Mercedes adds improved Active Body Control and rear-wheel steering to new S-Class

In the lead up to the reveal of its redesigned S-Class in September, Mercedes-Benz is dropping details on the new flagship sedan. We previously learned about some of the interior technology pegged for the car, and now Mercedes has detailed some of the comfort and safety features we can look forward to.

Chief among these is an improved version of the optional Active Body Control suspension damping system. The technology has been around for a while and is basically a way of controlling the level of suspension damping at individual wheels, and as a result ride comfort, using electronics.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype demonstrates side-impact injury mitigation

Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype demonstrates side-impact injury mitigation

In the new S-Class, the system uses information from more sensors than ever—20 all up—as well as a camera that scans the road ahead and then adjusts the damping at each wheel to counter body roll, pitch and lift. The system monitors the driving situation 1,000 times per second and can make adjustments in an instant. It can also for the first time raise the side of vehicle if it detects a side impact is imminent, helping to direct impact forces into the floor of the vehicle where there are stronger crash-impact zones. This same feature is already available on the Audi A8.

The new S-Class will also feature more airbags than its predecessor, including as an option frontal airbags for passengers in the rear, a world first. The new S-Class will also be fitted with a center airbag for passengers up front. Located on the side of the driver’s seat, this airbag inflates itself between the driver and front passenger seat, reducing the risk of their heads making contact in the case of a violent side-impact crash.

Mercedes-Benz frontal airbag for rear-seat passengers

Mercedes-Benz frontal airbag for rear-seat passengers

Mercedes has also added an improved surround-view camera system to the new S-Class. Thanks to four cameras and 12 sensors, the positions of surrounding objects can be registered reliably and highly precisely. The interactive image shown on the display can be rotated and even zoomed if needed.

The new system also helps with the automatic parking function which can now recognize and suggest more parking spots, including for the first time parking spaces defined by lines instead of only vehicles as previously.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype demonstrates rear-wheel steering

Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype demonstrates rear-wheel steering

Also making parking easier will be an optional rear-wheel-steering system. At low speeds, the rear wheels move in an opposite direction to the front wheels, improving manoeuvrability dramatically by way of a reduced turning circle. At higher speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in unison, helping to improve stability. For reasons that are unclear, Mercedes will offer two versions of the system, one where the rear wheels can turn up to 4.5 degrees and another where they turn up to 10 degrees.

Other handy features added to the new S-Class include illuminated belt buckles, which should make finding them at the rear easier, as well as an exit warning system that checks the corresponding blind spot when the driver or front passenger reaches for the door.

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