New Mercedes E-Class lands in SA

New Mercedes E-Class lands in SA

Durban – Mercedes-Benz is hailing the 10th generation of its E-Class ‘middle child’, released in South Africa this week, as its ‘most intelligent executive sedan yet’.

That’s a pretty sweeping statement, but it’s backed up by a new level of active driver assistance, a widescreen cockpit with double 31cm displays, finger-swipe touch controls for the infotainment set-up, complete smartphone integration including digital keying – and some very clever lighting.

But what of the car itself? The new E-Class is a little sleeker than its predecessor, 43mm longer at 4923mm overall on a 65mm longer wheelbase of 2939mm; the rest of its dimensions are identical or very nearly so.

It’s available at launch in South African in a three-model line-up – E200, E220d and E350d – with the E250, E400 4Matic, E43 AMG and E63 S AMG due to reach our shores late in 2016 or early in 2017.

The E200’s proven 1991cc turbopetrol four delivers 135kW and 300Nm in this application, launching it to 100km in 7.7 seconds at a nominal cost of 5.9 litres per 100km.

The E220d, however, has an all-new, all-aluminium two-litre turbodiesel replacing the previous 2.2, rated at 143kW and 400Nm, good enough for 0-100 in 7.3 seconds while burning a quoted 3.9 litres per 100km.

The E350d boasts a 2987cc V6 turbodiesel for which the maker claims 190kW and 620Nm, delivering a 0-100 sprint in 5.9 seconds and nominal fuel-consumption of 5.1 litres per 100km.

Each drives through a new nine-speed automatic transmission.

Steel suspension is standard, with three different systems of selective damping control available – agility control, agility control lowered by 15mm and dynamic control, also with ride height 15mm lower than standard. In addition, available for the first time in an E-Class is Mercedes’ famous ‘magic carpet’ multichamber air suspension, first seen on the current S-Class.

Drive Pilot

This is Stuttgart’s next step along the road to a car that drives itself; not only can it maintain an appropriate following distance at up to 210km/h and down to a dead stop in traffic, it can help you steer and stay in your lane at up to 130km/h even if it can’t read the road markings, by checking out landmarks along the way, and use traffic sign recognition or satnav to stay within the applicable speed limit.

It can spot slow-moving vehicles or pedestrians, help you evade them or hit the brakes if you ignore its warnings, stop the car if you stop actively driving, push you away from the door by inflating the seat bolster if it thinks you’re about to be T-boned on that side, and drive itself in and out of tight parking spots without anybody on board, so you can get in or out without having to wriggle – although that’ll only be available in 2017.

Halogen headlights are standard, options are two types of LED cluster – the more expensive one with 84 individual LEDS on each side, individually focused and individually switched by the car’s sensors so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic or the mirrors of vehicles ahead of you

Widescreen display

The optional digital instrument panels consists of two 31cm screens side by side, bringing together the driving controls and infotainment menus in a fully customisable display based on three default options – Classic, Sport and Progressive. Non-driving functions are controlled by a touchpad with controller on the centre console that can read both handwriting and swipes, or by voice control or even by touch-sensitive pads on the multifunction steering wheel (a first for a car, says Mercedes).

A recess at the bottom of the centre stack acts as a near-field communication hook-up for your smartphone as well as Qi-standard inductive charger.

The interior trim is on offer in a myriad shdes of leather and natural-look open-pored wood veneer – as well as piano black and aluminium – while the ambient lighting offers a choice of no less than 64 colours.

PRICES:

E200 – R707 100

E220d – R759 100

E350d – R958 300

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