Mercedes' assault includes the following:

  • S-Class: S600, S400 CDI and S320 CDI join the line-up
  • CL: German premiere for the new CL500 and CL600 flagship coupes
  • M-Class: New ML55 AMG and ML270 CDI
  • CLK: Cabriolet with V8 engine plus upgrade for all models
  • Engine technology: Putting variable valve control to the test
  • Safety: Early accident detection system
  • Alternative drive systems: Major advances in fuel cell technology
The Car Enthusiast have previously reported on some of the above; the M-class from last week, the CLK for the UK market and the German market in previous weeks. This week we detail the S-class, CL and the massive amount of new technology on display by Mercedes.

New twelve-cylinder production star on the Mercedes stand

One of the star production cars on the Mercedes-Benz motor show stand is the S600, the new top model of the S-Class, featuring the newly developed V12 engine, automatic cylinder cutout and an active suspension system. The twelve-cylinder engine produces 367bhp and accelerates the S600 from rest to 62mph in 6.3 seconds. Not bad considering that this car is weighed down by a very long specification.

This is the modern-day limousine - available with armoured plating

Mercedes engineers have also made significant progress in the area of fuel consumption: the new S600 uses 13.4 litres per 100 kilometres in the new European driving cycle (NEDC overall) - i.e. around 20 per cent less than the predecessor model. The new V12 power plant also already complies with the strict EU 4 emission limits that will not take effect until the year 2005.

Active Body Control, which Mercedes-Benz will in future also be fitting as standard to the new CL coupe, endows the S600 with a unique handling/ride compromise. The system reduces body movements when pulling away or braking as well as during cornering. Active Body Control is part of the standard equipment of the S600 and will in future also be available as an option for the S320, S430 and S500 models.

Further standard features of the V12 flagship include the innovative 'command' control and display concept, xenon headlamps, dynamic multi-contour backrests for the driver and front-seat passenger as well as the 'Exclusive Leather' interior trim. The S600 is available only as a long-wheelbase version. We also report on Audi's answer to this car this week. At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz will present its new flagship saloon in the special protection 'M Guard' version for those S-class buyers afraid that someone may be trying to assassinate them...

Mercedes' new diesels are far removed to the traditional tractor unit

New direct-injection diesels with six and eight cylinders

In addition Mercedes-Benz rounds off the S-class range by adding two new diesel variants. The most powerful diesel engine from Stuttgart will be the V8 unit of the new S400 CDI. It develops 238bhp and boasts an impressive maximum torque of 560Nm available from just 1800rpm. The S400 CDI uses just 9.0 litres of fuel to cover 100 kilometres. This is impressive for a car of this size.

The direct injection system of this eight-cylinder diesel engine works according to the common-rail principle. A bi-turbo system with electrically

adjustable guide vanes, water charge-air cooling and the Mercedes four-valve-technology for diesel engines combine to make this engine more than just a tractor unit. The new S400 CDI will enter production in a few months time.

The six-cylinder engine under the bonnet of the Mercedes-Benz S320 CDI which will go on sale in late 1999 also boasts direct injection, VNT turbocharger and intercooler. It develops 197bhp and provides its maximum torque of 470Nm from 1800rpm for powerful acceleration. With a fuel consumption of only 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres (NEDC overall) the S320 CDI is capable of covering around 1,100 kilometres on a full 88 litre tank.

Market launch of the new Mercedes-Benz CL in a few weeks

Following its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of this year, the new Mercedes CL coupe will now enjoy its German trade fair debut in Frankfurt. The restyled four-headlamp front end, the stretched silhouette and the arched roofline lend this two-door a family look, but its own unique character on the marketplace. The CL500 and CL600 will appear at Mercedes-Benz dealers in Europe and Japan in a few weeks time. The US market launch is scheduled for early December 1999.

The huge CL coupe goes on sale in September

Standard equipment includes the Active Body Control suspension system, high-intensity bi-xenon headlamps for high beam and low beam as well as integral molded seats for the driver and front passenger. In addition, all the technical highlights from the S-class may also be specified for the flagship coupe. Available options include the intelligent autonomous cruise control known as 'distronic', actively ventilated seats, dynamic route guidance system and the chip card controlled drive authorisation system 'Keyless Go'.

The CL is available with either the 5.0-litre engine (306bhp) or with the new V12 power plant (367bhp) out of the S600.

Click here to read about Mercedes' new technology on display at Frankfurt.

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