The S600 Guard is an S-Class that has been packed to the brim with armor, designed to protect occupants against the full range of threats that face a modern head of state.
The first change Mercedes has made to the standard S-Class is in the bodyshell: special reinforced steel is fitted between car's structure and bodywork to provide extra protection against ballistics like gunfire or rockets. These are supplemented by aramid components, which provide extra protection against weapons that splinter.
To minimize weakness, Mercedes has reinforced potential weak spots by strategically overlapping panels. Speaking of the dangers facing passengers, one of the biggest threats they'll face when under attack is splintering glass, so the S600 Guard features thickened laminated glass, coated with polycarbonate.
Under the car, most key components are protected by armor plating to deal with explosives.
All of this armor adds up to a car that, according to Mercedes, will protect occupants against explosives fired from close range on both sides of the car, and has been awarded the highest possible rating for protection against ballistics (VR9).
Protecting occupants is one thing, but subtlety is also an asset when ferrying dignitaries around. Although the S600 Guard has been designed to look as much like a standard S-Class as possible, with flashing lights and flags fitted there's no mistaking that someone important is riding inside.
Inside, the Guard is available with most of the driver aids that Mercedes offers on its standard S-Class, and extra interior features like a rear-seat office are available.
Air suspension is standard, with steel rear springs providing extra reinforcement to deal with the weight associated with armor-plating.
The S-Class' brakes are also uprated to deal with the extra weight: up front the standard car's brake calipers have been upgraded to six-piston units, which clamp on bigger brake discs. The rear brakes are also bigger than those on the standard car, and the wheels are wrapped in special run-flat tires, which allow drivers to travel 30 km (19 miles) from sticky situations while damaged.
Powering the Guard is a 390 kW (530 hp) V12. With peak torque of 830 Nm (612 lb/ft), the V12 should comfortably be able to power the heavily-armored S-Class. Power is put down by Mercedes' 7G-TRONIC automatic, and the Guard's top speed is limited to 210 km/h (130 mph).
Mercedes has not published details of pricing, but expect a hefty premium over a standard S-Class.