MOTORING | As cars become increasingly smarter, it was inevitable that they’d close the ‘intelligence gap’ to modern marvels such as the Airbus A380 superjumbo.
And in the case of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, that’s entirely appropriate – given that this sophisticated four-door sedan boasts what you might consider to be its own auto-pilot.
With a few taps of an iPhone or Android app the new E-Class will start up its engine, unlock doors and roll out of the garage to greet you in the morning.
En route, a double-tap of the cruise control paddle activates ‘pilot’ mode to keep a safe distance from the car just in front.
Tap the indicator stalk and the E-Class will check for adjacent traffic and, if there’s a sufficiently safe gap, move smoothly into the adjacent lane.
At the end of your journey it can nimbly reverse-park itself hands-free into a spot with less than a metre to spare.
(It’s technically possible to have the E-Class do this while you stand outside the car, smartphone in hand, however local legislation prevents Mercedes-Benz Australia from activating this feature).
But despite being ringed by a sophisticated array of ultrasonic sensors and radar senders, navigation aides and cameras, the E-Class doesn’t pretend to be a self-driving car.
Instead, it lends its smarts to make the driver’s lot easier – both by taking care of mundane chores, and remaining on alert and ready to step in for those moments when reactions must be measured in split seconds.
Pedestrians who blithely and blindly jaywalk, eyes glued to their smartphone, should be grateful that the E-Class can automatically brake for them or even help steer around them.
Meanwhile, inside your E-Class cocoon, a pair of 12.3 inch screens stretch across two-thirds of the panoramic digital dashboard, which is thankfully anchored in the analog world by a luxe palette of wood, metal and leather.
Other creature comforts include extra-thick windows which quell road noise to a low hum and an inductive charging pad for compatible smartphones.
The longer wheelbase of this tenth generation of the E-Class not only delivers more room but a sportier silhouette, with influences of its S-Class and C-Class siblings.
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class starts at $89,990 (excluding on-road and dealer costs) for the E 200 with its two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
The diesel-powered E 220 lists at $92,900, while the upmarket E 350 d rolls together a three-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 20 inch AMG wheels, a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, heads-up display, heated front seats and panoramic glass sunroof for $134,900.
Still to come is the all-new hybrid E 350 e, which partners a four-cylinder petrol engine with a powerful electric motor.
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