At Mercedes-Benz, maximum comfort means much more than a cosy, welcoming interior with high-class features. Rather, all of our comfort solutions are intended to improve the driver's performance. A multitude of carefully orchestrated individual measures serve to consistently relieve the strain on drivers when at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz. This allows them to devote their full attention to the situation on the road ahead in the most composed manner possible.
Handling properties, ergonomics, climate control, acoustic comfort, ease of operation, and many other factors besides all affect the driver's fitness behind the wheel, and thus their ability to concentrate on what's happening on the road. As a general rule, only a relaxed driver is a safe driver too. Mercedes-Benz has been investigating this complex topic, termed "driver-fitness safety", for many years now, and consistently applying its findings to improve its series-production vehicles. As a result, it has been proven that Mercedes drivers stay fit and alert for longer.
Prime examples of the progress achieved in this field are the carefully structured, intuitive control and display concepts and the intelligent driver assistance systems, which turn the motor car into a partner of the person behind the wheel that can think for itself. The flawless interaction of all individual measures is crucial to meeting the goal of relieving the motorist of irritating routine tasks and ensuring their performance abilities are affected as little as possible. Intelligent interior and luggage compartment concepts together with innovative infotainment solutions likewise play an important role in the Mercedes-Benz philosophy of performance-enhancing comfort. The final factor is a broad spectrum of customisation options, allowing every Mercedes customer to further refine their vehicle's levels of functionality and comfort to meet their personal requirements.
Smooth-running engines and harmoniously tuned transmissions, perfect roll characteristics, efficient climate control, low noise levels, a stylish interior featuring top-class materials and well-selected colours – this all adds up to make a Mercedes-Benz a pleasant retreat, a sort of mobile haven of wellness which imparts a sense of security and expresses individuality.
Optimum driver-fitness safety as a development target
Optimum driver-fitness safety is an essential factor in the Mercedes-Benz philosophy of performance-enhancing comfort, and is one of the high-priority targets for development. The experts from Mercedes-Benz have based their work in this area on scientific investigations including medical trials. The pulse rate, for instance, is one of the most important indicators of driver well-being and strain, as well as their concentration and performance levels. One of the key findings: the faster the heart is beating, the more strained the driver is and the greater the likelihood of making an error in critical situations.
The performance-enhancing comfort that Mercedes-Benz is renowned for results from the interaction between numerous perfectly coordinated individual measures: so, not only is the interior roomy enough for passengers of any stature, the seats can be adjusted to an optimum position too. Good suspension and engine encapsulation are designed to isolate the passenger compartment from physical and acoustic vibrations. The positive effect of easily accessible switches and controls can be further enhanced by the addition of a voice control system, which goes under the name of LINGUATRONIC at Mercedes-Benz.
Intelligent assistance systems to partner the driver
Driver-fitness safety receives a further boost from aids such as the rain sensor, automatic headlamp activation – part of the Intelligent Light System at
Mercedes-Benz – or the DISTRONIC PLUS system, which automatically maintains the correct distance from the vehicle ahead and can brake the car to a stop if necessary. These and other intelligent systems relieve drivers of numerous routine tasks, which they would otherwise have to focus their attention on causing them to tire sooner.
Keeping the proverbial "cool head" when driving is equally as important from a medical point of view. This is greatly helped by efficient interior climate control, which is perfectly tuned to the occupants' requirements in a Mercedes-Benz. The air conditioning system has a direct influence over well-being, fitness and concentration, as it allows drivers to literally keep their cool, even at extremely high outside temperatures. When the air conditioning is switch off, on the other hand, a clear deterioration in overall driver fitness can be detected after just a few miles of driving, as has been verified by independent medical experts: the body temperature rises and the powers of comprehension worsen. This leads to premature driver fatigue, faltering concentration and reduced powers of reaction. Measurements of spinal column movement are a further indication of the strain placed on the driver. A poorly upholstered or poorly adjusted seat has been shown to tire the driver faster in the same way as a high interior temperature.
