It comes with a fragrance dispensing system borrowed straight from the S-Class.
Shortly after coming out with the Mercedes-Benz Tourismo RHD, Daimler has another all-new bus to showcase. This time around, it comes from Setra and takes the shape of a double-decker with a segment-leading drag coefficient of 0.35. Buses will forever and ever be boxy in order to maximize space inside the cabin, but even so the advancements made in aerodynamics are making them sleeker and sleeker with each new generation. It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say it’s as aerodynamic as a Focus RS (also with a Cd of 0.35), but even comparing the two is an achievement in its own right.
While it’s a tricky job to try and make a box on wheels look nice, Setra has found a way to give the new S 531 DT a really cool design, especially in this “Viola Pyxis” shade. Sure, it’s no Jaguar E-Type, but it might just be the E-Type of double-deckers. We’re exaggerating to prove a point, of course. The new 14-meter bus belongs to the TopClass 500 family and offers seating for up to 83 passengers along with their luggage thanks to a gargantuan cargo capacity of 8.4 cubic meters (296 cubic feet). It features everything you could ever imagine to see in such a large vehicle, from a kitchenette and a washroom to numerous underfloor stowage compartments and a toilet compartment.
Double-decker drivers will be happy to hear there will be fewer visits to the fuel station should they have the privilege of getting behind the wheel of Setra’s latest gem. That’s because the capacity of the diesel tanks has been enlarged from 510 to 540 liters compared to the previous S 431 DT, which has been in service since 2002. There’s room for an optional tank providing an extra 170 liters or even 270 liters for those really long journeys. These upgrades were possible by moving the main switch panel for the electrics next to the entrance at the front on a sliding base while the compressed air tanks have been relocated below the driver’s platform and in the section of the rear axles. The spaces freed up on the left side of the bus have now been occupied by the diesel tanks.
Setra has done the math and estimates the S 531 DT will save approximately 3,000 liters of fuel compared to its predecessor if driven annually for 100,000 kilometers (62,137 miles). This will be possible not just thanks to its more fluid shape, but also because of the latest six-cylinder, 12.8-liter diesel engine producing 510 horsepower (375 kilowatts) and 2,500 Newton-meters (1,843 pound-feet) of torque from just 1,100 rpm.
Another ace up its sleeve is a feature borrowed straight from the Mercedes S-Class. An optional fragrance dispensing system kicks in when the bus’ ignition is turned on and one of the doors is left open. The logic behind this is to make sure those boarding the double-decker will be greeted by one of the six perfumes available.
Having to carry 83 passengers, it goes without saying safety is of utmost importance. Setra’s new S 531 DT is actually the first bus in the world to boast Active Brake Assist 4 brakes with pedestrian detection. Not only does it alert the driver of an imminent impact with a pedestrian, but it also automatically applies the brakes. Its long-distance radar mounted at the front can spot any obstacles up to a distance of 250 meters (820 feet) while pedestrians are spotted up to a distance of 80 meters (262 feet). As for motorcycles, mopeds, and cyclists, the radar will notice them from a maximum distance of 160 meters (524 feet).
Another first in the bus segment is the Sideguard Assist borrowed from Mercedes’ trucks and can be shortly described as a clever blind spot system. It warns the driver whenever something is going on the bus’ sides while making a turn or changing lanes.
The new Setra double-decker builds upon the success of three previous generations kicking off with the S 228 DT launched back in 1981. Since then, combined sales have racked up more than 4,000 units.