Instead of a conventional suspension and damping system with coil springs and gas-pressure shock absorbers, the new Mercedes S-class is equipped with AIRMATIC, a system which combines pneumatic suspension with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS) to ensure a uniformly comfortable ride and high standards of active safety.

AIRMATIC comprises a variety of components which are connected via pneumatic lines and CAN databus (Controller Area Network), namely pneumatic suspension struts front and rear, an air compressor, a central reservoir, air suspension valves, a control unit and various sensors.

AIRMATIC is an open system in which the vehicle weight is supported by the compressed air enclosed in the rubber bellows of the suspension struts. Level control is effected by supplying or releasing air as and when required at each individual wheel, by means of fast-acting solenoid valves. The necessary data for controlling the valves is supplied by two yaw sensors on the front axle and one on the rear axle, which monitor the level of the vehicle.

The air suspension of the S-class not only automatically compensates for different pay-loads but also enables the vehicle level to be raised manually by 25 millimetres at the touch of a button on the instrument panel. This function is particularly useful when driving over dirt tracks, or badly potholed roads.