Cars - Mercedes Benz

Road tests and reviews of the latest Mercedes Benz models available in South Africa

2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

By Franky Johnson

The new 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon has just been launched in South Africa and is something of a technological marvel, pushing the boundaries of how luxurious and technologically advanced a car can be.

This new E-Class also introduces numerous technical innovations that enable comfortable, safe driving on a new level plus a new dimension in driver assistance. The vehicle comes complete with infotainment and control systems, which offers an all-new experience.

The design of the new E-Class, although all-new is still unmistakably Mercedes-Benz, with the elongated bonnet coupled with a coupé-style roof flowing into a broad-shouldered tail end, short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large wheels and taut well-defined flanks.

Viewed from the front the base version features the classic Mercedes-Benz radiator grille with the star on the bonnet, as does the EXCLUSIVE line, while the AVANTGARDE and AMG Line models are identifiable by the sports radiator grille with a large Mercedes-Benz star as its centrepiece.

At the rear end, the single-piece tail lights feature a two-bar design, framed by the vehicle body, clearly identify the E-Class as a new member of the Mercedes-Benz sedan family. Optionally, the tail lights provide an additional highlight reminiscent of stardust, the Milky Way or the glow of a jet engine.

Inside the E-class fully upholds Mercedes’ reputation for comfort and luxury, and interior space includes excellent head room and leg room for both the front and back seats, and it comfortably accommodates five adults. The rear bench seat in the new E-Class Saloon comes with the option of a three-piece backrest with a 40% - 20% - 40% split, making it exceptionally versatile.

Integral features of the centre armrest include a stowage box and two pop-out drinks holders. There is also the option of a holder for a tablet for the rear passengers. In terms of cargo space, the E-Class sedan has a large roomy boot and will easily swallow all your drag queen best friend's luggage when going on holiday.

Optional extras include two brilliant next-generation high-resolution displays, each with a wide screen diagonal of 31cm. Beneath their shared glass cover, the two displays visually conflate into a wide-screen cockpit that seems to be hovering in thin air. As the instrument cluster, this wide-screen cockpit contains a large display with virtual instruments in the direct field of vision of the driver as well as a central display above the centre console.

The driver can choose between three different styles to select their preferred look for the wide-screen instrument cluster: "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive". As the entire cockpit is fully digital, the driver is free to configure the information and views of relevance for them and thus create their own personal cockpit.

Another first for Mercedes is the steering wheel with touch-sensitive Touch Controls, which, like a smartphone interface, responds to horizontal and vertical swiping movements, allowing the driver to control the entire infotainment system using finger swipes without having to take their hands off the steering wheel, which allows minimum driver distraction.

Further controls for the infotainment system are provided in the shape of a Touchpad with Controller in the centre console, which can even recognise handwriting, and the LINGUATRONIC voice control system. There are also direct-access buttons for controlling functions such as the air-conditioning system, or for convenient activation and deactivation of certain driving assistance systems.

Also new is the intelligent graphic design with high-resolution visualisations and animations, together with a simplified logic, which further enhances this all-new operating experience.

The interior lighting makes exclusive use of durable, energy-saving LED technology. The same applies to the enhanced ambient lighting included in the lines. With 64 colours, it offers a host of possibilities for personalisation. It adds touches of light, for example, to the trim parts, central display, front stowage facility on the centre console, handle recesses, door pockets, front and rear foot wells and overhead console.

At launch buyers of the new E-Class have a choice of three new engines – a four-cylinder petrol unit for the E-200, an all-new four-cylinder diesel engine in the E220d and a six-cylinder diesel engine in the E 350 d. Towards the end of the year Mercedes will introduce the 155 kw E 250 and the six-cylinder petrol E 400 4MATIC with 245 kW and 480 Nm of torque.

The all- new 1 991 cc turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine powering the E-200 produces 135 Kw and 300 Nm of torque with an average fuel consumption figure of 5.9 litres per 100kms.

The all-new 1 950cc diesel unit as fitted to the E 220 d is shorter and more compact than its predecessor, and despite having a lower displacement, produces 143 kW and 400 Nm of torque and is said to use from 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres in the NEDC combined consumption cycle, with CO2 emissions from 112 grams per kilometre. According to Mercedes figures it will accelerate from 0 to 100 km in just 7.3 seconds.

At the top of the present range is the 2 987 cc six-cylinder turbo-diesel unit in the E 350 d. It develops 190 kw and a healthy 620 Nm and will cover the 0 to 100 km dash in just 5.9 seconds. Average fuel consumption is given as 5.1 litres per 100kms and a co2 rating of 144 g/km.

All engines for the new E-Class are equipped with the ECO start/stop function and all models available at market launch come standard with the new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission. The new version offers faster gear changes and allows low engine revs, for a particularly beneficial effect on efficiency and noise levels.

Also standard the E-Class has up to 11 airbags, a rearview camera and parking sensors. An available surround-view camera is a safety upgrade that can see obstacles near the car in any direction at parking lot speeds and Attention Assist, which monitors steering-wheel activity and other inputs for attentiveness and suggests a coffee stop when it senses a drowsy driver; blind-spot monitors; adaptive cruise control; automatic headlamps; and night vision. Beyond those now-conventional features, the E-Class offers a full suite of active safety technology...

The optional Pre-Safe Impulse Side system adds radar units to the front corners of the car and inflatable bladders in the outboard bolsters of the front seats, which can predict an imminent side-impact collision and inflate the bladders—without damaging the seat—two-tenths of a second prior to impact - pushing the occupant inward, away from the B-pillar and the intruding car.

Then there’s the extended Driving Assistance package with DRIVE PILOT, Distance Pilot DISTRONIC, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and PRE-SAFE PLUS.

New Parking Pilot functions including Remote Parking Pilot available from next year. AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension, Ambience lighting with 64 colours, MULTIBEAM LED headlamps each with 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs and adaptive High beam Assist PLUS and tail lights with stardust effect and multi-level functionality.

Mercedes-Benz’s new nine-speed automatic transmission, as fitted to the launch cars, mates well with all the engines. Used in Comfort mode, there was a slight hesitation to full-throttle kick-downs, but a switch to Sport and Sport+ modes takes care of that and the auto box makes perfectly timed, seamless downshifts in normal driving.

Pricing

Prices for the new Mercedes Benz E Class start at R707 100 for the E 200, R759 100 for the E 220 d and R946 300 for the E 350 d. These prices exclude the options but include Mercedes Premium Drive maintenance contract for six years / 100 000kms.

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