Compared with existing Mercedes vehicles, the semiautonomous driving features in the coming E class have sharper steering inputs, leading to longer periods in which the driver can go without hands on the wheel. That could stretch from 10 seconds today to as long as 60 seconds with the advances, a company source said.
Some features, such as active lane-change assistance and a remote parking feature, are being offered by the automaker for the first time. The launch of these features, however, will depend on the regulatory environment of the various markets.
The newest semiautonomous driving features include:
Active Lane-change Assist: It helps the driver change lanes on multilane roads. After a driver has indicated a turn for at least two seconds, a radar-and-camera based system can steer the vehicle into an adjacent lane if it detects that the lane is unoccupied.
Remote Parking Pilot: It moves the vehicle into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely using a smartphone app, matching a feature BMW debuted on the 7 series last year.
Car-to-X communication: Enabled by mobile phones, the E class can exchange information with other vehicles farther ahead on the road, allowing the driver to effectively “see around corners” well in advance. Mercedes says it can help in the event of immediate danger such as black ice on the road or a broken-down vehicle ahead.
Car to X, more commonly called vehicle-to-X, or V2X, refers to “vehicle to anything,” a connected-car term for cars that communicate with other cars as well as infrastructure such as traffic lights. In this case, the new E class simultaneously acts as a receiver and a transmitter of data.
Mercedes unveiled the interior of the E class in December. It draws from the Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile design concept that the automaker showed in last September at the Frankfurt auto show. The interior boasts a wide, high-resolution dual display and newly designed touch-sensitive control buttons on the steering wheel that enable drivers to control vehicle functions without taking their hands off the wheel.
Mercedes says it will provide more about the system’s availability and capabilities at the time of its sales launch.
The E class' four-cylinder E 200 gasoline engine produces 184 hp and 300 newton meters of torque. The all-new four-cylinder diesel makes 195 hp and 400 newton meters of torque.
More powertrain variants will follow after launch such as a plug-in hybrid that matches a four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor. Mercedes said the E 350 e variant will have a combined output of 279 hp and 600 newton meters of torque while producing just 49 grams per kilometer of CO2 and consuming as little as 2.1 liters of fuel per 100km.
All E-class models available at launch will have the brand’s new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. Mercedes touts the nine-speed as more efficient and quieter with fast gearshifts and low engine revs while cruising.