Only a relaxed driver is a safe driver
With a view to optimising driver-fitness safety, Mercedes-Benz works on all of the different aspects that have a sustained effect on the driver's sense of well-being – and, as a consequence, on safety. This is because only a driver who is relaxed and not under any strain has the necessary physical and mental reserves to react appropriately when danger threatens. And besides: who wouldn't prefer to get out of their car at the end of a long journey feeling perfectly relaxed and ready to start enjoying their holiday, for instance, or fresh enough to work to the very best of their ability as soon as they reach the destination of their business trip?
Trademark Mercedes-Benz: exemplary long-distance comfort
Wide track, long wheelbase and chassis systems that are tailored to each vehicle concept – for over a century now, this has been the recipe used by Mercedes-Benz to achieve the long-distance driving comfort the brand is renowned for. Mercedes-Benz sets an important milestone in chassis technology as early as 1931 with the 170 model: it is the first large-scale production passenger car to feature independent suspension for all four wheels ("swing axles"). This construction produces a completely new driving sensation, which filters out bumps in the road surface far more effectively and increases ride comfort.
Just two years later, the new chassis fitted in the 380 model proves to be an ingenious solution. First introduced in 1933, this construction with its double-wishbone front suspension and coil springs is quickly adopted by large parts of the US motor industry. It is not long before it develops into a standard automotive engineering concept that is still in use worldwide today. At the rear, there is a swing axle with two coil springs and two equalising springs to ensure passengers enjoy a comfortable ride.
Mercedes-Benz sets the pace time and time again with its trailblazing designs: the single-joint swing axle is brought out in 1954 followed by the diagonal swing axle in 1968. Both constructions succeed in improving handling safety at the same time as further increasing ride comfort. In 1973, the "coupled-link axle" comes into use for the first time – this is an improved version of the diagonal swing axle, which prevents the rear of the vehicle from squatting when pulling away and accelerating.
1961: air suspension revolutionises ride comfort
It is 1961 when the first ever air suspension system redefines standards of comfort in the 300 SE luxury saloon: the innovative suspension technology is unprecedented in the way it effortlessly smoothes out bumps in the road. The sophisticated system is subsequently used in top-of-the-range models, such as the prestigious 600.
The multi-link independent rear suspension in the new compact class that comes out in late 1982 is a technical sensation. The individually suspended rear wheels each have five independently arranged links for optimum control of their movement. The multi-link independent rear suspension is later introduced into all Mercedes-Benz saloons, coupés, cabriolets and sports cars with rear-wheel drive, while many other manufacturers model their own concepts on it.
In 1998, yet another technological milestone makes its debut in the S-Class: the classic suspension and damping system with coil springs and gas-filled struts gives way to the newly developed, electronically regulated AIRMATIC (Adaptive Intelligent Ride control) system featuring air suspension and the Adaptive Damping System ADS. The self-levelling control which works for each wheel individually also forms part of AIRMATIC. It adapts to the condition of the road surface, driving style and vehicle load, guaranteeing supreme driving pleasure – regardless of external factors.
This solution's outstanding blend of agility, fun at the wheel and comfort is further refined in 1999 with the debut of the world's first actively controlled suspension system in the CL-Coupés: cue Active Body Control (ABC). This groundbreaking system uses hydraulically controlled adjusting cylinders in the suspension struts which work together with the passive shock absorbers and coil springs. The actively controllable components reduce body vibrations, which materialise as lifting or swaying movements caused by pronounced body roll in corners, for example, or pitching when braking.
2007: C-Class takes motoring refinement into a new dimension
In 2007, the C-Class takes standards of refinement for its segment into a whole new dimension with the innovative Dynamic Handling package that offers a choice of two driving modes – Sport and Comfort. Within these two modes, continuously variable electronic control of the shock absorber for each wheel takes place. The package furthermore includes steering with a more direct ratio as well as adaptation of the accelerator characteristics and automatic transmission shift points.
