The new Mercedes E-class is too clever for puny humans
Restyled lights look friendly, but underneath this is your new robot overlord
Germans don’t normally do big facelifts. Change a bit of trim, add eight new shades of grey to the colour palette and boom, job done. So it’s nice to see Mercedes has put a bit of effort into the E-Class’s mid-life facelift, which was supposed to be revealed at this week’s now non-existent Geneva Motor Show.
Sure it looks slightly different, most obviously from the back, but the story here is the tech, which is clever as it gets anywhere in the industry. The latest version of Merc’s driver assistance tech is present and correct in the new E-Class, including adaptive cruise control that can slow the car based on online reports of traffic ahead, as well as for motorway slip roads, roundabouts, toll booths and so-on. Then there’s the blind-spot monitoring system that works even after you’ve switched the car off, so you don’t door passing cyclists, and more effective automatic breaking in the event of a possible/imminent collision.
A new steering wheel features capacitive sensors in the rim, so the driver doesn’t have to make small steering inputs to let the car know they’re still paying attention. Looks good too, though we reserve the right to be sceptical about the touch-sensitive buttons. The little swipy pads on the old car’s wheel were bad enough.
Said buttons control, among other things, the latest MBUX infotainment system, here displayed on two 12.3-inch widescreens (10.25-inches as standard). The centre one responds to touch, voice or trackpad control, and features augmented reality sat-nav as debuted in the A-Class. There’s even a ‘Power Nap’ function, which helps you fall asleep while you’re waiting for your PHEV to charge.
Yep – the E-Class will be available with many engines. Seven models will be plug-in hybrids, while some others will have 48-vold mild-hybrid tech and integrated starter-generators. Power will range from 154bhp to 362bhp for petrols, and 158bhp to 325bhp for diesels, though we’d hope the V8-engined E63 will return at some point with something over 600bhp.
For now, the most interesting E will be the new E53, which uses a 3.0-litre straight-six with one normal turbo and an Audi SQ7-style electric compressor for 435bhp, and 0-62mph in around 4.5 seconds.
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