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Mercedes-Benz introduces new E-Class with PHEV version coming

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Mercedes-Benz introduced the 10th generation of its E-Class. The new sedans feature the world premiere of a number of technical innovations including additional driver assistance, infotainment and control systems.

The new E-Class will come with a choice of two engines at market launch: the E 200 with a four-cylinder gasoline engine and the E 220 d with an all-new four-cylinder diesel engine. Further model variants will be added to the range after the market launch, including the E 350 e plug-in hybrid. The E 350 e will deliver some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of all-electric range.

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Mercedes-Benz E 350 e plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Its four-cylinder gasoline engine, in conjunction with an electric motor, gives it a total system output of 210 kW (286 hp) with a system torque of 550 N·m. With this set-up, the E 350 e achieves the performance of a sports car yet consumes less fuel than a small, compact-class car: some 2.1 l/100 km (112 mpg US).

The most powerful diesel variant will feature a six-cylinder engine incorporating advanced SCR exhaust technology, with an output of 190 kW (258 hp) and a peak torque of 620 N·m. Another variant to join the range will be the E 400 4MATIC whose six-cylinder gasoline engine has an output of 245 kW (333 hp) and a maximum torque of 480 N·m.

Further variants will later complete the engine range, including a new four-cylinder diesel unit developing 110 kW (150 hp). The range of gasoline engines will comprise four-cylinder versions with outputs ranging from 135 to 180 kW (183 to 245 hp) plus a six-cylinder variant developing 245 kW (333 hp).

All engines for the new E-Class are equipped with the ECO start/stop function. The gasoline engines meet the requirements of the EU 6 emissions standard, while the new OM 654 four-cylinder diesel engine is already configured with future RDE limits in mind.

All models available at market launch are equipped with the new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard. It enables fast gear changes and allows low engine revs, which has a particularly beneficial effect on efficiency and noise levels.

New four-cylinder diesel engine. The new four-cylinder diesel unit marks the birth of a new Mercedes-Benz engine family and opens up new dimensions in efficiency. It is shorter and more compact than its predecessor thanks to reduced cylinder spacing (90 mm instead of 94 mm). Despite having a lower displacement than its predecessor, reduced to around two liters, the new diesel powerplant has an output of 143 kW/195 hp and, when installed in the E 220 d, delivers NEDC combined consumption of just 3.9 liters per 100 kilometers (60 mpg US), which equates to CO2 emissions of 102 grams per kilometer.

In addition to this, the four-cylinder unit is exceptionally refined. In its basic form it features single-stage turbocharging and variable turbine geometry. Both the cylinder head and the crankcase are made of aluminium. The Mercedes-Benz developed NANOSLIDE surface coating efficiently reduces the friction between cylinder surface and steel piston.

Robust yet lightweight bodyshell. An outstandingly stiff body forms the basis for exceptional handling, low noise and vibration levels, and a high level of crash safety. To achieve this, the engineers opted for a bodyshell with a far higher proportion of aluminium and ultra-high-strength steel components than its predecessor. The front wings, hood, trunk lid, and large sections of the front and rear ends are made of sheet or cast aluminium. This lightweight design reduces fuel consumption and makes for tangibly sporty and agile vehicle handling.

Aerodynamics. Aerodynamic performance is one of the main reasons behind the efficiency of the new E-Class. Here the E-Class raises the benchmark with a record-breaking drag coefficient (cd value) of 0.23. To achieve this, the aerodynamics experts had to optimize numerous details and implement new ideas. By way of example, the AIRPANEL Advanced shutter system, available for most engines in the EXCLUSIVE line and base models, opens the radiator grille by means of adjustable louvres when extra cooling is required and additionally features a second shutter in the air intake beneath the number plate to further improve the system’s overall performance. The sophisticated aerodynamics also minimize wind noise.

Next-generation driver assistance systems. Active Brake Assist, fitted as standard, is able to warn the driver of impending crash situations, provide just the right level of support during emergency braking and, if necessary, also apply the brakes automatically itself. In addition to slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles, it can also detect pedestrians crossing the danger zone ahead of the vehicle.

Likewise included as standard are ATTENTION ASSIST with adjustable sensitivity, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, and Crosswind Assist, which can assist the driver by substantially mitigating the effects of strong crosswinds to prevent the vehicle from drifting too far off track.

Highlights of the optional Driver Assistance package include:

  • DRIVE PILOT: This system represents Mercedes-Benz's next step along the road to autonomous driving. As Distance Pilot DISTRONIC on motorways and country roads, it is not only able to keep the car the correct distance behind vehicles in front automatically, it can also follow them at a speed of up to 210 km/h for the first time. This can make life easier for the driver, who no longer needs to operate the brake or accelerator pedal during normal driving and also receives plenty of steering assistance from the Steering Pilot—even on moderate bends.

