Wait, you don’t like Mercedes Benz… Benz’s…um… you aren’t dying to own a Merc?
Normally we’re not massive fans of Mercedes Benz. There are a couple of reasons for that. The prevailing opinion seems to be that it’s an old person’s car, for one. The saloons are long enough that driving them can be a chore and then there’s the main reason we’re not keen – they’re waaaaay out of our price range.
The upcoming E-Class saloon for 2016 isn’t going to be breaking away from that cost issue, for us at least, but it is looking a lot more desirable than the average German luxury saloon. And it’s not just the post-modern paint job.
All right, we’ll bite. Why the attractiveness quotient increase?
Have you seen it?
We have now. Why else?
The smartphone unlocking feature is one reason. We know that’s not new but Merc’s implementation of it is. The new E-Class will use NFC to automatically unlock the doors, which will in turn allow drivers to start the car using a button on the dash. Your smartphone will become your keys, in effect. Merc reckons their system, which has pertinent info stored on a SIM in the phone, will be a lot more secure than other smartphone unlocking options.
That can’t be all, surely?
Don’t call me Shirley. /leslienielson
Yes. And the new E-Class is going to be able to park itself. With a little assistance from the driver, who will be standing outside the car while the whole reverse/parallel parking thing is taking place. The feature is called Remote Parking Assistant and involved the driver getting a tad past the parking space, getting out and then helping the car into its space with an app.
You’ll have to be nearby though, as the car will need your input. You’ll also need to keep the key nearby or it will just sit there doing absolutely nothing. On the upside, the app-controlled parking should be extremely effective even if you’re making a very tight squeeze.
So we’re assuming it’s quite a safe car, then?
It certainly should be. There are going to be a whole raft of safety features for the new E-Class. A quick highlight reel for you: there will be 23 different sensors stuffed into it, there’s a feature called Pre-Safe Impulse Side which will detect a t-bone impact and move the front seats away from it and it’ll even protect your hearing in the event of a collision using a special audio tone. Apparently the sound of a crash can be quite nasty.
Nice! Anything else?
Let’s see… mini-airbags in the seatbelt and the car will also prepare for impacts that it detects by closing windows, the sun-roof, adjusting seats and pre-tensioning your seatbelt. That should cover it. Let’s not forget that the 2016 E-Class will be semi-autonomous as well.
It’ll stick to its lane, by following road markings or the vehicle in front of it – so hopefully you’re not following a taxi. It’ll also automatically brake if traffic density increases and there’s Active Braking Assist, which will improve braking in the event of an imminent collision – steering will also be tweaked if you need it, to a limited extent.
So… hands-free driving?
Um… no. That’s not allowed right now. You’ll have to drive yourself, the Merc will help where it can.
Are there any other features we should know about? Does it fly?
Happily, no. But it can talk to other E-Class Mercs, as well as other systems, with the Car-to-X comms system. The vehicle will connect to a cloud server which will give drivers updates on traffic, hazards and other things on the road. Not sure how effective it’ll be in SA (or anywhere really) but as more cars start to implement it, the tech should prove a lot more useful.
Alright, sold (as soon as someone buys my kidney on eBay). When can I have one?
It’ll be showing up next year. Mercedes hasn’t announced pricing for the new E-Class yet, so hopefully you’re getting a lot for that internal organ.