Easy E

The new E-Class is all about mak­ing life easy be­hind the wheel by in­tro­duc­ing the next step in driver as­sis­tance tech­nol­ogy. Damien O’Car­roll ex­pe­ri­ences it prior to its ar­rival here later in the year

NZ Autocar - - New Arrival -

“S o to­day you have a choice,” says the star­tlingly at­trac­tive women speak­ing to me in the foyer of the prob­a­bly-deeply­his­toric ho­tel on the wa­ter­front in the beau­ti­ful Por­tuguese city of Lis­bon. “Ei­ther the road loop or the race track. Which would you like to do?”

I take a sec­ond to process this, not just be­cause she is star­tlingly at­trac­tive, not just be­cause I am se­verely sleep­de­prived. No, I paused mainly be­cause of the na­ture of the of­fer. I was at the in­ter­na­tional launch of the MercedesBenz E-Class; a car that - de­spite its re­cent lo­cal his­tory in the Aussie V8 Su­per­car se­ries - is not nec­es­sar­ily known for its race­track prow­ess, so there­fore more road time would be FAR more use­ful for a real-world eval­u­a­tion.

The thing that gave me pause for thought, how­ever, was the lo­ca­tion. Por­tu­gal is home to the Au­to­dromo do Es­to­ril race cir­cuit, the site of Ayr­ton Senna’s first For­mula 1 win. And that was ex­actly the lo­ca­tion of the “track op­tion” of the star­tlingly at­trac­tive young lady’s of­fer.

I do have to ad­mit that the strong jour­nal­is­tic in­stinct to de­liver you, dear reader, the most ap­pro­pri­ate and ac­cu­rate report of a car in its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment gave me pause for thought for all of a few only too brief sec­onds, my des­per­ate de­sire to thrash lit­er­ally any­thing with four wheels and an en­gine around a deeply evoca­tive and fan­tas­ti­cally his­toric race track quickly won out.

So that is why I soon found my­self be­hind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz E 400 4MATIC sedan lis­ten­ing to the AMG ex­pert in a CLS 63 AMG up in front say calmly over the ra­dio “So... let’s go faster now...” as he ac­cel­er­ates ag­gres­sively down the pit straight of the cir­cuit that saw Niki Lauda clinch the 1984 cham­pi­onship by half a point over team mate Alain Prost.

While thrash­ing road cars around tracks usu­ally tells you lit­tle about


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