined for the landfill, for example old fish nets and fabric remnants from mills and carpets. These are collected and transformed into a new thread having the same properties as nylon from new raw materials. The recycling process used to produce the thread saves CO2 in comparison with new production. It also enables Mercedes-Benz to keep materials in circulation.

High-tech for maximum comfort

Up to 19 motors in the front seats make for comfortable seating - a number that indicates the complexity of the technology installed in the seats. However, the seats not only play a major part for comfort, but also for safety. When it comes to luxurious wellbeing: all the seats available for the S-Class carry the seal of approval by the Healthy Seating campaign.

The wealth of technology is accommodated in a new design whose weight has not increased despite the new content. The backrest is now isolated from the seat surface, which has advantages in terms of transmitted vibrations and crash behavior. The seat cushion takes the form of a steel-sprung half shell of sheet steel with foam upholstery and a seat cover. The moldings for attachment to the seat adjustment system are integrated into the half shells. The springs are pretensioned when the seat depth is increased. Seat adjustment therefore adapts the spring characteristics for larger and heavier occupants. An innovative microsandwich material is used in the seatback lining. More information: "Under the microscope: resource-conserving materials".

ENERGIZING seat kinetics is now available in the S-Class for the first time. Small changes in the angles of the seat surface and backrest tension and relax the muscles, benefiting the circulation. The list of drive motors and actuators in each seat for the following functions shows the complexity of the seat as a high-tech component:

  • Longitudinal adjustment
  • Height adjustment
  • Inclination adjustment
  • Seat cushion depth adjustment
  • Backrest angle
  • Head restraint height adjustment
  • Head restraint angle
  • Heel support (only front passenger seat)
  • Rear Seat Entertainment/displays for passengers in the rear. On the front passenger side, the inclination is automatically adjusted to the angle of the backrest to keep the same angle of vision. Naturally the rear passengers can also adjust the monitors individually. At the driver's seat the monitor is always adjusted by hand.
  • 4 vibration motors for massage
  • 5 fan motors
  • a motor for the lumbar support pump in the basic seats. The pump for the inflatable side bolsters of the multicontour seat is centrally installed in the trunk.

Additionally, the seats also play an increasingly major role where safety is concerned. Up to four airbags (sidebag as a combined thorax-pelvis bag, the new rear airbag and the air chamber of PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side) have to be accommodated. More about this in the chapters "The rear airbag" and "Protective measures in a side crash".

Other new features in the seat apply if the Burmester® high-end 4D surround sound system is equipped. These features include two resonators in the backrests. These convert bass tones into vibrations, making music an even more engaging experience. Ear-level speakers integrated into the head restraints improve communication. For example, the driver can hear instructions from the navigation system without disturbing the other occupants. More about this in the chapter "The sound systems"

Ten different massage programs are available in the new S-Class. Two new programs specially designed for the S-Class use vibration motors. The effect of the relaxing massage in combination with seat heating is similar to that of a hot stone massage. To this end, the seat heating is combined with the inflatable air chambers in the active multicontour seats. The air chambers are now closer to the seat surface, and are therefore even easier to control and feel. The massage programs take between eight and eighteen minutes. Their intensity can be chosen in two stages.

  • Hot Relaxing back massage
  • Hot Relaxing shoulder massage
  • Activating massage
  • Classic massage
  • Mobilizing massage
  • Wave massage
  • Deep Waves massage
  • Active Workout backrest
  • Active Workout cushion
  • Depth massage
  • Depth workout

More concentration when working, greater relaxation

Two different rear seat variants make it possible to configure the rear of the S-Class as a working or rest area. One new feature is the heatable additional cushion for the rear head restraints. The adjustment range and angle of the front passenger seat in the chauffeur configuration and the reclining seat behind it have been improved as well.

An adjustable and heatable additional cushion on the head restraints is a new feature for the outer rear seats. This uses an integrated heating membrane to give pleasant warmth in the occupant's head and neck area. The heating function is activated via the seat heating. The power is conveniently and safely supplied via the push buttons of the removable cushion. The additional cushion is included with the Executive Line.

With the Chauffeur package, included in the Executive Line, the driver and front passenger can electrically move the front passenger seat to a chauffeur position. The adjustment range and angles of the front passenger seat and the reclining seat behind it have been improved in various respects: Thanks to a modified head restraint, the front passenger backrest can