PRE-SCAN chassis: advance report on the condition of the road ahead
In that same year, Mercedes-Benz gives a glimpse of how supreme motoring
refinement is set to evolve in the future with its F 700 research vehicle. Thanks to its cutting-edge PRE-SCAN chassis, the F 700 is capable of scanning the condition of the road ahead, allowing it to react to bumps extremely sensitively and smooth them out even more effectively.
Two laser sensors located in the front headlamp units act as the PRE-SCAN chassis' "eyes". They provide a precise image of the state of the road surface. Based on the image from the laser sensors and the information on the road's condition, the control unit computes the appropriate strategy, which the high-pressure hydraulics then turn into exactly calculated oil flows and pressures for each individual wheel. By so doing, PRE-SCAN produces a level of ride comfort without precedent. Travelling in the 5.17 metre luxury saloon of tomorrow is like riding on a flying carpet. This new and immensely comfortable form of motoring is perfectly complemented by a highly innovative and spacious interior concept.
Drive comfort: the basis for refined sportiness
Pairing high-torque, smooth-running engines with perfectly matched transmissions is the proven formula for optimum drive comfort at Mercedes-Benz. It is this mix of refined sportiness and effortless power reserves which gives the driver of a Mercedes-Benz a feeling of complete composure. Gliding along in traffic is therefore every bit as pleasurable as a powerful burst of speed when executing a swift overtaking manoeuvre.
This is something that has held true from the early days of the motor car, when the only substitute for high engine displacement was even more displacement, right through to the present. These days, however, state-of-the-art engine technology enables comfort and effortlessly superior performance to be combined with maximum efficiency. The BlueDIRECT engines introduced in the CL-Class and S-Class in 2010 are prime examples of this. Compared to their immediate predecessors, they boast a considerably higher output and even more torque.
This makes them more capable than ever of effortless power delivery and maximum driving comfort, yet they burn up to 24 percent less fuel. This is all down to the use of intelligent downsizing concepts, meaning smaller engines which employ turbocharging and third-generation direct petrol injection to achieve record levels of fuel efficiency together with outstandingly smooth running.
Powerful, economical, clean: diesel engines from Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz's introduction of the CDI power unit in 1997 is a similarly important milestone in the history of passenger car diesel engines. The fusion of the newly developed high-pressure direction injection technology based on the common-rail principle – known as CDI for short – with four-valve technology produces a 30 percent higher output and 100 percent more torque. For the first time, this endows diesel-powered passenger cars with the sort of power build-up needed for high levels of dynamism and fun at the wheel – all combined with lower fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
The combustion noise is noticeably softer too, resulting in an unprecedented degree of refinement for diesel engines. The revolutionary injection method becomes the new standard for the entire automotive industry. The CDI technology also gives the diesel engine the necessary credentials to tap into brand new markets and highly discerning target groups in the luxury class. When it is brought out in the year 2000, the S 400 CDI with its 184 kW (250 hp) V8 engine developing a torque of 560 Newton metres is the most powerful diesel-engined passenger car in the world.
The transmissions are also a major contributory factor to drive comfort. The trademark Mercedes-Benz synthesis of majestic power delivery, tremendous smoothness, low levels of driving noise and high drive comfort adds up to produce a relaxed brand of driving pleasure. Mercedes-Benz has achieved some major milestones along the way, particularly in the field of automatic transmissions with their highly complex constructions.
Their forerunner is the semiautomatic overdrive vacuum shift first introduced back in 1930 on the 770 model known as the "Großer Mercedes" (Large Mercedes).
From 1972: torque-converter automatics for supreme shift comfort
In the mid-1950s, the Mercedes-Benz 300 c is already being offered with the option of an American-built three-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. The Mercedes-Benz automatic clutch control that is initially made available from 1961 in the luxury-class saloons, coupés and cabriolets is a brand new development that points the way ahead for the entire industry. From 1972, the company switches to torque-converter automatic transmissions, which perform gearshifts with a hitherto unknown smoothness and eventually find their way into all model series. The combination of electronic control and torque converter lock-up clutch, which makes its debut in 1995 in the V12 and V8 models, represents another important step forwards.
