The standard-specification AIRMATIC suspension system of the Mercedes S-Class combines pneumatic suspension with an Adaptive Damping System (ADS), which adjusts the front and rear shock absorber forces to the current payload, the condition of the road surface and driving style.
A steering angle sensor, three acceleration sensors on the car body, the ABS speed sensor and the brake pedal sensor constantly measure the lateral and longitudinal acceleration of the body. From this data, the ADS control unit calculates the optimal damper setting for each individual wheel and transmits the relevant signals with split-second speed to special valves on the gas-pressure shock absorbers.
These valves are able to switch between four different damping characteristics. Using a selector on the instrument panel, the driver can also switch between a standard mode or a tauter, more sporty mode. This adjusts the thresholds at which the different damping characteristics are activated. In sporty mode, the firmest characteristic is selected earlier, while in comfort mode the softest characteristic remains activated for longer.