Mercedes-Benz and Henry Poole blend elegance with resilience at Concours on Savile Row

Mercedes-Benz has partnered with tailor Henry Poole to show the S680 GUARD 4MATIC, the latest in a long line of special-protection vehicles it has made over many decades. The car will be on display at Concours on Savile Row (May 22-23, 2024) in central London.

Mercedes-Benz has been building special-protection vehicles since 1928, and the manufacturer’s new S680 GUARD 4MATIC benefits from these many years of experience. The integrated protection system (iSS) is a new innovation – whereas previously, protective materials were integrated into the standard bodyshell structure for the GUARD saloons, here a GUARD-specific bodyshell of protective elements has been developed. This self-supporting cell represents the core of the iSS. The aluminium outer skin serves as a design shell and ensures an inconspicuous appearance.

In addition to the unseen armouring elements, the transparent area of the windows is an integral and essential part of the protection concept. The material and thickness of the multi-layer glass ‘sandwich’ meet the high requirements of the VR10 safety classification. The inner surfaces of the glass are coated with polycarbonate for splinter protection; however, the glass innovations are integrated in such a way that they are not noticeable at first glance – another significant advantage of the integrated protection system.

In addition to the armouring, the iSS includes special adaptations to the suspension, engine and transmission, to ensure handling virtually on a par with that of a normal S-Class. The V12 has an output of 612bhp and a displacement of 5980cc, while the maximum torque is 830Nm from 2000rpm. This engine is combined with a four-wheel-drive system for the first time; torque distribution is 31 percent to the front axle and 69 percent to the rear.

The interior space also benefits from the iSS concept, as the comfort dimensions largely correspond to those of the normal long S-Class. As with the production model, it was possible to keep the joins in the bodyshell to a minimum. More than 80 individualisation options are available for the S-Class, from active ambient lighting and a media display featuring OLED technology, through to a first-class rear suite and rear airbags. There are virtually no restrictions on trim parts and colour combinations.

The new S680 GUARD 4MATIC meets the requirements of the highest civilian protection class, VR10, and can withstand fire from an assault rifle using armour-piercing ammunition. The S680 GUARD 4MATIC also meets the requirements of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office. Protection against blast attacks is documented by compliance with the latest version of the VPAM ERV (Explosive Resistant Vehicles) standard; indeed, the S680 GUARD 4MATIC was not only the very first vehicle to complete the current tests, it also achieved the top scores in all three tests (roof, floor and side), with three out of three stars. 

The S680 GUARD 4MATIC features newly developed door actuators. Although the doors are very heavy due to their armouring, this electro-mechanical system means that only low operating forces are required when opening and closing. This applies not only on level ground, but also when the vehicle is on a slope. The stepless door’s sensor technology detects when and how it is to be moved or stopped. Algorithms from human-supporting robotics (cobots) are used. The system facilitates the work of the bodyguards in particular, allowing personnel to keep one hand free at the same time.

The hydraulically (instead of electrically) operated window lifters mean than even if the on-board power supply fails, emergency operation is possible, such as closing in the event of an attempted attack.

Other special equipment includes a fire-extinguishing system with automatic triggering function, and an emergency fresh-air system that protects occupants from penetrating smoke or irritant gases, as well as supplies them with fresh air. Other special options include an extensive range of equipment for official authorities, such as a siren, flashing lights and radios, as well as a panic-alarm system. The Michelin PAX run-flat tyres make it possible to move out of the danger zone up to a distance of 30km.

The 5980cc V12 bi-turbo power unit has been extensively revised, with the exhaust-gas turbochargers, exhaust manifold and air ducting all adapted for use with the S680. This is the first time the engine has been combined with the 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system, too. The engine also features an all-aluminium crankcase, one-piece chain drive, forged crankshaft made of high-quality quenched and tempered steel, forged pistons and multi-spark ignition system with 12 double ignition coils. It produces 830Nm from 2000rpm, and peak power of 612bhp. The standard torque distribution for this model is 31 percent to the front axle and 69 percent to the rear axle. Among other things, the all-wheel drive was adapted to the higher vehicle weight of the GUARD version with stronger side shafts.

One of the oldest tailors on Savile Row, Henry Poole has offered the best in fine British tailoring since 1806. Specialising in bespoke hand-made suits and shirts, generations of the Poole and Cundey family have proudly served customers since James Poole started stitching military uniforms during the Napoleonic Wars.

For more details on the Mercedes-Benz GUARD, head here. For more details on Henry Poole & Co, head here.