Not only does the new 5-speed automatic enhance driving comfort yet again, its integration into the vehicle's digital data network allows fuel consumption to be reduced too and serves to optimise operation of the ESP®driving safety system. When cornering or on uphill/downhill stretches, the electronics modify the shift points to prevent sudden gearshifts that could have a negative impact on handling characteristics and comfort. In addition to the five forward gears, there are two reverse gears too, including one with a longer ratio for pulling away surely on ice and snow when reversing too.
The first generation of the A-Class premiered in 1997 is optionally available with a front-wheel drive automatic transmission, specially developed to make allowance for the specific space situation in this model. The subsequent A-Class generation, launched in 2004, features a continuously variable automatic transmission for the first time called AUTOTRONIC.
2003: world's first seven-speed automatic transmission
Mercedes-Benz produces a further highlight in the evolution of the automatic transmission in 2003 in the form of 7G-TRONIC, an electronically controlled torque-converter automatic with seven speeds for the ultimate in driving comfort and lightning-fast agility.
The first seven-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars in the world debuts in the E 500, S 430, S 500, CL 500 and SL 500 V8 models. It is later extended to numerous other models. The use of seven transmission ratios results in smalls shifts in engine speed, making it easier to select the optimum ratio to suit virtually every driving situation. At the same time, a wider ratio spread can be achieved between the smallest and largest gears. This has the effect of lowering the average engine speed too – a boon from the point of both fuel consumption and acoustic comfort.
In order to execute gear changes even faster when shifting down, this highly innovative transmission employs the multiple downshift principle, meaning that it skips individual gears and starts the next gearshift while still carrying out the one before. This produces some noticeably quicker acceleration times, makes driving even more enjoyable and also offers greater safety reserves for swift overtaking. Plus, shift quality reaches new heights too: the gear changes are silky smooth and barely noticeable any more, particularly in the higher gears.
2010: optimised 7G-TRONIC for added driving comfort and efficiency
In September 2010, Mercedes-Benz introduces a new, further enhanced generation of the 7-speed automatic transmission: the friction-optimised 7G-TRONIC PLUS featuring new torque-converter technology, which makes its debut in the CL-Class and S-Class as a counterpart for the BlueDIRECT engines. Thanks to the technical advancements and the harmonious pairing with the new engines, it has been possible to raise comfort standards yet again. This also applies to the standard ECO start/stop function: the intelligent electronics ensure that even the automatic restart of the engine after being stopped at traffic lights is barely perceptible.
Exemplary seating comfort
When developing seats, the specialists at Mercedes-Benz do not just concern themselves with the classic comfort properties, such as springing and damping, but also with the overall well-being of all passengers to ensure they arrive at their destination feeling fresher with no signs of fatigue, even after long journeys. The materials used in a Mercedes-Benz seat, and its construction, are designed for the greatest possible comfort under all weather and temperature conditions.
With numerous adjustment options, individually adaptable backrest and seat cushion contours, as well as options including active ventilation and a new massage function, the seats from Mercedes-Benz improve the personal well-being of the vehicle's occupants on long journeys. The twelve-way-adjustable front seats fitted as standard in many model series already offer the driver and front passenger first-class comfort. Fore/aft position, backrest and seat cushion angle, seat height, head restraint, lumbar support and seat cushion length can all be adjusted, allowing occupants of any stature to find their ideal individual seat position.
The actively ventilated comfort seats offer even greater comfort: mini fans in the seat cushion and backrest draw in cool air from the area near the floor of the passenger compartment and spread it throughout the ventilation webbing underneath the seat surface. The gentle flow of air prevents the seat occupants from breaking out in a sweat. Like the climatised seat, the multicontour seat is a proven Mercedes-Benz invention which makes a major contribution to the excellent long-distance comfort of the brand's cars. "Multicontour" means that the occupants are able to mould the seat's shape to suit their individual preferences. This is made possible by as many as nine air chambers underneath the seat cushioning, depending on the version.
