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The S680 Guard, piece of mind on wheels

Mercedes-Benz S 680 GUARD 4MATIC

This is the latest of what Mercedes-Benz calls their ‘Special Protection’ vehicles, better known as the ‘Guard’ series, based on regular Mercedes models but modified into behemoths that offer the highest protection level for civilian vehicles, the latest S680 Guard now introduces all-wheel drive into this segment for the first time.

The new S680 GUARD 4MATIC offers protection class VPAM and meets the highest ballistic test level for civilian vehicles being particularly resistant to explosive charges, the official certification by Beschussamt Ulm (ballistic testing authority) was carried out for the first time using so-called biofidelic dummies that come with bone and soft tissue-like constructions to imitate the human body particularly realistically.

With a base price of €457,100, the S680 GUARD 4MATIC is powered by the renowned M279 V12 engine from Mercedes, delivering 612 hp (450kW) and it’s the first time a GUARD model comes with all-wheel drive in the more than 90 years Mercedes-Benz has been building these Special Protection models since 1928, over that period they have perfected every aspect it takes to create a car that literally has to protect the lives of the occupants, even under attack.

On earlier GUARD versions of Mercedes-Benz cars, the required protective materials were added or integrated onto the original chassis and body of the base model, on this S680 GUARD the entire bodyshell has been developed as a GUARD-specific unit from the start to raise the iSS, the integrated protection system, to an entirely new height, this is now a self-supporting protective cell core part of the iSS, the exterior aluminum body panels are just there for looks, and to camouflage the fact this is a high-level, bullet-proof car to drive high-net-worth individuals around.

The GUARD iSS not only consists of a new protective cell, a car with this kind of added weight also requires a bespoke suspension to cope with the additional weight compared to the regular series model, this also includes modifications to the engine and transmission, so the driver can expect similar handling as he would behind the wheel of a normal S-Class Mercedes-Benz because these new GUARD models are being developed alongside the normal production models, but they also reach production level longevity.

When it comes to the glass surfaces on a GUARD model, the multi-layer glass ‘sandwich’ has to meet the highest requirements of VR10 safety classification, on the inside the glass gets a polycarbonate coating for splinter protection but still show excellent visibility, while at the same time the thick glass has been integrated in such a way that they are not noticeable at first glance, another significant advantage of the integrated protection system.

On the S680 GUARD 4MATIC you can get just about every option for the exterior and interior as you would on the regular Mercedes S-Class, with a total of more than 80 options from interior lights, integrated media systems with OLED tech to Mercedes’ First-Class rear suite … you can opt for a three-seat rear or a two-seat rear compartment, whichever the client prefers … always keeping in mind that any ‘unsafe’ options will not be available … a large panoramic sunroof is not possible for instance.

This new S680 GUARD meets the requirements of the highest civilian protection class VR10 according to the standard VPAM BRV version three (Bullet Resistant Vehicles), during testing, both the body and the windows must be able to withstand direct impacts from an assault rifle using armor-piercing ammunition, this new S-Class GUARD also meets the requirements of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). Protection against blast attacks is documented by compliance with the latest version of the VPAM ERV(Explosive Resistant Vehicles) standard, the test criteria for which are not freely available. The S 680 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. Test result: “no damage” to dummies and indicators according to assessment scheme VPAM ERV.

The problem with highly-armored cars like this is weight, the added layers of protection add a lot of weight to the base model, for instance, the doors are reinforced on the inside, but they also carry a lot of weight from the thick glass that has to be fitted, this requires special hydraulic window lifters to cope with the heavy glass, but imagine opening the door on a slope, that would be almost impossible without electro-mechanical door actuators that actively push the door open when you pull the latch to facilitate the work of the bodyguards, and at the same time, they can keep one hand free.

Cars like the S 680 GUARD 4MATIC include a lot of special equipment bespoke-made just for them, like a fire extinguishing system with an automatic triggering function, or an emergency fresh air system that protects occupants from penetrating smoke or irritant gases, but there are also options available that aren’t listed on the normal S-Class list: including an extensive range of equipment for official authorities, such as a siren, flashing lights, and radios, as well as a panic alarm system.

Naturally, a car like this Mercedes-Benz S680 GUARD 4MATIC doesn’t roll on standard tires, this car comes with a set of Michelin PAX run-flat tires are a standard feature, even when perforated these can keep going for up to 30 kilometers to get the occupants safe and out of harms way in case of an emergency, and while the 6-Liter V12 engine boasts 612 hp and 830 Nm of torque at as low as 2,000 rpm, due to the increased weight of the GUARD version, the top speed has been electronically limited to 190 Km/h … but you can have people move out of your way with the flashing blue lights on this car.