All-New Mercedes-Benz S-Class Debuts in Detroit
5 January 1999All-New Mercedes-Benz S-Class Debuts in Detroit
World Standard for Premium Luxury Ups the Ante for Safety, Performance, Comfort and Useful Technology DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- The model-year 2000 Mercedes-Benz S-Class premium luxury sedan made its U.S. debut today during press activities preceding the North American International Auto Show (Jan. 9-17) at Detroit's Cobo Center. The all-new S-Class will arrive in Mercedes-Benz Centers across the U.S. in spring. The new flagship sedan is designed to set new standards for safety, performance, occupant comfort and value in the premium luxury class. The striking design of the all-new S-Class is highlighted by a coupe-like profile and a unique "face" reminiscent of the company's oval-headlight models. Although total length is three inches shorter, rear legroom -- already among the greatest in the industry -- has been increased by nearly an inch over the previous model. Making use of a variety of lightweight materials such as high-strength aluminum and magnesium, the new car is also nearly 500 pounds lighter than the previous S-Class, providing even better performance and fuel efficiency. When the S-Class arrives this spring, there will be two V8-powered models: the S430 with a 275-horsepower 4.3-liter V8 and the S500 with a 302-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. Professor Juergen Hubbert, DaimlerChrysler Board member in charge of passenger cars, said, "This car is not just impressive in its interior dimensions. In addition to its brilliant technology, the especially fascinating feature of this car is its stylish elegance, both inside and out." The leaner, sleeker S-Class features groundbreaking automotive technology which is likely to lead the way for the rest of the auto industry. For example, its smart passenger airbag can deploy with partial force in a low-speed collision and full force at higher speeds. In addition to full frontal airbags, the new S-Class comes with head-protection curtain airbags that span each side of the car, as well as a door-mounted side airbag in each of its four doors. Although frontal collisions are by far the most common type of accident, side impacts are more likely to cause serious injury. The curtain airbag deploys like an air mattress to protect the head and shoulders in a side collision, and it works in conjunction with the door-mounted sidebags, which provide protection for the chest and hip area. GPS Navigation System Standard The all-new S-Class will come standard with a satellite-based navigation system, and its display on the center console is also used for the audio systems and telephone. This integrated COMAND (Cockpit Management And Data) system uses fiber optic technology for fast response and can be directed by voice commands, controls on the steering wheel or buttons around the display screen. The steering wheel of the all-new Mercedes S-Class provides the driver with far more than just a way to steer the car. Four large illuminated rocker buttons provide an easy and convenient way to control many of the car's systems and also a method to diagnose any faults that occur. The S-Class for the new millennium marks the debut of the world's first smart cruise control system, which can automatically maintain a pre-set distance behind the car in front with the help of a radar sensor. While the optional smart cruise control (available in September, 1999) can vary the accelerator like conventional cruise control, it can also maintain the desired following distance -- even by applying partial braking automatically if needed. An LCD diagram in the center of the speedometer graphically depicting two vehicles shows what's happening. Even climate control is "smart" on the all-new S-Class: the system can vary temperature and air flow individually, not only in response to where the sun is shining but also based on where each occupant is sitting. TeleAid: Help Is Just A Button Away The innovative TeleAid system that will debut on the all-new S-Class offers three distinct kinds of services from a three-button module on the rear-view mirror. In an emergency situation, the customer can press an "SOS" button, which will immediately establish voice contact with Protection One, a provider contracted by Mercedes-Benz. The Protection One representative can dispatch local police or other emergency services. Pressing this button also transmits to Protection One crucial information about the customer, including the precise location of the vehicle (through the GPS tracking) and the model of the car and its color (to help emergency services visually locate the car quickly). Protection One can also dispatch local police, fire or emergency services if voice contact is not established (e.g., the customer is unable to respond). If a collision deploys any airbag, the system automatically establishes contact with Protection One, relaying all pertinent information. The onboard transmitter is crash-secure, and has access to redundant antennae. TeleAid includes two other buttons for non-emergency use. One marked with the symbol of a wrench puts the customer in contact with the Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance. Another marked with the letter "i" connects the customer with the Mercedes-Benz Client Assistance Center, which can answer customer questions about the car, for example. A Sedan That Drives Like A Sports Coupe For the best possible balance of performance and comfort, the chassis of the millennium S-Class uses fully independent four-link front and five-link rear suspension with a new type of air suspension incorporating the Mercedes-Benz adaptive damping system. Rack-and-pinion steering provides a variable ratio and speed-sensitive power assist -- both for responsive "road feel" at speed and, at the same time, light steering effort during low-speed maneuvers such as parking. Large four-wheel vented, cross-drilled disc brakes are enhanced with four-channel ABS anti-lock brakes and Brake Assist, which can reduce braking distances in emergency or "panic" stops. (Brake Assist was the first system of its kind when it was introduced on many model-year 1998 Mercedes models, and was made standard on all Mercedes passenger vehicles for model-year 1999.) In addition, the standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP) helps to keep the car going where the driver is steering it, and ESP incorporates traction control as well. Taking Luxury To A Higher Level The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been among the roomiest luxury cars in the world, and the all-new series continues in this tradition. Despite the reduced length, width and height of the all-new S-Class relative to its predecessor, interior room and comfort remains at segment-leading levels. Rear legroom, in fact, has been increased by 7/10-inch. The luxury treatment starts as you enter the car. Like its predecessor, the all-new S-Class comes equipped as standard with hydraulic door-closing assists and a trunk-closing assist. The overall design theme of the S-Class interior conveys luxurious warmth, from its standard full leather upholstery to the way the instrument panel flows into the door panels. The design goal was to reduce driving stress as much as technology and good design sense would allow. Although the focus is on function and comfort, the design is meant to please the eyes, too. Genuine wood trim is standard -- burl walnut on the S500 and eucalyptus for the S430. The S500 interior notches up the luxurious feel with exclusive Nappa leather upholstery. The previous S-Class introduced 12-way power front seats that could actually vary the length of the seat cushion, among other adjustments. The all-new S-Class seats offer 14-way adjustment, plus an innovative new head restraint design that can function as a pillow for maximum comfort. The seats feature standard "multicontour" power adjustments, which adjusts lumbar support. A special Climate Comfort ventilated seat available on the S500 model circulates air through the seat cushion to draw off perspiration in hot weather. The climate seat also features an "Active Lumbar" mode in which air chambers built into the seatback can be programmed to breathe -- to inflate and deflate fully about twice each minute. This slight movement has proven to be an effective orthopedic way to relax the spine and back muscles. The previous Mercedes-Benz S-Class elevated the quality of sound available in a car with its innovative Bose Beta sound system. In the all-new S-Class, the Bose Beta II sound system is designed to set the standard for sound clarity and soundstage positioning in a passenger vehicle. Digital signal processing allows the driver to select different soundstage settings to optimize the sound for the number of occupants on board and the listening program. From a driver in the car alone listening to talk radio to a full car listening to symphonic or vocal music, there is a setting to make the listening experience more enjoyable and memorable. Pricing for the all-new S-Class, which will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is certain to establish a new value paradigm in the premium luxury segment.