Cape Town - The tenth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class has arrived in South Africa.
The new E-Class ushers in a host of significant changes including a new four-cylinder diesel and styling elements of the C-Class and S-Class.
The most startling change is its technological advancements including a remote control parking function (it’s done via an APP!) and autonomous technology.
The middle-child of the Mercedes stable
More premium than the bread-and-butter C-Class though not as ostentatious (read: expensive) as the S-Class, the popular middle-child of the Mercedes-Benz sedan range is a premium sedan that’s more technological showcase than it is luxury vehicle.
The fact that it’s silky smooth on SA’s road is the proverbial icing on the exceptional sedan cake.
Priced to compete
The new E is available in South Africa in a three-model line-up - E200, E220d and E350d - with the E250, E400 4Matic, E43 AMG and E63 S AMG due to arrive locally later in 2016 or early in 2017.
The E-Class does not come cheap, but in the luxury car market its impressive list of standard tech and host of creature comforts makes it a seriously touch contender in its segment.
E200 - R707 100
E220d - R759 100
E350d - R958 300
Here’s 9 things you should know about Mercedes-Benz new E-Class in SA:
1 It has a great range of engine options
Mercedes-Benz’s familiar 2.0-litre petrol engine powers the the new E-Class. Developing a decent 135kW, the torque figure of 300Nm headlines what is a fantastic petrol unit. Performance-wise this engine propels the E-Class from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, while returning a claimed 5.9 litres/100km.
The diesel variants are comprised of a 2.0-litre- and a 3.0-litre V6 engine. The 2.0-litre develops 143kW/400Nm of torque, whilst the V6 churns out 190kW and a brutal 620Nm. Fuel consumption for both are rated at 3.9 litres/100km and 5.1 litres/100km, respectively.
Mercedes claims 0-100km/h sprint times for the diesels are 7.3sec for the E220d and 5.9sec for the E350d.
Standard on all models is Merc’s nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Expected in the fourth quarter of 2016 is the Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC. This all-wheel drive E-Class with its 245kW/480Nm will be the performer in the range - at least until the AMGs arrive in SA.
2 Customisable interior lighting
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sports a customisable interior. Drivers can individualise the inside of the E-Class with a choice of 64 colours are on offer to change the ambiance of the vehicle.
3 Class-leading, opulent interior
Step inside the new E-Class and you’re treated to all the exquisite trim and furnishings of the S-Class albeit the dashboard is more compact than the one featured in Mercedes' flagshig.
Its wood panelling, quality fabric, metallic adornments oozes opulence and wouldn’t look out of place on a luxury yacht. It’s possibly the best-looking interior in its class.
Standout features is its huge floating widescreen display. The new dashboard wraps around the cabin and frames the entire area from door to door. It's eye-wateringly gorgeous. Sitting behind the wheel of the new E and you’ll pick up on its class; there's a distinctive sense of quality, a Mercedes trademark made manifest with the latest E-Class. It’s a special car for the automaker, one that rivals the S-Class in technological prowess and opulence.
The interior is packed with LEDs that can be customised with a choice of 64 colours.
4 It has exceptionally absorbent suspension
In standard guise, the E-Class is silky smooth as it floats across pock-marked road surfaces with ease. Upgrade to Merc’s air suspension and the E-Class glides beautifully over undulations and irregular surfaces delivering a pillow-soft ride. The next-gen E-Class, like its predecessors, remains effortless to drive. Long-distance journeys are comfortable in the extreme and while it’s not the most engaging vehicle on a twisty mountain pass it’s controlled, safe and capable.
Engage Sport or Sport+ modes and E-Class bears its teeth with aggressive shifts, tweaked steering and hunkering its chassis on the road. The E-Class hugs the road adequately providing plenty of grip during a spirited drive but sadly, there's minimal feel through the steering wheel. You need to be mindful of its size at high speeds or you’ll rapidly approach the limits of its agility.
Gallery: 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-class is not a sporty car and is content to leave agility and handling prowess to sports cars. Instead, the E-Class ticks all the right boxes with regards to comfort, technology, safety and features.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class may lack the nimble characteristics of a 5 Series but it compensates with an exceptionally absorbent suspension. Given the condition of some of SA’s roads, the E-Class’ ability to remain poised and controlled could be life-saving especially in adverse weather conditions.
5 Optional Driver Assistance Package
The Driver Assistance Package boasts with numerous features that verges on the E-Class being an almost fully autonomous vehicle. This package will take precaution if it senses a side-crash and will move the driver and front passenger seats away from the danger to minimise injury. It also features intelligent lights that dims automatically and won’t blind oncoming drivers.
6 It might be too 'soft'
The E-Class is unmistakably Mercedes; class-leading in its comfort and technology though utlising a 'softly soft' strategy in its ride. Comfort and features are prioritised over outright road performance. Given its host of technologies and safety aids it’s unsurprising that driver involvement takes a back seat in the latest E-Class. This is somewhat mitigated by activating sport modes. Despite its potent straight-line performance it’s sadly less involving to drive than some of its rivals (e.g BMW 5 Series).
This doesn’t mean it’s not fun to drive, it definitely is, albeit if your idea of fun is a leisurely cruise along some of SA’s fantastic country roads. A focus on comfortable is Mercedes’ forte and its latest offering is soft where it needs to be and due to its ‘magic’ suspension never wallows. Brilliant.
7 Need help parking your E-Class? There’s an APP for that
Mercedes-Benz will launch its new 'Remote Parking Pilot' in SA, which allows for remote-controlled parking, ideal for tight spaces or garages. Though only available from December 2016, drivers can park their E-Class by using a smartphone app. This key-like application will steer the E-Class though you'll have to remain within close proximity of the vehicle.
Here’s how it will work:
8 Amazing features (and how they work)
Mercedes calls its E-Class a 'masterpiece of intelligence' and given a sample list of its features it's easy to see why:
• Drive pilot: this system allows for semi-autonomous driving. The E-Class can follow a vehicle in front, steer and brake at speeds of up to 210km/h.
• Active emergency stop assist is integrated into drive pilot and can brake the vehicle to a standstill in its lane if it detects that the driver is permanently no longer taking control while on the move.
• Active brake assist with cross-traffic function: it offers extended speed thresholds with regard to vehicles and pedestrians and can apply the brakes autonomously.
• Evasive steering assist: If the driver deliberately or instinctively initiates an evasive manoeuvre in a hazardous situation, this function can add precisely calculated steering torque to support the movement of the steering wheel.
• Remote parking pilot: this system allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely using a smartphone app. (Available in SA 2017)
• Pre-safe impulse side: If a lateral collision has been detected and is imminent, it can move the driver or front passenger away from the danger zone in a sideways direction by way of precaution.
• High-resolution Multibeam LED headlamps, each with 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs, automatically illuminate the road with a hitherto unsurpassed, precision-controlled distribution of exceptionally bright light – without dazzling other road users.
• Digital vehicle key: this drive authorisation system uses Near Field Communication (HFC) technology and allows the driver's smartphone to be used as a vehicle key (available from December 2016).
9 It faces tough competition
Despite its new design and technology upgrades, the E-Class faces stiff competition locally. Here are its biggest rivals: