114-years of world-class automobile innovation

Since the earliest days of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz has set the benchmark for safety, comfort, intelligence and innovation, and the leading luxury automotive manufacturer’s new S-Class model is no exception. Beneath its sleek and stylish exterior lies the very latest automotive technology, to give the driver more autonomy than ever before – an ambitious vision that has become a revolutionary reality.

However, the new S-Class would not be possible without the evolution that preceded it. With the ‘Best Car in the World’ scheduled for arrival in the Middle East region in August 2017, we take a look at how Mercedes-Benz has driven the transformation of the modern car through world-first innovations.

The 1900s – from horses to horsepower with the world’s first modern car

Mercedes-Benz pioneered the world’s first automobile in 1904, giving the driver the first taste of automotive freedom through the power of a pedal and a wheel.

The spacious, luxurious touring car, once belonged to Emil Jellinek, the father of Mercedes Jellinek, after whom the brand was named. The launch of the 60 hp Mercedes-Simplex is an early example of the unique luxury class tradition of Mercedes-Benz.

Drivers and passengers who were once accustomed to the dusty saddle pads of a horse and cart, upgraded to hard-wearing leather and enjoyed the finest brocade fabric. Changing the mode of transport forever, the 60hp Mercedes-Simplex was a true revolutionary innovation of its time.

The 1920s – power and speed gave newfound freedoms

By 1928, Mercedes-Benz increased the power of its engines, giving drivers the freedom and power to travel at new speeds.

The Nürburg 460 (W 08) made its debut in 1928 as the first series production Mercedes-Benz to feature an eight-cylinder engine. Its model designation “Nürburg” was derived from the Nürburgring circuit, which had been opened just a year earlier. The name comes from a spectacular endurance test in which a 460-model covered some 20,000 kilometres over 13 days of driving at the Nürburgring.

Built at the Mannheim plant, the luxury class model was continually enhanced from the outset. In the autumn of 1929 it emerged with a lower frame and an even more elegantly designed body.

The 1930s – superior performance and advanced braking system

Mercedes-Benz continued to push the limits of automotive performance with an eight-cylinder super-charged engine that guaranteed effortlessly superior performance. An innovative braking system was developed to equal this newfound power. The 770-series “Grand Mercedes” was among the first automobiles to feature a “servo foot brake” for enhanced brake assistance. The combination of speed, power and enhanced control through the new brake system, gave the driver a new level of autonomy and proved just as popular with crowned and uncrowned heads of state as it did with representatives of industry and high finance.

The “Grand Mercedes” models, which continued the decades-old tradition of the Mercedes-Benz luxury motor car, were individually manufactured at the brand’s production facility in Sindelfingen, where specific customer requirements were comprehensively accommodated.

The 1940s – raising the standards of automobile comfort

Towards the end of the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz added advanced driving features to its cars, such as gears and suspension, which improved the driver’s comfort and control.

The modern luxury touring car, Mercedes-Benz 320 (W 142) introduced a swing-axle chassis with independent wheel suspension which provided for safe driving and a comfortable ride. The addition of remote-action gears reduced engine speed and fuel consumption, while enhancing travel comfort and efficiency.

At the same time, a so-called exterior case was also added to the standard scope of equipment for the most spacious variant of this luxury model – the seven-seater Pullman sedan.

The 1950s – the letter ‘S’ introduced a premium status and safety reassurance

In the 1950s, Mercedes-Benz raised its game through the launch of the first S-Class model. By 1956, with the 220 S, the letter “S” became a permanent fixture in the names of the Mercedes-Benz premium-class models, underlining a special, premium status. This marked the start of these classifications, which have remained in place to this day.

The 1950s also saw the first development of safety features which protected the driver and passengers in the event of a collision. This was through structured areas at the front and rear of the vehicle which absorb energy upon impact – this went into series production in the 220, 220 S and 220 SE models. Today, every modern passenger car is designed according to this principle.

Its impressive performance moved the trade press to speak of its “sports car credentials”, while its handling characteristics were deemed to match comfort with safety in equal proportions. The lush interior also contributed to the popularity of this luxury segment model.

The 1960s – “King of the Autobahn” introduced intelligence to the S-Class

High-performance was matched with intelligence. The S-Class now came with features such as air suspension, an automatic transmission, electronic power steering and a unique hydraulic system. These advanced systems paved the way to what we now consider the modern-day car. Electric power steering significantly eased maneuvering, offering a smoother and more enjoyable driving experience.

