Intelligent Drive Under the microscope: history – Setting the pace for safety technology


The luxury-class models from Mercedes-Benz are always at the vanguard of the very latest automotive technology. Time and time again, they showcase brand new features which then come into widespread use.

Mercedes-Benz Technology and Safety

Here’s an overview of the safety innovations premiered by the individual S-Class model series: Models 220 b/220 Sb/220 SEb/300 SE/300 SE long wheelbase, W 111/W 112 (1959 to 1965)

  • Safety passenger compartment with crumple zones (front and rear)
  • Padded steering wheeland “injury-proofed” interior
  • Wedge-pin door lockswith two safety detents
  • Disc brakes (300 SE, from 1961)
  • Dual-circuit braking system (from 1963)

Models 250 S to 300 SEL 6.3, W 108/W 109 (1965 to 1972)

  • Safety steering system (from 1967)
  • Hydropneumatic equalising springs at the rear axle

S-Class 116 series (1972 to 1980)

  • Integral safety concept – four-spoke safety steering wheel – fuel tank installed above the rear axle for collision protection – safety door handles – large headlamp units and indicators – tail lights with low dirt build-up – side windows with low dirt build-up
  • Anti-lock braking system ABS as optional extra (from 1978)

S-Class 126 series (1979 to 1991)

  • Bodyshell with fork-arm structure, the world’s first series-production car to fulfil the criterion of the asymmetric head-on collision (offset crash)
  • Driver’s airbag and belt tensioner for front passenger as optional extra (from 1981)
  • Front passenger airbag (from 1988)

S-Class 140 series (1991 to 1998)

  • Speed-sensitive power steering
  • Seat belts with automatic height adjustment
  • Sidebags for driver and front passenger (from 1996)
  • Electronic Stability Program ESP® as standard (S 600, from 1995) or optional extra (S 420, S 500, from 1995)
  • Brake Assist BAS (from 1996)

S-Class 220 series (1998 to 2005)

  • Aluminium crash boxes in the front and rear-end structure
  • AIRMATIC air suspension with electronically controlled Adaptive Damping System
  • Active Body Control as optional extra (standard on S 600)
  • Additional indicator lamps integrated into the exterior mirrors
  • Windowbags, sidebags in the rear
  • Front passenger airbag with two-stage gas generator
  • Belt tensioners and belt force limiters in the rear
  • Laminated glass for side windows
  • DISTRONIC proximity control as optional extra PRE‑SAFE®
  • PRE‑SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system (from 2002)

S-Class 221 series (2005 onwards)

  • Active Body Control with crosswind stabilisation as optional extra(standard on S 600)
  • Adaptive brake lights
  • Brake Assist PLUS as optional extra
  • Improved DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control (with braking to a stop) as optional extra
  • PRE-SAFE® Brake with autonomous partial braking (from 2006) or autonomous full brake application (from 2009) as optional extra
  • Active Night View Assist as optional extra (from 2009 as Night View Assist PLUS with pedestrian detection)
  • Blind Spot Assist as optional extra (from 2007, from 2010 as Active Blind Spot Assist )
  • Lane Keeping Assist as optional extra (from 2009, from 2010 as Active Lane Keeping Assist)
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist as optional extra (from 2009)
  • ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system (from 2009)
  • Under the microscope: history – Setting the pace for safety technology