Mercedes-Benz makes a big leap toward self-driving cars with the new E class, which debuts a hands-free lane-changing function that even the brand's S-class flagship does not offer yet. Among premium brands only Tesla offers something comparable.
The latest-generation E class is the "most intelligent Mercedes" to date, said Christoph von Hugo, the brand's head of active safety and assistance systems.
To use the so-called "active lane-change assistant" the driver touches the turn indicator for two seconds, then the radar- and camera-based system automatically steers the car into a lane to the right or left if it is safe to do so. The system will be added to all of Mercedes' larger cars, including the S class, as the models are refreshed.
Among other innovations, the E class is the fifth Mercedes model with a plug-in hybrid variant. The E 350 e combines a four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor that offers 30km of emissions-free driving.
The E class also debuts the brand’s latest downsized diesel, an all-aluminum 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit that is 17 percent lighter than the 2.2-liter engine it replaces, but also more powerful with 195hp, up from 170hp. Inside the car Mercedes claims the touch-button controls on each side of the steering wheel are a global technology debut. The buttons allow the driver to operate the instrument cluster display or the infotainment system while keeping his or her hands on the steering wheel.