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|Mercedes E Class
Impeccable Safety, Comfort, Quality
If There Was More Pizzazz, It Wouldn’t Be An E Class
Face-Lift Will Fool Prying Paparazzi; Changes Are All Under The Skin
“Look At Me, I’m Speeding”
**** out of 5
It’s just as well that there are no speed cops on the roads anymore, because if there were, buyers of the new Mercedes E class would be incriminating themselves with a unique device which says “Look at me, I’m speeding.”
The newly face-lifted Mercedes E class is dripping with imaginative high technology gizmos, one of which has the unintended consequence of drawing attention to the fact that the car is breaking the speed limit.
If you opt for the Intelligent Light System, you will find improved illumination on country roads, or when cornering. Also, when you switch on a directional indicator, the lighting will power up for the direction you are turning; the fog-lights will highlight the edges of roads. And here’s the rub; if you exceed 70 mph on a motorway “the range of the nearside headlamp is also increased, producing a uniform cone of light, which illuminates the entire road width to a range of up to 120 yards/metres”.
“This means that vehicles or objects in the distance can be recognised across the entire width of the road, and at the centre of the cone of light the driver is able to see around 50 yards/metres further than with conventional low beams,” says Mercedes.
Magistrates will sympathise
The new E class has lots of other great safety ideas with no hidden consequences. The Pre-Safe system recognises potential danger by tightening up front seat belts, starting to close windows and the sunroof and returning electric seats to positions to optimise the effectiveness of airbags. If airbags are deployed, the windows are automatically opened to ventilate the cabin and door locks released. Adaptive braking means if the driver presses the brake pedal a little further once the car has stopped, the brakes will act as if the handbrake has been engaged. Brake lights flash if the system detects more vigorous than usual braking.
According to Mercedes, the new E class has about 2,000 new parts compared with the old one. That may well be so, but when you look at the new car you will be able to spot few differences compared with the previous model. Because of the 2,000 new parts, traditional buyers will be breathing a sigh of relief, because the previous model was unprecedentedly unreliable, leading to a plunge in Mercedes’ performance in the U.S. J.D.Power reliability ratings.
Mercedes hit a pothole
Mercedes owners were being frustrated by problems like faulty key fobs, leaky sunroofs and dodgy electronics that were leaving them stranded, according to “Fortune”. The problems were so widespread that there were even websites like www.troublebenz.com, www.lemonmb.com and www.mercedesproblems.com set up by frustrated Mercedes owners (they are still there if you’d like to look). A survey by J.D.Power ranked Mercedes quality as much worse than average, at 26th and behind GM’s blue-collar Oldsmobile brand.
Since then, Mercedes has improved reliability and J.D.Power ratings have improved.
The troubled electronic braking system on the old model has been replaced with a conventional set up. Engines have always been a strong suit for Mercedes and of the 10 engines available for the new E class, six are new or enhanced power-plants developing up to 26% more power. Engines range from the entry level 1.8 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine to the top of the range 6.2 litre 8-cylinder motor in the E63AMG. My choice would be the E320 CDI with a 3.0 litre V6 diesel.
Not only does the car look almost identical to the old one, all its old good habits have been retained. It is very comfortable and quiet. It oozes down motorways with the minimum of fuss and maximum stability. Blasting the car around the test track at the new Mercedes Centre in Brooklands, Surrrey, the new E class turned into corners with more verve than the old one and sat flat on the road, where the old one might have dipped and rolled. The interiors are impeccable. No doubt the E-class will retain its value as well as the old one.
If only it looked a bit more exciting; but I suppose Mercedes has been amazingly successful without resorting to such tacky tactics.
Neil Winton August 31, 2006
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