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Detroit show: Benz E-Class fast-tracks S-Class tech

E-whizz: A new dual-camera safety system enables the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class to detect hazards from oncoming and crossing traffic.

Facelifted Mercedes-Benz E-Class beats S-Class flagship to the punch on technology


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13 Dec 2012

MERCEDES-BENZ has taken the unusual step of introducing 11 hi-tech new features on its heavily-revised E-Class luxury sedan and wagon line-up before it has even revealed the next-generation S-Class limousine flagship – a model that has traditionally been first with the gadgets.

The facelifted E-Class sedan and wagon will be launched in Australia in mid-2013 following next month’s world debut at the Detroit motor show, while the S-Class – plus E-Class coupe and cabriolet variants – will be launched in the fourth quarter.

As reported, images of the restyled exterior and more premium-looking interior were leaked earlier this week, ahead of today’s official announcement.

A suite of new driver aids and safety features – which Benz calls ‘intelligent drive’ – use dual digital cameras positioned near the interior mirror, working in tandem with an upgraded, multi-stage radar system.

The upgrade to two cameras, each set at a 45-degree angle with a vision range of up to 500 metres, means that oncoming and crossing vehicles can be monitored from about 50 metres, along with pedestrians, traffic signs and vehicles directly ahead as before.

A three-dimensional view of the road ahead is processed and assessed using algorithms that detect and classify objects as well as monitoring their movement.

The updated radar system brings standard autonomous emergency braking to the E-Class sedan and wagon range, reducing the chance of rear-end accidents.

A driver fatigue detection system with adjustable sensitivity also becomes standard, and has been upgraded to warn of inattentiveness and drowsiness across a wider speed range, inform the driver about their level of fatigue and how long they have been driving since their last break.

Anti-glare adaptive headlights enable high-beam to be permanently activated by directing the light away from oncoming traffic.

An upgraded lane-keeping assistance feature detects if the next lane is occupied, monitors for oncoming traffic and when the risk of a collision is detected, applies the brakes on one side to prevent the vehicle from veering out of its lane.

Road sign recognition has also been boosted to detect and display the beginning and end of no-overtaking zones and access restrictions.

Mercedes-Benz Cars Australia/Pacific (MBA) corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis explained that although the new technology features will be publicly revealed on the E-Class before the S-Class, both cars will be launched at a similar time in Europe.

He agreed that while the S-Class traditionally debuts new technologies, Mercedes-Benz is democratising the application of safety aids by applying them to less expensive models sooner.

“We have got a different approach toward releasing safety technology for a broader range of cars as we have shown with the A-Class and B-Class,” he said.

Under the re-profiled new E-Class bonnet, efficient new 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines will replace the outgoing 1.8-litre units and a new E400 variant will debut a 3.0-litre bi-turbo petrol V6 pumping out 245kW and 480Nm – good for 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds.

Although it is too early to confirm Australian E-Class specifications, Mr Stamoulis told GoAuto the local line-up would broadly resemble the current range, with all-wheel-drive 4Matic variants remaining off the agenda.

However, he said the new E400 was “very high on our list” for addition to the range and, as reported, the diesel-electric E300 Hybrid variant – claimed to consume just 4.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres – is also confirmed for Australia.

The outgoing Australian petrol E-Class line-up is comprised of the four-cylinder E200 and E250, the V6 E350 and the V8 E500.

In E200 guise, the facelifted car maintains a 135kW power output but torque is lifted 30Nm to 300Nm and combined cycle fuel consumption drops from 6.6L/100km to 5.8L/100km (sedan figures shown).

The new E250 shares its 155kW/350Nm power and torque outputs with the recently introduced B250, picking up 5kW and 40Nm over the outgoing model to trim the 0-100km/h sprint by three tenths to 7.4 seconds while matching the new E200’s fuel consumption.

There is no change to the performance figures of the E350 or E500 but fuel consumption of the 3.5-litre V6 has plummeted from 8.5L/100km to 6.8L/100km and the 4.7-litre V8 is a whole litre less thirsty at 8.9L/100km.

Figures for the bahn-storming E63 AMG are yet to be released.

The current local diesel E-Class line comprises the 2.1-litre four-cylinder E220 CDI and E250 CDI plus the 3.0-litre V6 E350 CDI.

Four-cylinder diesels carry over their performance figures but with fuel consumption trimmed half a litre on the E220 CDI to 4.7L/100km and three tenths on the E250 CDI to 4.8L/100km.

Torque output of the 3.0-litre V6 in the E350 CDI remains at 620Nm but power has dropped 10kW, resulting in 0-100km/h coming up four tenths slower than before at 6.6 seconds, while fuel consumption has reduced from 6.1L/100km to 5.5L/100km.

Updated suspension on the facelifted E-Class – with four choices including air springs – is claimed to improve handling and ride comfort.

The application of electro-mechanical power steering with variable assistance and ratio helps save fuel, improve agility and enable the addition of self-parking technology.

An optional hands-free automatic boot lid that can be opened by placing a foot under the bumper will become available and the upgraded interior, which reflects the coupe-styled CLS-Class, has a more upmarket look plus more on-board infotainment technology such as the latest Comand APS system with internet access with apps such as Google search, Google Maps and Google Street View.

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