17 Aug 2016 | 10.32 am
Roadtest: Mercedes E-Class 220 AMG
It’s the most ‘intelligent’ car Mercedes has ever produced
17 Aug 2016 | 10.32 am
The new Mercedes E-Class can change lanes automatically if you ask it nicely, writes Olive Keogh.
The idea of shopping or watching re-runs of Frasier while your car drives itself up the motorway might sound like something from the future. It’s not. The technology to do it is available now. What’s holding it up is legislation and infrastructure. In the meantime carmakers are itching to showcase their self-driving credentials, and a limited menu of autonomous features will be in our cars by 2020 if not before. Indeed some features are already there, such as self-parking.
So what’s all of this got to do with the new Mercedes E-Class? Well according to Mercedes, it’s the most ‘intelligent’ car they’ve ever produced and the one that’s closest to providing full autonomous driving at this point.
The new E-Class is even more advanced than the company’s flagship S-Class because it can change lanes by itself. This cutting edge technology is called Active Lane-change Assistant, and to activate the system the driver simply touches the turn indicator and the radar plus camera-based system automatically steers the car into the chosen lane if it’s safe to do so.
Other smart features on the E-Class include remote parking or maneouvering via a smartphone. This is a very useful feature if space is tight or someone has parked too close to your vehicle. The new E-Class also has super effective LED lights and can be ordered with not one but two 12.3-inch wide display screens and with twin touch pads to navigate menus without having to take your hands off the wheel.
Add to this a blockbuster safety spec, a long list of comfort features, a classy interior and a hushed, easy driving experience and the newcomer ticks just about every box an executive buyer could want.
The new E-Class takes its styling cues from the larger S-Class and its previously angular lines have been dialled down to create a much softer, sleeker profile. The E-Class is available in three style and equipment lines: Avantgarde, Exclusive and AMG. Mercedes in Ireland has added €7,000 worth of what used to be extras to the entry Avantgarde model as standard. These include Parktronic parking assist, heated front seats, full leather upholstery, reversing camera and satellite navigation.
The test car came with almost €20,000 in extras. They included wireless charging (a snip at €369) and a technology pack that costs €5,488. For this you get features such as a head-up display and a premium infotainment system called Comand that includes a mobile internet connection.
On a practical note, the new E-Class has more legroom than its predecessor, the head clearance in the back is good and there’s a generous 540-litre boot with good access. The all-new 2.0 litre diesel engine on board is sprightlier than the engine it replaces (the 250d) and it’s way quieter. Smooth, capable and refined at cruising speeds, it will happily raise its game if you ask for a burst of acceleration.
It’s not overstating the case to say that we are on the verge of a motoring revolution and that Mercedes is at the vanguard. That said, there’s still something reassuringly familiar and reliable about an E-Class. It has long been the choice of professionals and senior managers and without or without the self-driving gymnastics this latest version is not going to disappoint them.
Model: Mercedes E-Class 220 AMG automatic
Engine: 1950cc diesel, 194bhp
Safety: Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive braking with hill start assist, nine airbags, agility control suspension, driving mirror obstacle warning, HD reversing camera
Fuel consumption: 4.3-3.9L/100km combined
Verdict: Sleek, sophisticated technology leader