Mercedes-Benz will be launching its all-new S-Class (W223) next month and typical of the company when it comes to the prelude to a new model, information usually trickles out to highlight the innovations that the new model will introduce. In the case of the new S-Class, the company has released details of its enhanced PRE-SAFE system which has been constantly evolving since first being introduced in the 2003 S-Class (W220).
A new function is PRE-SAFE Impulse Side, which sees augmented measures in the pre-impact phase: when a side impact is likely, the car’s body can be raised up to 80 mm by the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension (an optional feature) within a few tenths of a second. This directs the impact forces towards particularly resistant structures in the lower area of the bodywork.
There are also new occupant protection measures which are derived from many of the innovations in the ESF2019 Experimental Safety Vehicle. Firstly, the rear occupants will have the additional protection of airbags and this is the world’s first frontal airbag for the two passengers on the outer rear seats.
Its design with an innovative, tubular structure is unique. The cylindrical structures are inflated with compressed gas and deploy a wing-shaped structure. A large, tent-like airbag then deploys between the two wings and this is inflated by the surrounding air via specially patented valves in the skin. These valves are designed so that the air cannot escape when the rear passenger is immersed in the airbag.
The comparatively small volume of the tubes allows rapid deployment of a relatively large airbag volume. This takes place with comparatively low force and a low risk of injury, as the tubular wings give way to obstacles. The airbag enhances the restraining effect of the belt system, and can support the head and neck to decrease the loads on them significantly. In combination with a beltbag and the inflatable seatbelt, the S-Class will set new standards for rear seat occupant safety.
Also new is a centrally located airbag (availability depends on country) between the driver and front passenger seat. During a severe side impact, the airbag positions itself between the driver and front passenger seat, reducing the risk of their heads making contact. It is integrated into the driver’s seatback in the middle of the car. The airbag is triggered when a severe side collision is recognised, and certain conditions are met.
There will also be new illuminated designer belt buckles (also optional) which are easy to locate. It’s a small touch which some may say is unnecessary cost, but it should make attaching the seatbelt easier.
In combination with the MBUX Interior Assistant, a camera can now be used to detect a childseat on the front passenger seat for the first time. A belt fastening message for the childseat appears in the central display before the driver moves off. Until now, and in many cars, the presence of a childseat is usually determined by a sensor in the front passenger’s seat.
The new S-Class will have the latest generation of the Driving Assistance Package with new and numerous improved functions. One of the two examples which Mercedes-Benz is revealing now is Active Blind Spot Assist to prevent opening of the door when another vehicle is coming up along the side of the car. The exit warning function now will give a warning as soon as the driver or front passenger reaches for the door. The MBUX Interior Assistant will recognise when a hand approaches the door handle and a visual warning is given by a red warning triangle in the exterior mirror and via the active ambient lighting.
Active Steering Assist is another example and this will assist the driver in forming an emergency corridor, and encourage other drivers to form a corridor as well. Thanks to improved environmental sensors and integration into MBUX, the parking systems give the driver even better support when manoeuvring at low speed. 12 ultrasonic sensors at the front and rear provide improved performance so the positions of road-users and objects can be registered reliably and highly precisely.