By Bennett Oghifo
Luxurious comfort, extensive individualisation options and integrated maximum protection ex-factory: this is what Mercedes-Benz Guard stands for, according to the automaker.
The first Mercedes-Benz automobile with special protection was a prestigious Pullman Saloon in the Nürburg 460 (W 08) series introduced in 1928. This vehicle and two armoured Model 770 “Grand Mercedes” Pullman Saloons ordered by the Japanese Emperor in 1930 were the original examples of these very special automobiles. For more than nine decades, governments, crowned heads and companies have placed their confidence in special protection vehicles bearing the world-renowned star. The current Mercedes-Benz Guard models provide maximum protection up to Class VR10, and are highly sophisticated products at the highest technical level. The Guard manufactory also makes numerous individualisation options available. It is also traditional for Mercedes-Benz to supply Guard vehicles for international occasions such as state receptions, summit meetings and social events of great importance.
An unrivalled combination of outstanding attributes is the key to the success of the Mercedes-Benz Guard range. On the one hand the special protection models meet the highest protection standards available for civilian vehicles, and provide full all-round protection. On the other hand they cosset their occupants with hallmark S-Class comfort, the highest active and passive safety and unrestricted day-to-day suitability.
Integrated special protection by Mercedes-Benz Guard makes this possible. For example, all the protective elements for the doors, rear wall, side components, roof and firewall are not subsequently installed in an already finished vehicle, but integrated into the bodyshell in a separate production process right from the start. To this end the models in the Guard family are conceived and developed together with the unprotected variants from the outset. Potential weaknesses are identified by extensive tests during the development process, and verified by the specialists.
Focused driver safety training by Mercedes-Benz familiarises customers and chauffeurs with the handling capabilities of the Guard models. This is included in the vehicle price. They also receive instruction in the special technical features and systems.
Integrated special protection and a highly-effective combination of materials
All the measures are based on the many years of experience of Mercedes-Benz in the engineering of special protection vehicles. All reinforcing elements made of special steel alloys and other high-strength materials are already integrated in cavities between the bodyshell and exterior skin during the body production phase, specifically reinforcing the basic structure. Joints and material transitions feature intelligently designed material overlaps. Relevant areas of the underbody are protected by armour specially developed for these vehicles.
The glazing is a fixed and very important part of the protective measures. Here too, the material and thickness meet the high requirements of the protection category concerned.
The inner surfaces of the glass are coated with polycarbonate for splinter protection. Despite their comprehensive protective effect, they offer very good visibility.
This solid combination provides highly effective occupant protection against attacks.
The interior remains practically unaffected by the very complex and technically sophisticated protection system, and offers the occupants unrestricted comfort – unlike vehicles with subsequently installed armour plating. Naturally the suspension, brakes, springs and assistance systems are adapted for the additional weight and ensure near-standard handling characteristics with excellent comfort.
It is part of the protective concept that models with special protection are only distinguishable from their standard production counterparts on very close scrutiny.
A number of special technical features also ensure that they remain mobile during and after an attack, and can leave the danger area as rapidly as possible.
To this end the powerful, high-torque V12 engine makes 390 kW (530 hp) and 830 newton metres available at 1900 rpm.
Special items of equipment are available for the Mercedes-Benz Guard models, for example:
emergency fresh air system protecting occupants from the ingress of smoke or irritant gases
self-activating fire extinguisher system
official equipment, e.g. siren, revolving beacons and two-way radio
emergency starter battery
easily operated panic alarm system
external communication system (loudspeaker/microphone)
Many governments, companies and organisations also take the opportunity for a detailed production discussion about the ordered Guard vehicle. In this way Mercedes-Benz is able to take special wishes and requirements into account from the start, and suggest specific solutions.
Mercedes-Benz Guard certifications VR9 and VR10
Three Mercedes-Benz Guard models are available.
Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Guard (combined fuel consumption 18.4 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 421 g/km): this has the highest VR10 ballistic protection class currently available for civilian vehicles, and represents the pinnacle for civilian special protection vehicles. Since its premiere in 2015 it has been the only series production saloon to have this classification ex factory.
Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman Guard (combined fuel consumption 20.6 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 473 g/km): since 2018 this has been the world’s only long-wheelbase state limousine with armour protection ex factory, and has Class VR9 ballistic protection.
Mercedes-Benz S 600 Guard (combined fuel consumption 18.4 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 421 g/km): in 2014 this was the first vehicle to be fully certified for Class VR9 ballistic protection.
