By: IOL Motoring Staff
Detroit Motor Show – Following last week’s picture leak, Mercedes-Benz has now released all the low-down on its new E-Class, which the company boldly describes as “the most intelligent saloon in the business class”.
While designers played it safe to the point that the finished product pretty much resembles an enlarged C-Class – which is not necessarily a bad thing – the engineering team have moved the game forward with a raft of technological innovations that just about turn it into a self-driving car on the highway.
AUTO LANE CHANGE
The optional Active Lane-change Assistant literally changes lane for you once the radar and cameras have made sure there are no cars obstructing the piece of asphalt you’ve pointed to with the indicator.
This gadget forms part of the Drive Pilot active cruise control system that can now follow the vehicle ahead at speeds of up to 210km/h (something that Germans will find handy on the autobahns) and the Steering Pilot lends some steering assistance to the driver too, even in moderate bends.
SPACE AGE CABIN
The futuristic vibes continue with the optional adjoining 31.2cm high-res screens that appear to float in the air - one replaces the instrument cluster and the other is the infotainment hub. What’s more, the whole system can be operated through touch-sensitive control buttons on the steering wheel, which allow you to swipe like you would on a touch-screen.
Higher-quality materials lift the ambience inside, along with LED mood lighting in 64 colours, while cabin space has improved thanks to a 65mm stretch in the wheelbase.
The initial European range will offer just two engines, both turbo-charged 2-litre units, in the form of a 135kW/300Nm petrol in the E200 and an all-new 143kW/400Nm diesel in the E220d.
Fear not, the line-up will quickly expand to offer a range more powerful units. These include a 180kW four-cylinder turbopetrol and 245kW/480Nm six-cylinder turbopetrol as well as a 190kW/620Nm six-cylinder turbodiesel. The E63 AMG will no doubt power-slide its way onto the scene at some point too, sporting a more powerful version of Affalterbach's twin-turbo V8.
No luxury sedan line-up is complete without a hybrid these days and to that end, Mercedes will offer the E350 e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with system outputs of 205kW and 600Nm and an electric-only range of around 30km.
All engines, at launch at least, will be mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox, delivering power to the rear wheels in all but the 245kW E400, which gets all-wheel drive.
To keep the ride especially cushy, the new E-Class is available with multi-chamber air suspension, with all-round self-levelling.
The South African engine line-up and range specifications will be revealed closer to launch date, which is currently estimated to be around July this year.
E-CLASS ON VIDEO: