Mercedes-Benz is continuing the slow tease of the forthcoming W223 S-Class ahead of its September unveiling, this time revealing plenty of new suspension and safety technologies. The self-proclaimed “best car in the world” will pack a smorgasbord of world firsts, including an optional rear frontal airbag.

First seen on the Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF) 2019, the rear airbag is located behind the front seats and features a slightly different design to what we’re used to. Instead of the entire volume being inflated by compressed gas, here it’s only the tubular wings, with the main airbag itself absorbing the surrounding air through specially-designed valves in the skin.

This enables it to be softer and deploy with less force to reduce the risk of injury, as the rear seats are still required to accommodate child seats. Of course, the airbag is designed to work with the seat belts (which, by the way, are inflatable and come with their own airbags), so all the more reason to buckle up at the rear. Speaking of which, you can now get illuminated “designer” seat belt buckles to make them easier to fasten.

Crash safety is further improved by the new centre airbag between the driver and passenger, as well as an additional feature for Pre-Safe Impulse Side. If the car is fitted with E-Active Body Control, a 48-volt active suspension system, it can raise the ride height in a fraction of a second if it detects an impending side collision, allowing the stronger lower body structure to take the brunt of the impact.

As for active safety, Stuttgart seems to be reserving the biggest features for the eventual reveal, but it has released a few juicy morsels. As the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) Interior Assistant is able to detect if the driver or front passenger is reaching the door handle, the door opening warning can now sound an alert earlier, using visual cues such as the door mirror blind spot warning triangle and the ambient lighting.

Just like on the facelifted BMW 5 Series, the new S-Class will also be able to divert itself to give way to emergency services using the Active Steering Assist. Speaking of which, steering the car has been made easier thanks to the upgraded rear-wheel-steer system, now optionally available in two variants.

In addition to the usual 4.5-degree system, there’s an option of an increased steering angle of ten degrees. This not only makes the S-Class look like a forklift at full lock but, together with the more direct front steering ratio, it also shortens the turning circle by up to two metres, dropping the diameter to under 11 metres – comparable to an A-Class.

To ensure more precise and stable handling, the car integrates the actuation of the steering and brakes. As you can imagine, the increased rear steering angle works wonders in parking, and the Active Parking Assist has been upgraded to take full advantage, integrating the rear steer for improved trajectory planning.

The system now features 12 improved ultrasonic sensors at the front and rear, along with autonomous emergency braking in reverse with pedestrian detection. The optional 360-degree camera system is equipped with four additional cameras for better vacant parking space recognition – including the detection of parking lot markings instead of spaces in between vehicles.

With the system fitted, Parking Assist will now brake for pedestrians whether moving forwards or back, and Mercedes says that it is actually possible to prevent collisions around the entire vehicle, while conforming to strict UNECE R79 regulations for automated parking.

Additionally, a 3D view allows drivers to rotate and even zoom the image to provide a better look of the surroundings, with the model of the car able to show not only the indicators and brake lights, but also if the doors are open or the mirrors folded – things that can obscure the operation of the surround view monitor.

The reduction of hard camouflage on the prototype you see here gives a better view of the side of the new S-Class, showcasing the cleaner side profile thanks to the addition of retractable door handles. This has pushed the shoulder line upwards to align with the beltline. The front and rear ends are as we’ve seen in previously leaked photos, with a massive front grille, slim headlights and triangular CLS-style tail lights.