Active multicontour seat: the pinnacle of seat comfort
Mercedes-Benz customers looking for the ultimate in car seat comfort can choose the active multicontour seat. With split-second speed, the seat varies the air pressure and volume of the side air chambers in the backrests as a function of steering angle, lateral acceleration and road speed to provide even better lateral support for the driver and front passenger. This active multicontour seat eases the strain on the muscles, thereby enhancing the sense of well-being as well as driver-fitness safety.
When it came to developing the seats for the current E-Class, Mercedes-Benz revived and enhanced a classic Mercedes concept from the past, namely padded seat piping – a sophisticated upholstery technique requiring skilled craftsmanship that is used exclusively by the Stuttgart car brand. It involves the insertion of an additional foam filling directly under the fabric or leather cover, which immediately makes the seat feel soft and pleasant to passengers when they get in the car. The ELEGANCE model line features padded seat piping that runs lengthways, making it reminiscent of the familiar and highly popular Mercedes-Benz seat design from the 1960s and 70s.
Acoustic comfort: less is more
The noise level is a fundamental component of driving comfort. A Mercedes-Benz is perceived to be pleasantly quiet thanks to a raft of measures that are combined together wisely.
Mercedes-Benz has been tracking down the source of irritating noises for many years now with the help of state-of-the-art artificial head technology for high-precision acoustic analysis: an acoustic artificial head is placed behind the wheel of a new model with special microphones fitted in its anatomically modelled auditory canals. Not only can these make stereoscopic sound recordings, they are able to take exact acoustic pressure and frequency measurements too. The evaluation of the measurement results shows how effective the noise reduction measures are.
Apart from objective readings of this type, it is also important for Mercedes-Benz engineers to assess motorists' subjective perception of the acoustic comfort. The reason: there are a good many noises which may register as quiet on the sound level meter, but whose frequencies nonetheless make them annoying, and this has a detrimental effect on comfort on long journeys. So, the acousticians employ special analytical methods that reproduce the human sense of hearing more closely and provide characteristic values for the subjective perception of the background noise.
One of these parameters is the "loudness". It is calculated on the basis of various frequency groups, which is why it depicts how the noise's volume is perceived by the human ear more precisely than the sound level. Other criteria for acoustic comfort include sharpness, for example, which is mainly used for evaluating high-frequency sounds such as fizzing or whistling, and the articulation index. This is an indicator of how easily the vehicle occupants can converse with one another during the journey or make phone calls with the hands-free system. Compared to its competitors,
Mercedes-Benz achieves above-average readings here.
As early as the concept phase, the engineers furthermore take care to optimise the airflow around the vehicle body to further reduce the noise level in the passenger compartment. To improve the "aeroacoustics" as this discipline is known, the Mercedes-Benz design engineers streamline the roof pillars, for example, create a rigid bodyshell devoid of any irritating vibrations and devise a door sealing concept that suppresses noises even more effectively.
Climate comfort increases performance abilities
In the early days of motoring, climate comfort is a distant dream for both chauffeurs and their passengers, who are mercilessly exposed to the elements in open cars. The advent of enclosed vehicle bodies including windows banishes the need for dust coats, balaclavas and goggles. Besides the substantial improvement in comfort, however, these new developments are accompanied by some drawbacks too: in the summer months, it can become unpleasantly hot under the sheet-metal or synthetic leather roof, while in the winter the passengers shiver underneath woollen blankets.
This situation is remedied by the first heating systems, especially those including a blower, which is able to keep the interior supplied with enough warm air even when driving slowly or at very low outside temperatures. On the 300 model from 1951, the legendary "Adenauer" Mercedes, the heater and two blowers are included as standard, while on the 220 model launched at the same time, this "plenum system" as it is originally known is optionally available at an extra charge.
