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A retrospective - the world’s most forward looking car

As the first chauffeur company in the South West to take delivery of the new Mercedes S-Class we can confidently say that it lives up to its promise – this is by some measure the best car in the world.

It is, however, just the latest in a long line of variants that deserves this accolade. Each new S-Class managed to introduce innovative technologies never seen before in automotive engineering - many of the features we take for granted in today’s cars were originally introduced courtesy of the S-Class. As many of our clients are self-confessed petrol heads we’d like to take this opportunity to list some of the game changing moments in the history of the S-Class.

S-Class series 116 1972-1980

The very first S-Class, introduced in 1972. The first luxury class saloon with a diesel engine and the first series-production saloon with a turbo-diesel engine. Other innovations included Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) plus cruise control and hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension

S-Class series 126 1979-1991

Featuring a bodyshell structure with forked members, it was the world’s first series-production car to fulfil the criterion of the asymmetric head-on collision. Plus it included closed-loop catalytic converter, driver airbag and belt tensioner for front passenger and Acceleration Skid Control ASR.

S-Class series 140 1991-1998

Introduced power folding exterior mirrors, side bags for driver and front passenger, as well as Adaptive Damping System ADS. Also featured Electronic Stability Program ESP, BAS Brake Assist, PARKTRONIC electronic parking aid, APS Auto-Pilot-System navigation, LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system and Xenon headlamps with dynamic headlamp range adjustment.

S-Class series 220 1998-2005

Introduced the world to 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with electronic control, AIRMATIC air suspension with electronically controlled Adaptive Damping System and Active Body Control (ABC) suspension. Also featured automatic headlamp mode, eight airbags including window bags and side bags in the rear, ventilated seats, multi-zone automatic climate control, DISOTRONIC proximity control, KEYLESS GO access and drive authorisation system and PRE-SAFE preventive occupant protection system and automatic child seat recognition.

S-Class series 221 2005-2013

The first car with an Environmental Certificate, Active Body Control (ABC) suspension with crosswind stabilisation, ADAPTIVE BRAKE braking system and adaptive brake lights. Also featured PRE-SAFE brake with autonomous partial braking and autonomous emergency braking, Parking Assist, Active Night View Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Speed Limit Assist and Adaptive High Beam Assist. It was also the first luxury-class car with hybrid drive and a lithium-ion battery.

And today - the new S-Class

The latest iteration of the S-Class continues the pioneering tradition by notching up a host of fresh firsts.

  • Revolutionary autonomous driving features. Self-guided cars still the stuff of science fiction but the new S-Class is getting close. Its anticipatory safety system will detect pedestrians and initiate autonomous braking at speeds up to 31 mph, but it also has a thermal-imaging camera that can detect pedestrians and animals from long distances in the dark. It will automatically flash the headlights at humans to alert them, but not at animals (engineers say the reaction of animals to light is unpredictable). It also offers a self-driving feature that allows it to creep through stop-and-go traffic and even follow other cars through detours without driver assistance. At highway speeds, driver-assist systems will keep the car in its lane and even follow gradual curves without hands on the wheel – for about 10 seconds.
  • First car without conventional light bulbs. Light-emitting diodes are used for all exterior and interior lighting: up to 56 in headlamps, up to 35 in tail lights and about 300 in the cabin. LEDs save energy and offer more design flexibility and colour options. The S-Class interior can be illuminated in as many as seven different colours, providing dramatically different effects.
  • First anticipatory suspension. Boldly titled “Magic Body Control,” the S-Class offers a suspension option that uses stereo cameras to detect irregularities in the road ahead. The cameras send data to the car’s adaptive suspension system, which in turn reacts within fractions of a second to anticipate and adjust for upcoming bumps.
  • First perfuming system. The industry’s first built-in perfuming feature that uses the climate-control system to disperse four different fragrances to suit your mood.
  • First hot-stone massage. An in-seat massage system uses 14 separately actuated air cushions to knead sore back muscles more vigorously than current mechanical systems. Plus, air bladders in the middle of the seat are equipped with heating elements that can deliver a sensation that mimics hot stones being placed on your back.

The future is now – experience it for yourself

We just love driving the new S-Class – especially when we get the chance to show off the innovative technology to those who have never experienced anything quite like it before. The car is sensational, in the broadest sense of the word. You have to travel in it to fully appreciate it.

Fantastic service - took all the stress out of travel to the airport for my honeymoon.

Jon Beecroft

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