Mercedes E-Class

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - Contents -

We’re get­ting closer to a car that drives it­self, judg­ing from our first im­pres­sions of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class, one of the most tech­no­log­i­cally-ad­vanced cars on the road to­day. John Ox­ley re­ports.

Tak­ing your hands off the wheel, even for a few sec­onds, is scary, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing into a tight cor­ner. But you CAN do this with the new Merc E- Class – al­though it’s not rec­om­mended. Un­der ideal con­di­tions the car will con­tinue to fol­low the road mark­ings, but will switch off its Ac­tive Lane Keep­ing As­sist pro­gramme un­less you get a grip on the wheel pretty quickly.

And we say “ideal con­di­tions,” be­cause the on-board sen­sor cam­era bat­tles to read the lines if they’re ob­scured by stream­ing wa­ter, as they were at times dur­ing the Me­dia launch of the car in the Yarra Val­ley, out­side Mel­bourne.

In fact the func­tion isn’t re­ally de­signed for hands-free driv­ing at all, rather it’s an as­sis­tance sys­tem to make it eas­ier to steer around cor­ners, and you can feel it “help­ing” while you drive. And never fear, for those who pre­fer to be in con­trol of their cars at all times, it has to be ac­ti­vated – it’s not an au­to­matic func­tion.

But that was only one as­pect of the new E- Class that tick­led our fancy, among a whole plethora of new fea­tures.

More im­por­tant, though, was the fact that this dra­mat­i­cally-up­dated range is con­sid­er­ably lower-priced than that it re­places, with additional or re­place­ment mod­els which give the same or bet­ter per­for­mance and equip­ment for many thou­sands of dol­lars less.

Yet even though the core ve­hi­cle re­mains the same, Mercedes en­gi­neers have done a lot of work to bring it up to safety and tech­nol­ogy stan­dards that are in fact ahead of the cur­rent S- Class, and it has more than 2,000 new com­po­nents.

Ob­vi­ously the nose is all-new, and de­signed with pedes­trian pro­tec­tion in mind, as well as star­tlingly good looks, with “in­tel­li­gent” 37-LED head­lamps stan­dard. The sports pack­age is stan­dard, so we see new side sills and a twin ex­haust sys­tem at the back fea­tur­ing “night de­sign” tail lights, as well as bet­ter brakes, while the E- Class for New Zealand buy­ers comes with the Avant­garde in­te­rior pack­age as stan­dard.

And that in­te­rior, as we ex­pect from Mercedes-Benz, is high- class, fea­tur­ing black ash wood trim as stan­dard, al­though other trim op­tions are avail­able.

Mercedes is keen to point out the big leap for­ward in telem­at­ics on-board its new baby, with the lat­est Co­mand sys­tem able to seam­lessly con­nect with the In­ter­net via iPhone or An­droid smart phones, giv­ing ac­cess to Mercedes- de­signed apps for weather, Face­book, news, and Google street view, dis­played on a large screen in the dash.

There are five mod­els in the E Class sa­loon range, plus two wag­ons.

And it’s the petrol en­gines which have come in for most changes. All are Euro 6 com­pli­ant, and give more power yet bet­ter econ­omy, and all have the seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus au­to­matic gear­box.

And in one case, re­place­ment of a V8 with a V6 has re­sulted in a mas­sive price cut with­out los­ing out on per­for­mance or fea­tures. The new 245kW/480Nm petrol 3-litre E 400, which re­places the 4.7-litre E 500, comes in at $131,000, a huge $ 45,900 less than the E 500, and $12,900 less than the old E 350, which it also re­places. And it loses only 0.1 secs in the 0-100km/ h sprint against the V8! Plus fuel con­sump­tion ( and emis­sions) drops dra­mat­i­cally, from 9.9L/100km to 7.6.

For many people the spa­cious E- Class rep­re­sents the iconic Mercedes, and the ba­sic model is still a four- cylin­der. The E 250 now comes with a 155kW/ 350Nm twolitre turbo- charged di­rect in­jec­tion mo­tor, and com­bined fuel con­sump­tion drops to 6.4L/100km, while 0-100km/ h comes up in 7.4 sec­onds, both fig­ures bet­ter than the out­go­ing model. Price is un­changed at $114,000, but it gets ex­tra fea­tures with a value of $ 6,000.

The 2.1-litre E 250 CDI two-stage tur­bod­iesel, which continues un­changed with 150kW/150Nm ( com­bined fuel econ­omy 4.9L/100km), is priced the same, an in­crease of $ 4,100, but with ex­tra fea­tures val­ued at $ 8,000. These mod­els were both launched in June.

Sim­i­larly the E 350 CDI turbo- diesel shares its fea­tures with the E 400. No fig­ures are avail­able yet for this model, but both cars now get Ac­tive Park As­sist. This helps the driver park the car, where all the driver has to do is ac­cel­er­ate and se­lect drive or re­verse gear – the car does the steer­ing AND the brak­ing, the lat­ter a first. The E 400 launch date is Septem­ber, and the E 350 CDI Novem­ber.

There’s only one V8 in the NZ line-up, and that’s in the rum­bus­tious E 63 AMG S, with its 430kW/ 800Nm pow­er­house – 20kW more than be­fore – and lots of fea­tures which in­clude multi- con­tour seats and cli­ma­tised front seats. They blow hot or cold air up your back, depend­ing on what you fancy!

Again, pric­ing is keen com­pared to the out­go­ing model, a $ 53,750 sav­ing – and once more there are more fea­tures. Launch date is Septem­ber.

The E 250 CDI wagon, launched in June, comes in at $121,000, and in­cludes a third row seat as stan­dard. This is $1,900 less than the out­go­ing model, but there’s $15,000 worth of new fea­tures.

The E 400 es­tate, avail­able from Septem­ber, costs $137,900, $ 5,000 less than its pre­de­ces­sor, but with $ 25,000 of ex­tra fea­tures.

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