All models have official certification from the proofhouse in Ulm, and meet the requirements of BRV 2009, version 2 (Bullet Resistant Vehicles). In this test the body and windows must withstand fire from an assault rifle using armour-piercing ammunition. Compared with VR9, protective measures according to VR10 withstand an approx. 20 percent higher penetration force.
All models also effectively protect their occupants from explosive devices. The roof, floor and sides meet the criteria of Guideline ERV 2010 (Explosive Resistant Vehicles).
Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Guard
In the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the perfection of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes together with the exclusivity of Maybach: this top-class saloon combines traditional elegance with ultra-modern comfort, and conveys the height of serenity. Its stately appearance underscores this from every angle. Its length of 5462 millimetres and wheelbase of 3365 millimetres are 200 millimetres more than those of a long-wheelbase S-Class Saloon.
The increased size benefits the rear passengers, as do the Executive seats on the left and right as standard, plus further, exclusive details. The generous spaciousness and design turn the interior into both a multifunctional working environment and an exclusive salon. There is a wide choice of high-grade materials for the interior, and the range of individualisation options is quite enormous: the focus is on the customer’s wishes.
Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman Guard
The Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman is the epitome of high-end luxury. It combines generous spaciousness with unique interior touches. VIP passengers seated in the direction of travel have two Executive seats as standard, and are able to enjoy the most generous legroom in this segment plus extremely convenient access and egress. In typical Pullman style, the four rear passengers are seated in opposed seats behind the electrically retractable partition.
As was the case with the legendary Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman (W 100), the generous dimensions of the Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman proclaim its special status. With a length of around 6500 millimetres, the Pullman is another 1053 millimetres longer than the Mercedes‑Maybach S‑Class. The wheelbase is a stately 4418 millimetres. At 1598 millimetres, the Pullman is also 100 millimetres higher than the Mercedes S‑Class, providing noticeably more headroom.
Mercedes-Benz S 600 Guard
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class likewise combines work with lifestyle at the highest level. Materials, ambience and workmanship in the interior fulfil the diverse requirements of a luxury saloon. The 3165-millimetre wheelbase of the long version and an overall length of 5255 millimetres allow for an interior with generous dimensions. A wide range of individualisation options is also available for the S-Class.
It is also part of the DNA of an S-Class to present technological innovations never before seen in an automobile in this form, e.g. in the area of driver assistance systems or comfort features.
Special protection vehicles for over 90 years
For more than 90 years, Mercedes-Benz has laid claim to a special status with respect to personal protection. This tradition is also a unique history of innovations. This is because the protective measures are always developed specifically for the model in question, and also keep pace with technical advances to provide the best possible protection.
It was with the Model Nürburg 460 of 1928 that the then Daimler-Benz AG was the first company to start equipping its saloons with special protection ex factory, so as to effectively protect the occupants from attacks using firearms and explosive devices. Mercedes-Benz also developed specially protected versions of subsequent luxury and prestige models such as the Model 770 “Grand Mercedes” and the 500 and the 540 K models. The Japanese emperor Hirohito chose an armoured “Grand Mercedes” as a personal car befitting his status – this example delivered in 1935 can now be admired at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
Many politicians and heads of state followed the emperor’s example and entrusted their safety and security to Mercedes-Benz special protection vehicles. In September 1963 Mercedes-Benz presented a new, exclusive prestige model for the highest expectations – the legendary Model 600. Shortly after this presentation, the German government approached Daimler-Benz AG with a request for an armoured version for state guests. This was the start of a new era in special protection for the engineers in Stuttgart, and new approaches were required – partly because of the by now conventional unibody design of vehicles. As no other German automobile manufacturer was able to provide armoured vehicles ex factory, and Mercedes-Benz saloons had a high reputation amongst governments around the world, a close relationship developed between the German authorities and Daimler-Benz. During the course of this, the brand initiated numerous new technical approaches. The intensive cooperation helped to provide the basis for today’s European standards for the different resistance classes.
When a large demand for special protection vehicles arose in Latin America in 1970, Daimler-Benz AG had a suitable answer with armoured 280 SEL 3.5 vehicles. Mercedes-Benz also produced special protection versions of the eight-cylinder W 116-series models and delivered them to selected customers, among them state institutions and governments in Europe and overseas.
Since 1980 and without exception, all generations of the S-Class (model series 126, 140, 220, 221) and the current model (222 series) have always also been available in special protection versions.