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Mercedes introduced the new S-Class at the Airbus A380 delivery center in Hamburg (Photo: Daimler)

Daimler introduced the new Mercedes S-Class to the world this week, unveiling a model it hopes will be the benchmark for tomorrow's premium driving experience.

The German luxury car maker's top-of-the-line model traditionally features cutting-edge technologies that will make their way into other Mercedes models later on. The 2013 S-Class is no exception.

From the start, the car will be available with a hybrid powertrain, underlining Daimler's efforts to make even its biggest models as fuel-efficient as possible. In the area of driver assistance, the S-Class has so many new technologies it is technically capable of driving itself. A new HMI consists of two monitors that control a range of functions. And on the outside - as well as the inside - Daimler says it has built the first car that relies completely on LEDs for its lighting.

Like other premium carmakers, Daimler is keen to demonstrate that high-end models can also be fuel-efficient. R&d boss Thomas Weber said in a press statement that the carmaker will continue to strive for "Green Leadership" and will soon introduce a plugin hybrid version of the S-Class. It will be "the first S-class with a fuel consumption lower than 4 liters per 100 km," Weber said.

The S-Class, which will go on sale this autumn, has a wide range of safety and driver assistance systems. They include:

  • Pre-safe brake, which can detect pedestrians and slow down the car automatically 
  • Pre-safe plus, which can recognize imminent rear-end collisions
  • Pre-safe impulse, which instructs seat belts to pull driver and front-seat passenger away from the direction of impact
  • Distronic plus, which provides automatic lane guidance and lets the car automatically follow another vehicle in a traffic jam
  • A new braking assist function that can detect crossing traffic and pedestrians
  • Adaptive highbeam assist plus, which adjusts high beams to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic
  • An improved night view function that uses a thermal imaging camera
The new safety functions employ a sensor system that consists of a stereo camera coupled with multi-stage radar sensors. Said Weber: "The new S-Class doesn't just have eyes at the front, it has 360-degree all-round vision."

The two high-resolution 12.3 inch TFT color displays available to the driver provide access to all information. The left-hand display performs the functions of the traditional instrument cluster. The other display, which is part of an entirely new Comand HMI, controls infotainment and comfort functions.

The S-Class has a touch-sensitive telephone keypad and a rotary pushbutton with direct access keys in the center console for key functions.

In Germany, S-Class prices start at 79,789.50 euros.

-By Arjen Bongard