The heating system with separate controls for the driver and front passenger side is another Mercedes-Benz speciality that is introduced back in 1953 in the 180 "Ponton" model. To help with draught-free and smoothly adjustable ventilation, there are the famous quarter-light windows, which continue to supply fresh air until far into the 1970s.
1958 marks the debut in the Mercedes-Benz 300 of a full air conditioning system in the modern sense, which is still called a "cooling system" at the time. Pope Paul VI would later come to appreciate the system's benefits in his 600 landaulet – especially on the drive to his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Automatic climate control for a consistent temperature
In 1977, Mercedes-Benz starts to offer a more advanced system in the S-Class as an optional alternative to the basic air conditioning: automatic climate control. Apart from heating and cooling, this new system keeps the interior at the selected temperature throughout the journey regardless of the changing conditions, without the driver or front passenger having to do a thing.
These days, almost all Mercedes-Benz passenger car models come with either an automatic climate control or air conditioning system as standard. The THERMOTRONIC four-zone automatic climate control introduced in the S-Class as standard in 2005 represents the pinnacle of climate comfort. Each occupant can program their personal climate settings, as the system works with four temperature zones that can be controlled independently of one another, draught-free mixed air, as well as several preset control modes.
Mercedes-Benz has devised a very special comfort-enhancing extra for the SL and SLK Roadsters and the E-Class Cabriolet: AIRSCARF, the patented neck-level heating system first made available in the SLK in 2004. It distributes air at just the right temperature through the head restraints, forming a warm, invisible "scarf" around the driver and passenger, and allowing them to experience all the freedom of open-top driving in comfort even in cooler weather. And in the four-seater E-Class Cabriolet launched in 2010, Mercedes-Benz offers yet another world first: the AIRCAP wind deflector system, which is able to noticeably reduce air turbulence for all occupants, including passengers in the rear, at the simple push of a button.
Made-to-measure vehicles that have a sense of spaciousness and are easy
When it comes to the whole topic of dimensional concept and all-round view, the Mercedes-Benz engineers follow a clear principle: the car has to adapt to the people inside it, rather than vice versa. By applying this premise, all models boast ergonomics which are rooted in scientific findings and offer passengers in all model classes an ideal blend of sense of spaciousness, freedom of movement, error-free control and all-round view.
The interior of a Mercedes-Benz is a habitat where the owner spends a great deal of their time. It is for this reason that the passenger compartment's flair, which takes varying forms to create different styles, is playing an increasingly important role. Here too, customers have grown to expect more and more. Reserved for only the most luxurious models in the 1930s, genuine materials and handcrafted workmanship of the highest calibre are now accessible to a wide clientele in many different forms.
Giving drivers a clear view of the body so it is easy to judge counts as another excellent comfort feature of a Mercedes-Benz. The window areas and certain reference points on the body are designed to allow an optimum all-round view and precise manoeuvring. The brand always remains attentive to its customers' needs here: when far-protruding rear sections are introduced together with the streamlined Ponton body style in the mid-1950s, some customers have trouble adjusting to the view out of the vehicle. When it launches its new luxury models in 1959, Mercedes-Benz reacts with features designed to restore the previous sense of a clear overview: the expansive window areas afford a good all-round view, while the tailfins at the rear serve as guides that help with parking.
PARKTRONIC and Active Parking Assist
Today, the ultrasonic sensors of the PARKTRONIC system comes to the driver's assistance when parking or manoeuvring by emitting visual and audible signals. Many models are additionally available with a reversing camera. Here, the camera's image is shown on the COMAND display as soon as reverse is engaged, making the task of parking far easier and safer. The Parking Assist system introduced in the S-Class in 2005 allows inch-perfect parking with its radar sensors; working in unison with the reversing camera, it superimposes guidelines on the image in the COMAND display to show the driver the correct path to take into the parking space.
