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
“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