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Mercedes-Benz E-Class a tech master class

02.06.2016

It’s crazy to believe that the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is already in its tenth generation, with over thirteen million of these iconic vehicles being sold around the world since the original W120 of 1953. I recently had an opportunity to drive the newest E-Class, down in KwaZulu Natal, where I discovered that an enormous amount of effort has been put in to making this the most technically advanced car within its segment.

The looks

The E-Class has always been a bit of an awkward one for the brand to get right, the C-Class has always looked good and so has the S-Class however the E has somehow always been the ugly duckling. Again, with this E-Class, it comes off as slightly bland, with many design queues from the C-Class, just made bigger. There is an argument to be made that the vehicle looks understated and therefore luxurious and I suppose that’s acceptable however for me, it looks a bit too sanitised for a modern Mercedes.

Interior tech fest

Inside is where things get interesting, you see, if you have pockets deep enough, you can specify your E-Class to have the very latest in infotainment, safety and driverless technology. There are three sizes that you can specify your infotainment screen to, ranging from 8.4 inches to over 14 inches for the virtual instrument display which really transforms the interior in to something special. The massive screen is customisable and provides the driver with a widescreen layout.

Technology options

To give you some indication of the type of technology available there’s a system called Drive Pilot, which will follow the car in front of you at a safe distance from low speed up until 130 km/h while also steering (even if the road has no visible markings) for you to ensure that you remain in the correct lane. Fall asleep at the wheel? Well I hope not but if you do the system will audibly warn you and try wake you, if this is unsuccessful the car will slow to a halt, engaging the hazard lights when reaching 60km/h.

There is also an automated parking system that, much like other systems seen before, will park itself. However this system is a bit different, when South Africa complies with this technology by 2017 you will be able to remote park your E-Class, as in, stand outside your E-Class and tell it to park. There is also the option, with the use of an app, to turn your smartphone in to a car key. The car can be opened using Near Field Communication (NFC). The NFC system will also allow you to wirelessly charge your smartphone in the car and also pair your car with the phone without your intervention. There is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility which actually works,  a first for South Africa.

There is also an optional advanced lighting system called Adaptive LED Matrix lighting that makes use of 84 LEDs which are individually controlled and make the high and low-beam switch quite a doddle, without blinding other drivers. The lights also make use of the cars onboard cameras to ascertain when you are taking a corner, meaning the lights will be ready to turn around the corner before you are.

Model range

For now there are just three models available however there will be more models (including a hybrid) added at a later stage while two AMG models (the E43 AMG and E63 AMG) both with 4Matic all-wheel drive are set to grace our shores in the not too distant future.

What about driving?

Well, we completed a 400km highway loop so I cannot report much about dynamics as the cars pretty much drove themselves however the three engines available were all impressive in their own right. There’s a new small diesel motor (thankfully) with 143kW/400Nm in the E220d while the other two units in the E350d and E200 are familiar from other Mercedes models.

Verdict

With not too much emphasis on driving I didn’t have much of an opinion on the car however from the little that I did gather it was comfortable enough and well put together. On the technology front the car is very impressive however, those items come at a cost, one that you can configure on the Mercedes-Benz website, and it scared me a little bit. We will delve more in to the depths of this car, as a car, in our upcoming road evaluation.

Pricing

Mercedes-Benz E200 R707 100 (available Oct 2016)

Mercedes-Benz E220d R759 100

Mercedes-Benz E350d R946 300

Article written by Sean Nurse
02.06.2016
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