“For what really counts”: Heads of state and business leaders can take this S-Class slogan literally when they entrust their lives to the new special-protection version of the luxury model. Because the new S680 GUARD 4MATIC (combined fuel consumption (WLTP): 19.5 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions (WLTP): 442 g/km) meets the highest ballistic test level for civilian vehicles and, moreover, is particularly resistant to explosive charges. The certification by the Beschussamt Ulm (ballistic testing authority) was carried out for the first time using so-called biofidelic dummies. These test dummies imitate the human body particularly realistically with bone- and soft tissue-like structures. The S680 GUARD 4MATIC is the first GUARD saloon from Mercedes-Benz with all-wheel drive and is powered by the familiar V12 (M279) with 450 kW/612 hp. The base price is €457,100 plus value added tax. The S680 GUARD 4MATIC celebrated its world première at the 2021 IAA in Munich.
“The S680 GUARD 4MATIC is one of the most customer-oriented products from Mercedes-Benz. That is because this special-protection model focuses on people and their safety,” says Dirk Fetzer, Head of Product Management S-Class. “No other series-produced saloon offers the highest protection class for civilian vehicles quite as comprehensively. And at the same time, quality and durability are on par with the series standard, thanks to extensive development and testing activities. The new special-protection version ‘protects what matters'”.
Mercedes-Benz has been building special-protection vehicles since 1928 and thus for over 90 years. Customers of the new S680 GUARD 4MATIC benefit from these many years of experience. The integrated protection system (iSS) reaches a new level: whereas the necessary protective materials were previously integrated into the standard body shell structure for the GUARD saloons, a GUARD-specific body shell of protective elements has now been developed. This self-supporting protective cell represents the core of the iSS. Ultimately, the (aluminium) outer skin serves as a design cover and ensures an inconspicuous appearance. In addition to the armouring, the iSS includes the adaptation of the suspension, engine and transmission to ensure handling that is virtually on a par with that of the production vehicle. Due to a parallel development process alongside the large-scale production models, the longevity of the GUARD vehicles also reaches series production level.
In addition to the unseen armouring elements, the transparent area of the windows is an integral and essential part of the protection concept. The material and thickness of the multi-layer glass ‘sandwich’ meet the high requirements of the VR10 safety classification. 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 – another significant advantage of the integrated protection system.
The interior space also benefits from the elaborate iSS concept, as the comfort dimensions largely correspond to those of the long S-Class. As with the production model, it was possible to keep the panel gaps in the body shell to a minimum, so fulfilling the “seamless” claim of the Sensual Purity design philosophy. And when it comes to comfort and appointments, the four- and five-seater versions can both hold their own with their sister models: More than 80 customisation options are available for the S-Class, from active ambient lighting and a media display featuring OLED technology to a First-Class rear suite and rear airbag. There are almost no restrictions on trim and colour combinations. However, optional extras that contradict the protective purpose, such as a sliding sunroof, are not available.
Certified: highest civilian protection class in terms of ballistics and first use of biofidelic dummies in blast tests
The new Mercedes-Benz S680 GUARD 4MATIC is certified according to directives of the VPAM (Association of test centres for attack-resistant materials and structures). Members of the VPAM are company-independent (neutral) test centres and institutions.
The testing was carried out by the Beschussamt Ulm, the only testing and certification body for weapons, ammunition and safety technology in the German state of Baden-Württemberg and one of the most state-of-the-art institutes of its kind. The new S-Class GUARD meets the requirements of the highest civilian protection class VR10 according to the standard VPAM BRV version three (Bullet Resistant Vehicles). In this test, the body and windows must withstand fire from an assault rifle using armour-piercing ammunition. The S680 GUARD 4MATIC also meets the requirements of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).
Protection against blast attacks is documented by compliance with the latest version of the VPAM ERV(Explosive Resistant Vehicles) standard, the test criteria for which are not freely available. The S680 GUARD 4MATIC was not only the very first vehicle to complete the current tests, it also achieved the top scores in all three tests (roof, floor and side) with three out of three stars. Test result: “no injuries” to dummies and indicators according to assessment scheme VPAM ERV.
For the first time, the VPAM ERV certification in this case included tests with so-called biofidelic dummies. Consideration was given to the injuries to the dummies on all seats, which differ in design (depending on the test case). The Primus model used was developed by CTS Company together with the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin) and the Dresden University of Applied Sciences (HTW Dresden), incorporating findings from the Berlin Charité teaching hospital. Primus is particularly well suited for this special use: bone density and structure are modelled on the human skeleton in every detail. Epoxy resin aluminium powder is used as a bone substitute, and webbing made of propylene is used as ligaments and tendons. The tissue and internal organs of this biofidelic dummy are made of silicone and acrylic. Thanks to the human-like structure, injuries are easily recognisable from the outside. The evaluation was based on the most severely affected dummy or seat.
