E-Class is safest bet

It’s a big step for­ward in crunch con­trol, writes PAUL GOVER in Paris

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

THE ti­tle of world’s safest car has al­ready been claimed for 2009. The new, mid- sized E-Class Mercedes will set the stan­dard, com­pany safety chief Ul­rich Mellinghoff says.

‘‘With the new E-Class we have come to a new stan­dard,’’ he says. ‘‘It is not only a ques­tion about pas­sive safety, we also have a lot of new as­sis­tance sys­tems.

‘‘We have lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, lane as­sis­tance and next-level emer­gency brak­ing.’’

The new E will have to do well to trump the lat­est BMW 7 Se­ries, which ar­rives in Aus­tralia in March, be­cause the other Ger­man car­maker has done a top job on its flag­ship in­clud­ing a cam­era sys­tem that con­tin­u­ously up­dates speed lim­its, a sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion night-vi­sion sys­tem, and lane-de­par­ture and blindspot warn­ings.

But Benz will have its equip­ment in a car that will be more af­ford­able and says it will not give up its lead­er­ship on safety.

‘‘Our vi­sion is about ex­cel­lence in driv­ing. You can­not do only pas­sive safety sys­tems be­cause they do not pre­vent ac­ci­dents,’’ Mellinghoff says.

‘‘We started with the new S-Class and with the E we have helped the driver even more. With Mercedes-Benz safety is No.1 and ev­ery­thing else is No.2.’’

The de­sign of the forth­com­ing E-Class is re­flected in the Fas­ci­na­tion con­cept shown by Mercedes at the Paris show, even though the rad­i­cal tail-end treat­ment — more like a Bri­tish shoot­ing brake from the 1930s — will be re­served for the fu­ture CLK two-door and not used on the E sedan. One of the big­gest changes in the car is the new emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem, which in­ter­venes ear­lier and harder when the car de­tects an im­mi­nent col­li­sion to cut im­pact speed.

‘‘At 50km/h there is a risk of in­jury, but at 30km/h pas­sen­gers will not have any in­juries,’’ Mellinghoff says.

The car will be the first Mercedes with a py­rotech­nic bon­net, to cush­ion pedes­tri­ans in an im­pact.

‘‘The E-Class will have an ac­tive front hood. It will be the first with the sys­tem from Mercedes-Benz and the suc­ces­sor cars will all have it,’’ Mellinghoff says.

Shape of things to come: the Mercedes Benz Fas­ci­na­tion con­cept on dis­play at the Paris Mo­tor Show.

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