Mercedes-Benz will take the luxury car to a new level with the sixth-generation S-class, revealed here ahead of its world debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Ditching the familiar appearance of today’s six-year-old model, the new S-class, codenamed W221, adopts a leaner, more edgy look. While the shape of the front end is refreshingly sleek, the rear has more than a passing resemblance to the Maybach über-limo.
At the forefront of the S-class’s technological offensive is a series of new safety features that form part of Mercedes’ upgraded Pre-Safe system. They include an early warning set-up that uses an upgraded Distronic cruise control system to identify objects in front of the car. When it detects a car pulling in front suddenly at motorway speeds, it automatically triggers the Pre-Safe system, tightening the seat belts, moving the seats to a pre-determined position and closing the windows. The same process is triggered when the ESP (electronic stability program) determines a total loss of traction for a prolonged period.
The new S-class will also be equipped with a lane-departure system which will monitor road markings and warn about unintended lane changes. Also set for introduction is an optional night vision system, which projects enhanced images of the road ahead onto a dashboard monitor. Merc’s system is based around a newly developed infra-red sensor that is claimed to identify objects quicker and deliver much sharper images than existing thermal systems. Inside, Mercedes plans to improve the S-class’s already impressive safety credentials with a knee airbag, together with improved front, side and curtain ’bags.