The Active Parking Assist premiered in the A-Class and B-Class in 2008 goes one step further by using sensors to first detect a suitably sized parking space and then safely pilot the vehicle into the space by itself. The fact that little steering effort is required on the part of the driver when parking is down to another comfort feature: the power steering. First introduced in 1958 as an optional extra for the top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz 300, it has formed part of the standard specification on every
Mercedes-Benz passenger car since 1985.
Perfect ergonomics, straightforward operation and intelligent assistance systems
The principle of making a vehicle as simple and intuitive to operate as possible dates all the way back to the brand's formative days. It is just 1902 when the name "Mercedes Simplex" is given to the new Mercedes models as an expression of the advances that had been made in terms of simplified operation. Today, there is a whole battery of assistance systems designed to relieve drivers of distracting routine tasks and also come to their aid in critical situations.
The spectrum ranges from the Adaptive Highbeam Assist, which automatically switches the high-beam headlamps on and off, to the rain sensor for activating the windscreen wipers when needed, to the Speed Limit Assist, which helps the driver to keep to the permitted maximum speed and is especially useful on stretches of road with frequent speed limit changes.
These are complemented by the in-car communications systems, which are designed both for the driver's convenience and safety. This is one of the reasons for the introduction of the car radio with traffic message channel in the 1970s – up-to-the-minute warnings can help to prevent accidents. Mercedes-Benz has always endeavoured to achieve high audio quality to make sure that the driver can understand the reports without difficulty.
Despite the increasing number of functions, the operation of a Mercedes-Benz poses no problems. The well-ordered dashboard with various levels structured according to relevance, the COMAND system's easy-to-understand menu navigation and the clear purpose of switches and buttons allow drivers to quickly find their way around the controls.
Mercedes-Benz demonstrated back in 2007 how vehicles might be operated in the future with the control concept of the F 700. For more complex command processes, the research vehicle features an individual input wizard, known in the world of IT as an "Avatar". The Avatar in the F 700 takes the form of a young woman. She "talks" to the driver, inquiring what the desired destination is in the navigation menu, for instance, and confirming the spoken input. A radio station can be selected or a contact chosen from the phone book for placing a call in similar fashion.
This form of two-way dialogue makes the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system – which has been available in production vehicles for some time now – simpler to use for the driver at the same time as improving the system's speech recognition. Plus, the potential for extending the scope of dialogue-based assistance functions is virtually limitless. For instance, the Avatar could act as a virtual assistant that can access online databases from the vehicle via an internet connection, update the driver's appointment calendar or read out important emails. Operation based on a spoken dialogue minimises driver distraction.
Customisation for an ambience of well-being
The factory-fitted customisation options alone are more diverse than ever and are constantly on the increase. Whereas customers were able to choose from predominantly technical alternatives from the 1950s onwards – such as petrol or diesel engine, automatic or manual transmission, short or long wheelbase, saloon, estate, coupé or cabriolet – over the course of time, the distinctions have become ever finer.
The various equipment and design lines have allowed every Mercedes-Benz customer to lend expression to their personal sense of style since the 1990s. First introduced for the C-Class in 1993, numerous model series can now be ordered in a choice of design and equipment lines that each cater to different tastes. And with an enormous selection of attractive optional extras on offer, vehicles can be given an even more personal touch. The range spans from the smallest practical detail to complete high-end surround sound systems.
Mercedes-Benz customers who are looking for an especially high-powered variant or wish to give their vehicle an extra-sporty look can choose from the many different AMG models and optional extras which have complemented the Mercedes-Benz model range since 1991. In 2006, Mercedes-AMG goes one step further with its opening of the AMG Performance Studio that is able to turn even the most exotic wish into reality.
Since 1995, customers have been able to choose from the designo range too, offering countless possible combinations made up of stunning paint finishes, extra-soft leather in exclusive colours, plus trim variants in four different materials – fine wood, piano lacquer, stone and leather.
Mercedes-Benz also has a long tradition of building vehicles specially designed to protect against outside attack: the inconspicuous special-protection vehicles from the Mercedes-Benz Guard range ensure the greatest possible protection for groups of people who are vulnerable to attack.