The Australian Government has awarded Mercedes-Benz the tender to supply 16 armoured vehicles for November’s G20 economic summit in Brisbane.

Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard

Each gunfire- and bomb-proof Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard limousine costs around $1 million and is hand-built in Germany to be one of the most highly armoured cars in the world.

The S600 Guard fleet will ferry global dignitaries at the event, and is the second foreign vehicle to oust traditional Australian-made armoured vehicles based on the Ford Territory and Holden Caprice.

It follows BMW’s successful bid to supply armoured X5 SUVs to the Federal Police, while an armoured 7 Series is expected to become the prime minister’s choice of wheels.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Guard

Rather than purchasing the 16 vehicles, however, the Australian Government will lease the S600 Guard fleet from Mercedes-Benz for the event, at a taxpayer-funded total cost of $1.8 million.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s department confirmed that, “following a tender process – during which both Australian and international companies were invited to quote – Mercedes-Benz was selected.”

“As hosts of this year’s G20 summit, the Australian Government has an obligation to provide armoured vehicles for visiting foreign dignitaries.

“The full fleet of armoured vehicles for the G20 will be made up of a combination of Australia’s permanent fleet of armoured vehicles, and the 16 leased Mercedes-Benz S-Guard vehicles.”

Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard windows

The Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard is based on the forthcoming S600 expected to cost more than $300,000 new when it lands in Australia later this year. The company says the armour added to make it a Guard makes it more than three times more expensive than the regular model.

Before running down the regular S-Class production line, the S600L gets turned into a Guard by having its entire passenger shell wrapped in heavy armour, while its windows are more than an inch thick.

Both glass and metal can withstand gunfire from an AK47 assault rifle, handing the S600 Guard an armour rating of VR9 in both cases – the highest level, and two higher than the AFP X5s achieve for glass protection.

Even the underfloor compartment is completely protected so the passenger cell can withstand driving over a landmine or other explosion without fatality. If the S600 Guard caught on fire, a button on the console signals a boot-mounted fire hydrant to extinguish the blaze via jets under the body.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Guard

Another button allows stored oxygen into the cabin in case of a chemical attack. The tyres are nail-proof and get thick steel belts inside them so the S600 Guard can be driven even while deflated.

The S600 Guard does not get an after-market addition of armour, however, but rather it is built into the build process, and utilises the same luxurious interior as the S-Class.

The stability control system is changed, while additional suspension components including dual Airmatic dampers and steel springs – where one or the other is available on regular S-Class – is designed to manage adding an extra two-tonnes of heft to the car.

The 4.3-tonne Guard utilises the same 6.0-litre V12 petrol engine as the S600, producing 390kW of power and 830Nm of torque.

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Guard

Thanks to the extra mass, the 0-100km/h performance time increases by two seconds to “around 6.5 seconds” while combined cycle fuel consumption soars to “about 15.0 litres per 100 kilometres” – though the Guard is exempt from official testing.

The G20 global economic summit kicks off in Brisbane on 15 and 16 November 2014.

The exclusively left-hand-drive Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard models are already being shipped to Australia for driver training, validation and the implementation of radios, ahead of the event.

Note: Headline previously read: "Australian Government orders $16 million Mercedes-Benz S-Guard armoured limos for G20 summit"