Test Drives - Mercedes E-class range
Mercedes sets out its executive car stall with the latest E-Class. Steve Walker takes a look
For a crash course in just how much technology it’s possible to cram into a modern car, you could do a lot worse than taking a guided tour of the latest Mercedes E-Class. Tick the right boxes and the E-Class can make sure you don’t drop off at the wheel, brake to avoid collisions, stop you wandering out of your lane, see in the dark, warn of vehicles in your blind spot and perform all manner of other handy functions completely off its own back.
The primary role of the E-Class is to represent its manufacturer in the executive car market. It’s a highly lucrative and fiercely competitive sector which also plays host to big hitters like Audis A6, BMWs 5 Series, Jaguars XF and the GS from Lexus.
Advanced technology is a must if a product is to prosper in this company but so is a certain understated style and an element of luxury. The fortunes of the E-Class will depend on how well it delivers in all these areas.
There’s usually some degree of carry over from the previous model in terms of engines but in the case of this E-Class, there’s surprisingly little.
It’s also revealing that the units that do continue largely unchanged are the V6 and V8 engines that power the quickest petrol models.
Mercedes models have traditionally taken a more comfort-orientated approach than BMWs and the latest E-Class looks to continue in that vein with its adaptive shock absorbers. These automatically adapt to the current driving situation softening or firming up to give optimum stability.
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The amount of technology shoehorned into the E-Class really is remarkable and the most eye-opening features are aimed at improving the car’s safety credentials. A camera on the windscreen detects approaching vehicles at night to modify the headlamps, the steering wheel vibrates when it senses the car is drifting out of its lane, you’re warned if there’s a car in your blind spot and it can tell if you’re falling asleep at the wheel.
Although many of the more advanced safety features are confined to the options list, the E-Class does come with nine airbags as standard and an active bonnet that raises up in the event of a collision to help protect pedestrians. The basic SE model also comes with 16" alloy wheels, a leather multi-function steering wheel, an eight speaker stereo with Bluetooth compatibility, a large central display screen to marshal the car’s various functions and the Advanced Parking Guidance system.
The lower end of the E-Class engine range has been a major focus in the development of the latest model with a particular view to maximising fuel economy.
Mercedes likes its E-Class to give a flavour of the current state of the art when it comes to car manufacturing and the latest model certainly has advanced technology at its heart. In terms of engine technology and safety features, it’s aiming to set a new standard in the executive car class and on first impressions, we wouldn’t bet against it achieving that goal.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Car: Mercedes E-class rangePrices: �26,325-�47,010 - on the roadInsurance groups: 15-18Co2 emissions: 159-261g/kmPerformance: (E500) 0-60mph 5.2s/ Max Speed 155mphFuel consumption: (E220 CDI) (urban) 34.9mpg / (extra urban) 60.1mpg / (combined) 47.1mpgStandard safety features: Nine airbags, ABS, ESP, Brake Assist, PRE-SAFE.Will it fit in your garage? Length/Width/Height (saloon), 4818/1822/1452mm