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FREEDOM TO LET GO

Published: Thursday, December 01, 2016    



MERCEDES-BENZ TAKES ANOTHER STEP CLOSER TO THE FUTURE AND ITS GOAL OF ACCIDENT-FREE AND AUTONOMOUS DRIVING WITH THE NEW E300 AMG, ALLOWING YOU TO FULLY SIT BACK, RELAX, AND VERY LITERALLY ENJOY THE RIDE

If you are a reader of my generation, or just a fanatic of sitcoms from the Eighties, then you will certainly remember the Knight Industries Two Thousand; the self-driving, turbo boosting, talking, bullet proof TransAm sidekick of Michael Knight.

Growing up, I’m sure that most of us at some point in time wanted a car just like KITT. Maybe not for the crime-fghting aspect, but certainly for the simple fact that it had one of the most amazing dashes to ever be seen and it could drive itself.

Like most tech, once you see it in the movie or television, it certainly can’t be out of the realm of possibility – it only takes time. For the modern day enthusiast, Tesla has made leaps and bounds in the self-driving automobile category and as far as I’m concerned, Google is the other.

But now a third name can be added to this list with Mercedes-Benz launching the new E300, which may not be a thirty-year descendent from Knight Industries, but it is certainly a car for the age of smart devices, and unlike the Tesla, it has an AMG petrol-infused, turbo-charged engine that will leave most others well behind in the rearview mirror.

So what makes this E-class so much better than the previous? And what makes it the most intelligent sedan in its class? It all comes down to the next-generation driving assistance systems that are available on each 2017 model.

PRICE: As tested – Dh310,000
POWER: 245hp
ENGINE: 4-cylindar Turbo

NEXT GENERATION AUTONOMY

As you would expect, Mercedes-Benz’s new assistance and safety systems only enhance the already high level of safety, comfort and driver assistance. The Active Brake Assist is able to warn the driver of suspected collisions, provide unparalleled support in emergency braking situations and if necessary, autonomously apply the brakes if you don’t take action soon enough going through an intersection.

This coupled with the Attention Assist that was launched seven years ago, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, has now become the benchmark for the beginning of the list for safety features. The optional Driving Assistance package is what really makes you, ironically enough, sit up and pay attention, in the new E-Class.

Most notable is the new Drive Pilot system that represents the next step from MercedesBenz to make your next trip nearly completely autonomous.

As Distance Pilot Distronic, it is not only able to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle directly ahead, the improved system can continue to actively help with the steering by taking account of surrounding vehicles and structures. A single front-facing radar, a stereo camera behind the windshield and sensors mounted in the rear corners allow for up to 60 seconds of hands-free and attention-free driving, even at speeds of 140kph. If need be, the E-Class will even change lanes for you once you give it the ‘ok’ by flashing the turn signal for two seconds.

I don’t know if this is the right way to head down any motoring highway, but I’m sure that the future will be the fnal decision maker on this idea. I, however, did fnd the enhanced cruise control a delight to use on long highway journeys simply because it did allow me to take my eyes from the road while I searched for a new radio station, or needed to open a bottle of soda by use of two hands.

If one was so inclined, you could drive great distances without much effort, as long as you never completely abandoned your ‘driver duties' and occasionally put your hands on the steering wheel to let the E-Class know that you haven’t completely checked out or fallen asleep hurdling down the highway.

KEEPING YOU SAFE "WITH" SOUND

The new E-Class also aims at keeping everybody else in the car just as safe as the driver. The Pre-Safe Impulse Side system is part of the Driving Assistance Package Plus. Should the car detect an imminent collision from the side, it will move the driver or front passenger away from the danger zone as a precaution. To do this, the side bolster of the front seat’s backrest will be inflated nearest the side of the collision two-tenths of a second ahead of impact, pushing the passenger inward, away from the oncoming vehicle.

The other new innovation is the Pre-Safe Sound system. This system plays pink noise and is based on a human reflex in the inner ear, called the stapedius reflex. Sound emitted through the vehicle’s sound system triggers the reflex of the inner ear and reduces the risk of hearing damage and prepares the occupants’ ears for the expected sound of the accident.

Yes, my mouth dropped open as well. Leave it to the engineers at MercedesBenz to fx a problem I didn’t even know I had.

FULL-BODIED LUXURY

The safety features are not the only thing that captivates in the new E-Class. An all-new infotainment generation is also making its debut with Comand Online. Highlighted by the optional Widescreen Cockpit with two 12.3-inch displays mounted across the dash, it also comes with touch sensitive controls on the steering wheel and the new intelligent graphic design of the Multifunction Telephony.

This new telephony system allows mobile phones to be charged and at the same time be connected to the vehicle’s exterior aerial with absolutely no need for cables or a telephone holder. You can see who’s calling and read SMS messages from the second 12.3-inch screen on the dash.

Overall, I was impressed. Just 30 minutes into the frst drive I felt as if this Mercedes-Benz had been designed with ME in mind. It was fast, fuel-effcient, technologically thrilling and did nothing but look out for my well-being. Every aspect of the new E-Class works toward only one thing – an overtly autonomous, luxurious drive, whether you’re holding the wheel or not.
 
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