In the luxury class of motor cars, it is somewhat taken for granted that high standards of vehicle safety can be assumed. Indeed, it is often forgotten that, in the drive to produce ever-more comfortable cars with ever-improving road handling skills, these development are, in themselves, safety factors: better road-holding and handling equals safer driving experiences.
Philosophically, Mercedes-Benz divides its Integral Safety Concept for vehicle safety into four phases: Phase 1: safe driving; Phase 2: in critical situations; Phase 3: in an accident and Phase 4: after an accident. Insofar as the technical core of safety is concerned, Mercedes Benz engenders its S-class with a nervous system of the entire driver assistance system called “Intelligent Drive“.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class presents a refreshed aesthetic, new powertrains, and a reworked interior – safety-wise, however, Mercedes is amping up the active safety features of the S-Class’s mid-cycle refresh with better cameras and radar units that see farther down the road, and Active Distance Assist Distronic is added. Distronic is the Mercedes Benz adaptive cruise control, and this now applies more map and navigation data to refine information submissions to the driver, resulting in the system adjusting route-specific vehicle speeds. Better yet, the S-Class slows down appropriately for bends, junctions, roundabouts and en toll booths.
Active Speed Limit Assist identifies local speeds with the assistance of the navigation system as well as by reading traffic signs, adjusting speeds to conform. Meanwhile, Active Steering Assist autonomously (see below) keeps the vehicle in its lane, additionally keeping a safe distance and make steering safer and, if that’s not enough, Evasive Steering Assist can be activated to apply additional steering torque should the driver attempt to avoid colliding with an obstacle.
Active Emergency Stop Assist intervenes if it appears that a driver has not been operating the vehicle. Active braking will stop the car, activate the hazard lights and unlock the doors. Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function is a typical forward emergency braking system that also detects crossing traffic and pedestrians, warns the driver audibly and with lights, and applies the brakes to avoid or mitigate the severity of a crash.
The Intelligent Drive system now uses map data to transition into corners more smoothly, and when the adaptive cruise control is engaged, the S-class can change lanes for the driver when the turn signal is activated and the adjacent lane is clear. Lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring are now both standard features for 2018. These are all semi-autonomous tech debuts in the S-class for 2018 in a move toward a wholly autonomous vehicle. Mercedes-Benz continuously explores and develops technologies to towards a goal of accident-free driving. The 2018 S-Class serves as a really effective stepping stone in this process.
We will assess an inventory of safety factors by phase of the Integral Safety Concept:
Phase 1: safe driving
Taking a proactive view, Mercedes acknowledges that most accidents start long before the actual collision: these are a result of ‘unanticipatable’ events – lapse in concentration, poor visibility or surprise hazards. Mercedes Benz also knows that forewarned is not sufficient to prevent crisis and deploys a range of measures designed to help a driver bring critical situations under control. These are:
- DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise controlwith STEER CONTROL and Stop & Go Pilot (optional)
- ADAPTIVE BRAKE with Hill-Start Assist,priming, brake drying and HOLD function
- Adaptive LED brake light, flashing
- Active Lane Keeping Assist (optional)
- Active Blind Spot Assist (optional)
- ATTENTION ASSIST
- BAS Brake Assist
- ESP® Dynamic Curve Assist
- Headlamp Assist
- i-Size child restraint system on therear outside seats
- LED Intelligent Light System(optional)
- Night View Assist Plus (optional)
- Reversing camera with dynamic guidelines in display (optional)
- Traffic Sign Assist
- Anti-lock ABS brakes
As you will already realize, there is too much to go into on a feature-by-feature basis, but the names of each are relatively self-explanatory and confirm that Mercedes engineering examines every aspect of the drive and passenger environment.
Phase 2: in critical situations
Safety features that come into play in the build-up to a collision are as follows:
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
- Acceleration skid control (ASR)
- BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist(optional)
- COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS
- PRE-SAFE® brake with pedestriandetection (optional)
- PRE-SAFE® system
Phase 3: in an accident
Assuming that the detective and preventative measures of Phase 1 and the responsive features of Phase 2 have not been able to keep S-class passengers safe, it can be assumed that the crisis situation is indeed, grave and so another host of Mercedes-Benz safety systems come into play.
- Airbags for driver and front passengerwith adaptive levels for the front-passenger airbag
- Front-impactairbags for the driver and passenger have been designed to protect the headduring a frontal crash
- Front-impactknee airbags protect the lower extremities in the event of an accident
- Sideimpact airbags – for the front and rear seats protect the torso during a sideimpact collision
- Overheadairbags protect passengers’ heads in the event of a side collision or rollover.
- Active bonnet for additionalpedestrian protection
- PRE-SAFE® impulse
- PRE-SAFE® rear package (optional)
- PRE-SAFE® PLUS (optional)
- Seatbelt Pretensioners automaticallytighten seatbelts to move passengers into optimal seating positions during collisions
- Anti-whiplash – anti-whiplash headrestraints actively respond to rear collision forces and cushion passengers’heads in to minimize the chances of whiplash injuries.
Phase 4: after an accident
To reduce consequential damage after an accident and support the work of the rescue services, a number of different actions are initiated, depending on the type and severity of the accident:
- The engine is switched off automatically and the fuel supply disengaged.
- Highly-visible lighting, including the hazard warning lights and interior emergency lighting are automatically activated for easy discovery and prevention of subsequent collisions.
- Easier vehicle access and rescue facilitation is possible via crash joints between the wing and the door that make opening the doors after a frontal collision easier; also, doors are automatically unlocked.
- As soon as the restraint system is aware that an accident has occurred, the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system(part of COMAND Online) can automatically place emergency calls through a connected mobile phone (data is transferred via a communications module with its own SIM card) and GPS positional data and other information is transferred through to an Mercedes-Benz emergency call centre.
- The rescue decal, a small, effective and innovative detail gives emergency services immediate access to safety-relevant vehicle-specific design details via a QR code stickers affixed to the vehicle’s fuel tank cap and the B-pillar on the opposite side which are scannable by means of a smart phone or tablet PC.
Finally, another feature that is not usually connected to vehicle safety in the minds of drivers – the S-class is equipped with an ignition disable device that will prevent the engine from starting if the correct original manufacturer key is not used as a means of anticipating and/or detecting unwanted vehicle intrusion, thereby assisting to prevent person-on-person injury within the confines of the vehicle.
Equipment availability depends on engine and configuration selected and some features are optional; however, now you know what questions to ask when considering an S-class ride.
Mercedes-Benz engineers produce amazingly consistent and impressive results in research into new safety technologies and the S-class’s performance in crash tests is legendary.
The first noteworthy safety milestone was reached back in the 1950’s with the development of the passenger safety cell, invented by Béla Barényi, which signaled Mercedes Benz’s prioritization of safety as a feature of its luxury range. This is now just one of an impressive and vast array of components of the Integral Safety Concept which edges Mercedes-Benz vehicles ever closer to its accident-free driving vision.