Updated S-Class gets semi-autonomous and other electric upgrades
The updated Mercedes-Benz S-Class shown at Auto Shanghai 2017 and due in Europe in July gets a new and highly efficient engine range with a series of new technologies for powertrain electrification and semi-autonomy. The intent is to keep the brand’s flagship at the top of the luxury-sedan heap in terms of technology and sales. Since 2013, the company sold well over 300,000 of them.
"The development of the new S-Class was extremely extensive. With a whole series of new features and functions the S-Class remains the technological pioneer,” said Ola Källenius, responsible on the Board of Daimler AG for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The next generation in advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) technology elevates the car’s semi-autonomous Intelligent Drive to the next level with the help of Autoliv, which supplies 77-GHz radars, stereo- and mono vision cameras, and the central ADAS ECU. Depending on the configuration of the vehicle, Autoliv supplies either a mono or stereo vision camera.
The new S-Class also marks the first time that Autoliv will supply road-surface detection functionality through its advanced stereo vision camera solution, which use Autoliv's in-house developed software algorithms. Additionally, they can detect and classify objects like pedestrians, cars and trucks, lights from oncoming traffic, lane markings, traffic signs, and road edges.
Some of the greatest improvements in S-Class semi-autonomous performance are attributed to two systems: Distronic Active Proximity Assist and Active Lane Change Assist. The former uses substantially more map and navigation data, can support the driver based on the route, and conveniently adjusts the vehicle speed. The latter is said to have been noticeably improved across its entire performance range.
With Active Lane Change Assist, tapping the indicator stalk is now the only action necessary to initiate a lane change. The change is executed within 10 s, is indicated in the instrument cluster, and if the vehicle sensor system does not detect vehicles in the relevant safety zone.
Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle to a stop when Active Steer Assist is engaged and the system recognizes that the driver is not intervening in the driving process on a sustained basis.
In stop-and-go traffic on motorways and similar roads, stops of up to 30 s are now possible and the S-Class can start moving again automatically and follow the traffic ahead (in conjunction Active Parking Assist).
Posted speed limits and no-overtaking signs are displayed for the road the vehicle is on via a combination of image recognition and digital road map navigation system information. A visual/visual-audible warning signal is issued any time the speed limit is exceeded. The system also warns of pedestrians near crossings.
Depending on road-traffic regulations, Remote Parking Assist allows the driver to maneuver the S-Class into tight parking spaces or garages by smartphone. This applies to parallel and end-on parking spaces in both forward and reverse directions, and can assist if the driver returns to their vehicle to find it blocked in.
The new M256 in-line six-cylinder gasoline engine exemplifies the current Daimler thinking on mild to moderate electrification, incorporating a 48-volt onboard power supply. New forced induction with an electrically boosted compressor, as well as an Integrated Starter Alternator, provide improved power delivery with reduced turbo lag. The Integrated Starter Alternator is responsible for hybrid functions, including the electric boosting and for highly efficient energy recovery, while allowing fuel savings more in keeping with higher-voltage hybrid applications.
Systematic electrification dispenses with the need for an ancillary component belt drive at the front of the engine, which reduces its overall length. The shorter design, along with the physical separation of intake and exhaust, create space for nearer engine exhaust aftertreatment. The 48-volt onboard power supply serves not only high power consumers such as the water pump and air-conditioning compressor, but also the Integrated Starter Alternator.
The plug-in hybrid powertrain is upgraded by significantly increased battery capacity of 13.3 kW·h, enabling all-electric driving range to increase to about 50 km (31 mi). In conjunction with the new Wallbox home charger, the onboard 7.2-kW charger allows for much faster battery charging.
Other electronics highlights
The Intelligent Light System is now optionally available with multibeam LED headlamps and Ultra Range main beams that produce the maximum light intensity permitted by law, with brightness of the main beams remaining above 1 lux at more than 650 m (2130 ft) ahead. Drivers can activate main beams permanently without dazzling drivers of vehicles in front as main-beam modules are partially switched off to mask a u-shaped area of the light beam.
The car’s suspension control—road surface scan detecting bumps ahead of the vehicle and adjusting the active body control accordingly—is improved, with the system’s stereo camera now scanning the road more thoroughly, even in dusk, and at speeds up to 180 km/h (112 mph). A curve-tilting function, a first for the S-Class sedan, can lift the outside body in a turn by up to 2.65 degrees to maintain flatter cornering.
The interior of the new S-Class has two new high-resolution 12.3-in displays under one shared glass cover. The driver can choose from three different display styles (Classic, Sporty, and Progressive) and can configure information still further. Touch-sensitive controls in the steering wheel respond to swiping motions like the screen of a smartphone and enable the driver to control the entire infotainment system without having to take his/her hands off the steering wheel.
Driver-assistance functions can now be controlled from the steering wheel. The instrument panel and headup displays show the functions selected and to what situations the systems are responding.
Energizing comfort control is a world-first optional feature linking functions of vehicle comfort systems like the climate control system (including fragrancing), seats (heater, ventilation, massage), lighting, and music to be tailored to the occupants’ mood. The six programs, called Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort, and Training (muscle relaxation, muscle activation, and balance—each with several exercises), all run for 10 min.