    Another unique feature at speeds up to 130 km/h is the fact that, like in a swarm, the system can continue to intervene actively by taking account of surrounding vehicles and parallel structures, even if the lines are unclear or non-existent, like at road works. The system therefore makes driving much easier, especially in traffic jams or heavy congestion. Another feature that helps to relieve the workload on the driver in such situations is the extended restart function, which allows automatic starting of the vehicle within 30 seconds following a stop initiated by the Distance Pilot DISTRONIC on motorways or similar roads.

    In combination with COMAND Online, the selectable Speed Limit Pilot subfunction can autonomously adjust the vehicle’s speed in response to camera-detected speed limits or speed limits logged in the navigation system, e.g. 50 km/h in built-up areas or 100 km/h on country roads.

    Additional DRIVE PILOT innovations include, for the first time, an Active Lane-change Assistant. This radar- and camera-based assistance system assists the driver when changing lanes on multi-lane roads and can steer the vehicle into the lane selected by the driver – when overtaking, for example. Once the driver has indicated to turn for at least two seconds, the Active Lane-change Assistant assists with steering into the adjacent lane if it detects that the lane is unoccupied.

  • Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function: Compared with the standard version, this system has extended speed thresholds with respect to vehicles and pedestrians. Furthermore, it can detect crossing traffic at junctions and, if the driver fails to respond, apply the brakes autonomously. For the first time, it can also detect hazardous situations at the tail end of traffic jams where there is no room to manoeuvre and initiate autonomous braking far sooner in such situations. Consequently, it is possible to completely avoid accidents at speeds up to 100 km/h or substantially reduce the severity of accidents at speeds above this level.

  • Evasive Steering Assist: This likewise new system ideally complements the pedestrian detection function of Active Brake Assist. When the driver deliberately or instinctively performs an evasive maneuver in a dangerous situation, this function can assist by adding precisely calculated steering torque to support the movement of the steering wheel. This helps the driver to avoid the pedestrian in a controlled manner while subsequently facilitating the straightening-up of the vehicle to allow the situation to be negotiated safely.

  • Advanced assistance systems: The intelligent assistance systems in the new Driver Assistance package also include proven systems that have been further developed in terms of their mode of operation and the sensors they use. Active Lane Keeping Assist can help stop the driver from unintentionally changing lane, this being done by corrective one-sided application of the brakes, including in the case of broken lines and risk of collision, e.g. with oncoming traffic or fast overtaking vehicles. Active Blind Spot Assist can now also warn of the risk of a lateral collision in typical urban traffic at low speeds and, as before, correctively intervene at the last moment to prevent a collision at speeds above 30 km/h. PRE-SAFE PLUS can protect against collisions with traffic following behind and their effects on the occupants.

The range of new features in the new E-Class also includes:

  • Remote Parking Pilot: For this first time, this system allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely using a smartphone app, enabling the occupants to get into and out of the car easily, even if space is very tight.

  • Car-to-X communication: In 2013, Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to introduce widespread car-to-car networking in the form of a retrofit solution. This is now to be followed by the logical next step as the world’s first fully integral Car-to-X solution goes into series production. The mobile phone-supported exchange of information with other vehicles further ahead on the road, for example, can effectively allow the driver to “see around corners” or “through obstacles” well in advance. This means that the driver receives an earlier warning than previously in the event of imminent danger, such as a broken down vehicle at the edge of the road or also in the event of heavy rain or black ice on the road ahead. In this case the new E-Class simultaneously acts as a receiver and a transmitter, since warning messages are conveyed automatically by evaluating vehicle statuses or manually by the driver to the backend.

  • PRE-SAFE impulse side: This system is part of the Driving Assistance package PLUS. If a lateral collision has been detected and is imminent, it moves the driver or front passenger away from the danger zone in a sideways direction by way of precaution. To do this, the system inflates an air chamber in the side bolster of the front seat backrest nearest the side of the imminent impact in a fraction of a second, thus increasing the distance between occupant and door and, at the same time, reducing the forces acting on the occupants.

  • PRE-SAFE Sound: This system is based on a human reflex in the inner ear, called the stapedius reflex. PRE-SAFE Sound emits a short interference signal through the vehicle’s sound system if the risk of a collision is detected. This signal can trigger the natural reflex and thus prepare the occupants’ ears for the expected sound of the accident.

  • High-resolution MULTIBEAM LED headlamps, each with 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs, automatically illuminate the road with a hitherto unsurpassed, precision-controlled distribution of exceptionally bright light – without dazzling other road users. That’s because this grid allows the light distribution of the left and right headlamps to be controlled separately and adapted to the changing situation on the road quickly and dynamically. All functions of the Intelligent Light System in low-beam and high-beam mode can furthermore be depicted purely digitally and without mechanical actuators for the first time, including, as a world first, a purely electronically implemented active light function.

  • Digital Vehicle Key: This drive authorization system uses Near Field Communication technology and allows the driver’s smartphone to be used as a vehicle key.

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