Also highly touted was the 'Road Surface Scan' feature, part of the optional 'Magic Body Control' system, which let the S-Class detect and prime itself for upcoming bumps and surface imperfections.
There were limitations to its capabilities, of course. Visibility needed to be good for it to work properly, and certain road surfaces and conditions could prevent it from functioning as expected.
Regardless, the press release described the S-Class fitted with this system as 'the world's first car to be able to detect bumps on the road ahead'. Unfortunately, for Mercedes, this wasn't the case - and it had missed the chance to claim that headline by some 28 years.
Automation was deemed appropriate for flagship derivatives, leading to the work on an electronically adjustable suspension system that would automatically optimise the car's dampers for the conditions.
The result was a new sonar-based hardware package, patented in February 1984, called the 'Supersonic Suspension System'. It used an ultrasonic sonar, mounted in the nose of the car, to 'look' at the road in front of the car. Analysis of the data from the sensor allowed a processing unit to identify the upcoming terrain - for example, if it was smooth or undulating - and adjust the stiffness of the front and rear dampers to the most appropriate setting.
It didn't overlook what the driver was doing at the time, either; the central processing unit also made use of other inputs - including information from the brakes, engine and steering - in order to constantly tailor the suspension to its optimal mode. The range of adjustments was relatively limited, mind, with the control unit simply switching between soft, medium and firm configurations.
Supersonic Suspension System.
The Supersonic option was soon made available in myriad models, including the 1986 Leopard and 1988 Cefiro - which also received speed-sensitive four-wheel steering, along with the sonar-based suspension hardware, in an equipment combination dubbed 'Duet-SS' by Nissan.
In any instance, according to reviews of the system when it was new, it had the desired effect - with it reputedly improving both handling and comfort, particularly on uneven roads. Nissan had even accounted for it potentially packing up, with all the shocks simply defaulting to a medium stiffness if an error occurred.
So, while clearly not as advanced as the Mercedes system - with a shorter range, lower accuracy, fewer suspension adjustments and less processing power - it's fair to say that Nissan's sonar-based suspension system was truly the first to take into account 'the road ahead'.