Other technical refinements: new door actuators and hydraulically operated window lifters
The highest level of protection combined with the best possible comfort for passengers and staff, that is the GUARD philosophy. This can be illustrated with two examples. The S680 GUARD 4MATIC, for example, features newly developed door actuators. Although the doors are very heavy due to their armouring, this electro-mechanical system means that only low operating forces are required for opening and closing. This applies not only on level ground, but also when the vehicle is on a slope. The stepless door arrest also proves its worth in this situation. The door’s sensor technology detects when and how it is to be moved or stopped. Algorithms from human-supporting robotics (cobots) are used. The system facilitates the work of the bodyguards in particular, and at the same time they can keep one hand free.
There is also a lot of intelligence in the hydraulically (instead of electrically) operated window lifters. Even if the on-board power supply fails, emergency operation is possible, i.e. closing in the event of an attempted attack. In each door there is a corresponding unit consisting of a compressor and valve block together with a pressure accumulator.
Other special equipment designed specifically for the S680 GUARD 4MATIC 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 special GUARD options include an extensive range of equipment for authorities, such as a siren, flashing lights and radios, as well as a panic alarm system.
The Michelin PAX run-flat tyres are a standard feature. Even with defective tyres, it is possible to move out of the danger zone up to a distance of 30 kilometres.
Powertrain: first GUARD saloon with 4MATIC
The V12 biturbo power unit has been extensively revised for its use in the new S-Class generation. The exhaust gas turbochargers, exhaust manifold and air ducting were all adapted. Also new is a closed-loop petrol particulate filter. The V12 has an output of 450 kW/612 hp and a displacement of 5980 cc. The maximum torque is 830 Nm from 2000 rpm. The most important features of the engine include an all-aluminium crankcase, a one-piece chain drive, a forged crankshaft made of high-quality quenched and tempered steel, forged pistons and a multi-spark ignition system with twelve twin-power ignition coils.
Features of the all-wheel-drive system, combined here for the first time with the twelve-cylinder engine, include a low system weight, optimal traction and driving safety, and the highest levels of ride comfort and driving dynamics. The standard torque distribution for this model is 31 percent to the front axle and 69 percent to the rear axle. Among other things, the all-wheel drive was adapted to the higher vehicle weight of the GUARD version with stronger side shafts.
Experience: Mercedes-Benz has been building special-protection vehicles for over 90 years
It started way back with the 1928 Nürburg 460 model, when Daimler-Benz became the first company to begin factory-fitting saloons with special protective features to shield the occupants from gunshots and explosives. Mercedes-Benz also developed special-protection variants of the subsequent luxury-class and state vehicles such as the “Grand Mercedes” 770 and the 500 model. The Japanese Emperor Hirohito personally chose an armoured “Grand Mercedes” as a befitting vehicle for his own use. This vehicle was delivered in 1935.
Many politicians and heads of state followed the emperor’s example and entrusted their safety and security to Mercedes-Benz special-protection vehicles. From 1965 onwards, the company offered numerous models with special protection. In addition to the legendary Mercedes-Benz 600 as a Saloon and Pullman Saloon, these included V8 models of the S-Class in the 1970s and 1980s, such as the 280 SEL 3.5, the 350 SE/SEL and 450 SE/SEL as well as the 380 SE/SEL to 560 SEL.
In 2016, the company presented the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 Guard, the first model to offer the highest level of protection for civilian vehicles with resistance class VR10.
Interesting facts & figures
The Primus biofidelic dummy from CTS has 42 bones – this number corresponds to about one fifth of the human skeleton. In addition, there are twelve soft-tissue components and internal organs.
All in all, the luggage compartment holds about 390 litres, as the (optional) refrigerator is located in the centre armrest in the rear. Behind it is an armoured firewall.
The S-Class GUARD can still drive a distance of up to 30 kilometres after a puncture thanks to Michelin PAX run-flat tyres.
The S680 GUARD 4MATIC is available in four- and five-seater versions. The basic price is €457,100 plus value added tax.
Mercedes-Benz has been building special-protection vehicles for 93 years. The first model was the Nürburg 460.
For weight reasons, the top speed is electronically limited to 190 km/h.
After the Mercedes-Benz S-Class with short and long wheelbase and the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the GUARD is already the fourth body variant of the new generation.