A particular highlight of Mercedes-Benz in the 1960s was the 300 SEL 6.3 presented in 1968, nicknamed “King of the Autobahn”. The new top-of-the-range model in the series featured the powerful V8 engine from the high-end Mercedes-Benz 600 saloon and provided proud owners not only with the ultimate in comfort and luxurious appointments, but also sports car-like performance. Capable of outperforming top-class sports cars, the model earned its stripes as the fastest and safest long distance sedan of the age.

The 1970s – introduction of ABS technology, a revolutionary safety system

In 1978, the S-Class became the world’s first series production vehicle to become available with the ABS anti-lock braking system, designed to help retain steering control even under full brake application. ABS test vehicles and large-scale testing over a total distance of some 35 million kilometres, provided evidence of the new system’s operational reliability before its introduction into series production. This work led to the world premiere of series-production ABS in the S-Class W 116 model series in 1978. At that time a worldwide sensation, ABS systems are now standard across the automotive industry.

The 1980s – increased protection with the airbag

Now a feature in every modern car, Mercedes-Benz was the first automobile manufacturer in the world to introduce the front passenger airbag in a series-production car. The advanced safety feature gave the driver further reassurance that their S-Class was the safest vehicle on the road.

The airbag was first pioneered in the S-Class model series 126 at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 1987. It elevated the safety standards in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars to a new level - reaffirming Mercedes-Benz’s position as a pioneer in passive vehicle safety. The driver’s airbag was initially combined with a pyrotechnic belt tensioner for the front passenger. From 1988, Mercedes-Benz also offered its customers a front passenger airbag.

The 1990s – control systems that introduced a new level of autonomy

Available from 1995 onwards, Mercedes-Benz reduced the risk of skidding through innovative targeted brake application on individual wheels. By the end of 1996, Brake Assist was introduced, a feature that automatically builds up the maximum brake boosting effect during emergency braking.

The S-Class (model series 220) presented in 1998 offered a further increase in safety and comfort, not least due to the new electronically controlled AIRMATIC air suspension, COMAND control and display system, and innovative DISTRONIC proximity controlled cruise control system.

The 2000s – the era of intelligence begins

Making its mark as the world’s most economical luxury sedan, the Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID launched in 2009 as the first luxury model with the efficiency-enhancing and environmentally friendly hybrid drive and also the first series production car with a lithium-ion battery. Mercedes-Benz premiered innovations in 2005 for Active Night View Assist, advanced DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control and Brake Assist Plus. Further assistance systems, such as Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Assist, helped to further reduce the strain on the driver and brought the S-Class one step closer to the vision of safe, accident-free driving.

2013 – vision accomplished

By 2013, Mercedes-Benz had achieved its vision for creating the best automobile in the world, with three pillars that extended the boundaries of intuitive technology – Intelligent Drive, Efficient Technology and Essence of Luxury.

The 2013 S Class model came equipped with a host of innovative safety systems, such as MAGIC BODY CONTROL – becoming the first car in the world with the ability to detect road bumps in advance and adjust the suspension accordingly. The S-Class also held the title of the most economical sedan in the luxury segment.

The dual 12.3-inch high-resolution screens displayed the full-range of driving systems, vehicle settings, entertainment, and navigation.

2017 – the best car in the world

The launch of the 2018 S-Class cements Mercedes-Benz’s position as the best car in the world. 114 years of pioneering evolution have created today’s Mercedes-Benz S-Class – unchallenged as the undisputed leader of intelligence, power, performance and luxury. The top-of-the-range model takes another big step towards autonomous driving and elevates Intelligent Drive to the next level. Its precise attention to detail is seen within every corner of the car, from the wood-leather steering wheel to the crystal-look tail lamps.

With the new model, Mercedes-Benz has embarked on an automotive revolution that will fundamentally reshape how we use and drive vehicles. Systems such as the DISTRONIC proximity control and Active Steering Assist now come with new, modified functionalities. ROAD SURFACE SCAN and the CURVE tilting function reduce the turning forces to provide a comfortable ride. The new autonomous driving capabilities are matched equally with comfort. ENERGIZING comfort control marks the arrival of a world first. It networks a variety of different comfort systems, individually adapting the likes of climate control, ambient lighting and massage or fragrance functions to the mood and needs of the vehicle’s occupants.



Raghad Tayeh
Media & Public Relations Senior Executive
Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East
Phone: +971 (0)4 806 5092
Email: [email protected]

Mutaz Albadri
Regional Account Director
Mojo PR
Phone: +971 (0)50 570 6785
Email: [email protected] 


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