The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class limousine has been given the armoured-car treatment, and this latest version is powered by a mammoth V12 paired to an all-wheel-drive system for the first time.
Although Mercedes does not list the vehicle’s weight, it is understood to tip the scales at close to 3000kg – about 50 per cent heavier than a Toyota LandCruiser – thanks to all the armoured bodywork and thick bulletproof glass.
The Mercedes-Benz S Class armoured car has its own on-board oxygen system in case of a chemical attack, thick bullet proof tyres that be driven for 30km even when punctured, and the vehicle can be optioned with discreet police lights to get through traffic when used by government dignitaries.
The official fuel consumption figure shows it’s a thirsty beast, with a claimed economy rating of 19.5L/100km – about 60 per cent more than a V12 AMG Mercedes – due to the extra kilos.
In a media statement, Mercedes said its new armoured “Guard” model – based on the new-generation S Class – “meets the highest ballistic test level for civilian vehicles and … is particularly resistant to explosive charges.”
Mercedes-Benz has been building armoured cars for 93 years – since 1928.
It says the latest model hides much of its ballistic ability behind the standard aluminium bodywork, so at a glance it looks like a regular Mercedes S Class.
However the thick side glass and fatter tyres are giveaways to eagle-eyed observers.
Mercedes reckons it is getting better at disguising the super-thick side glass with the use of new materials that limit distortion.
“The material and thickness of the multi-layer glass ‘sandwich’ meet the high requirements of the VR10 safety classification,” says Mercedes.
“The inner surfaces of the glass are coated with polycarbonate for splinter protection. Despite their comprehensive protective effect, they offer excellent visibility. And they have been integrated in such a way that they are not noticeable at first glance.”
The windows are so heavy they use hydraulics rather than electronics to be raised or lowered.
Mercedes says although the doors are very heavy because of the added armour inside them, an electro-mechanical system has been developed to make each door easier to open and close, even when the car is parked on an incline.
“Other special equipment designed specifically for the S 680 GUARD 4MATIC,” a model exclusive to governments and not available for the public to buy, says Mercedes, “includes a fire extinguishing system with automatic triggering function and an emergency fresh air system that protects occupants from penetrating smoke or irritant gases, and supplies them with fresh air.”
Other options include a siren, flashing lights and radios, as well as a panic alarm system.
The V12 engine (450kW/830Nm) is paired to an all-wheel-drive system, designed to get the armoured Benz out of slippery situations.
The price of the latest armoured car from Benz – without options – is €457,100 plus taxes. With local taxes, the armoured Mercedes would likely have a starting price of close to $1 million in Australia.
However, we may not ever see the vehicle here. The Australian federal government currently has a contract with BMW to supply protection vehicles to our politicians and visiting dignitaries.