48-volt tech allows more power-hungry features
Upgraded cameras, sensors, and steering for self-parking assistance
Getting ready to launch the new S-Class, Mercedes-Benz is now talking about how the car can handle. Not just how the big sedan can manoeuvre in town, but how now its airbags and air suspension can work together to better handle side-impact collisions, and how it can handle letting you drive a bit less.
We’ll start with that new high-tech suspension system. Thanks to the 48-volt electrical system, there’s more power to do everything and that includes E-Active Body Control. If the system detects an impending side impact, the suspension can raise that side of the car up to 80 mm in a fraction of a second. Doing that directs the impact lower down on the chassis, where the vehicle is stronger. A new optional airbag for side impacts deflates more slowly, doing a better job of keeping the rear outboard passengers in place.
Rear steering uses an electric motor and drive belt that turns the rear wheels up to 10 degrees. That makes it more stable on the highway and much more manoeuvrable for parking. Because Mercedes-Benz is obsessively thorough, there’s even a “snow chain” mode that adjusts the rear steering for winter.
Helping avoid accidents in the first place are features like active blind spot assist that stops you opening the door if there’s something coming and active steering assist that will now help you make an emergency corridor near an accident scene. In Europe, drivers on a divided highway pull to the opposite sides of their lane, leaving a wide space down the middle for emergency services and tow trucks, instead of blocking everything like we do here.
Active parking has 12 improved sensors and is easier to use, and can use the rear steer to tighten up the parking job. A 3D surround-view camera is available that can spot more parking spaces, spaces with lines but no cars around, and other tricks to help with one of the worst parts of driving.
Still no word on when we’ll finally see the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class.