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Welcome arrow Articles arrow Car Reviews arrow New S-Class Hits the Streets
New S-Class Hits the Streets PDF Print E-mail

The last few years have been somewhat torrid for DaimlerChrysler: its share price lost over half its value following the takeover by the German company of its American counterpart in 1998; the Smart brand continues to lose money; quality problems at Mercedes-Benz resulted in the recall of 1.3 million vehicles; and more recently, the thorny question of succession arose with chairman Jürgen Schrempp out and Chrysler boss Dieter Zetsche instated as the head of the company.

But one of the major conundrums facing DaimlerChrysler was how to better its top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz, the hugely successful S-Class?  Introduced in 1998, the S-Class has become the sedan of choice for heads of state, business leaders and even major criminals.  For a start, it lends itself to armor-plating and rocket-propelled grenade protection, while having a ubiquitous presence even in far-flung, Third-World countries.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Launched this month (September) at the important Frankfurt motor show, the 2006 S-Class demonstrates just how much thought and planning has gone into the new car.  A host of innovative safety features has created a car that almost thinks for itself when it comes to accident avoidance. 

The brake-assist system, pioneered on Mercedes-Benz cars but now adopted by many luxury manufacturers, has been taken one step further with the adoption of an integrated radar system that registers vehicles ahead and gives a warning if the gap is too small or the closing speed too high.  If a collision is imminent, Brake Assist Plus, as it is called, calculates the ideal braking distance and makes this available immediately, even if the driver applies too little pedal pressure to the brakes.  While all this is going on the brake lights flash to alert following traffic.

To complement the sophisticated braking set-up, Mercedes-Benz has come up with an occupant protection device that recognises potential accident situations and tensions the front seat belts as a precaution, while inflating air cushions in the seats to support the driver and passengers.  The system also closes all the windows, although this is likely to be redundant in the heat of Thailand.

An option is the remarkable Distronic proximity control apparatus which will operate between speeds of zero and 200 km/h, maintaining a safe distance between the car and the traffic ahead, automatically braking the sedan to a standstill if necessary and accelerating back up to speed when traffic permits.  The same radar is used for the park assist which warns the driver of an impending bump.

The new S-Class is larger than its predecessor in all dimensions, offering more interior space and a larger trunk.  Air suspension is standard on all models but now, at the touch of a button, the driver can select sport or comfort mode.  In sport mode and at speeds over 120 km/h the suspension automatically lowers by 20 millimeters to improve handling, aerodynamics and fuel consumption.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The latest S-Class will be available in some markets in 2006 as a diesel-electric hybrid, an advanced system developed in conjunction with General Motors.  Combining a V8 CDI diesel motor with twin electric motors delivers a maximum of 340 bhp (241 kW), a new record for a car with hybrid systems.

More conventional engines are currently on offer, beginning with a 3.5 liter V6; a new eight-cylinder unit with a mighty torque figure of 530 Newton meters, on tap from just 2,800 rpm; a re-worked V12 motor; and a new V6 CDI direct-injection diesel engine which will come on stream in early 2006.  All V6 and V8 models are fitted with Mercedes’ unique seven-speed automatic transmission.

The previous S-Class, which has been repeatedly voted ‘Best Car in the World’ in various polls, was clearly going to be a hard act to follow.  Space prevents a more detailed account of the new car but suffice it to say, Mercedes-Benz engineers in Germany have come up with something that will endure another seven years and which, undoubtedly, will again be a top seller in the luxury segment. DaimlerChrysler can breathe a little easier for now.

 

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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