The tenth generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class will begin hitting showrooms in Europe over the next couple of months, bringing with it a number of new features including improved “driver assistance features” — active brake assist, evasive steering assist, remote controlled auto-parking, and a “drive pilot” feature, etc.
The next generation of the E-Class will include a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) — the Mercedes E350e — which will be hitting European showrooms sometime after the launch of the first tenth generation E-Class variants in April. When exactly that will happen isn’t yet clear.
Most of the driver assist features seem to be aimed directly at trying to keep up with Tesla’s current capabilities (as we reported recently, the general opinion is that most companies are far behind) — the new Mercedes variants of Tesla’s Summon (Remote Parking Pilot) and Autopilot (Drive Pilot) features, for instance, are easily recognizable for what they are.
A recent press release provides more:
The sum total of its innovations, including the Active Lane-change Assistant which allows the driver to effortlessly steer into the selected lane, makes the E-Class the most intelligent saloon in the executive class. It can be ordered at prices starting from €45,303. This means that, for a comparable equipment specification, the prices are only slightly higher than those of the corresponding previous models. The new E-Class will be in dealer showrooms from April 2016.
The new E-Class is sophisticated, confidently stylish and dynamic. Compared with its predecessor, its wheelbase length has grown by 65 millimetres (2939/2874), its overall length by 43 millimeters (4923/4880). The resulting increase in space is to the benefit of all passengers. The basis for agile handling characteristics is provided by an increased track width (extra 20 millimeters at the front, extra 7 millimeters at the rear). With minor exceptions, the boot capacity has been maintained at the excellent level of the previous model.
…The Plug-In Hybrid impresses with its dynamism and efficiency, allowing around 30 kilometers of all-electric and therefore locally emission-free driving. Its four-cylinder petrol engine, in conjunction with a powerful electric motor, gives it a total system output of 210 kW (286 hp) with a system torque of 550 Nm. 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.
While it certainly sounds as though the new E-Class offerings will be nice cars, I can’t help but get the feeling that Mercedes is playing catchup here, and is simply trying to milk its current position as much as possible rather than stay ahead of the curve. Big changes are coming to the auto industry over the next decade or two, so why not make more of an effort?