For security-minded captains of industry and dignitaries, the new generation Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard offers improved protection from attack, as well as high levels of luxury.
From the outside the S600 Guard looks barely any different to regular S600 models — unless, of course, the optional flag holders are fitted or the discretely mounted emergency lights are flashing away.
The new S600 Guard is the first vehicle to be awarded Germany's VR9 bullet protection rating. This means that the new car can resist fire from military grade weapons, as well as hand grenades and other explosives.
To help it keep its occupants safe, the S600 Guard wears additional underbody protection, while special steel inserts have been fitted into the car body's numerous cavities. The S600 Guard's thick framed glass windows have been coated with a layer of polycarbonate to protect passengers from shrapnel splinters.
If these upgrades aren't enough, the options list includes a panic alarm system, an automatically activated fire suppression system, emergency fresh air supply and security blinds for all the rear windows.
The car's extra layers of protection have reduced boot space from 500L to 350L. The S600 Guard is available in both four- and five-seat configurations.
Despite the focus on safety and security, luxury is still present in spades. Available features extend to massaging rear seats, business console with touchscreen monitors, individual reclining rear seats, surface heating for practically every touchable element, and a wireless telephony system for rear-seat passengers.
Under the bonnet, the S600 Guard features the same 390kW/830Nm twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12 engine that's available in regular S-Class models. Aside from an electronically limited top speed of 210km/h, Mercedes-Benz refrains from quoting performance figures, but given the S600 Guard's extra heft it's unlikely to best the normal S600's 0-100km/h time of 4.6 seconds.
The S600 Guard's air suspension system has been tuned to ensure passenger comfort, as well as cope with the car's increased mass and reduced ground clearance. Chunky Michelin PAX run-flat tyres are fitted to all four wheels and can travel up to 30km when damaged.