- New E-Class will be a bit of a tech-fest
- Gadgets help reduce your workload
- Fleet managers will be delighted by safety systems
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class will offer even more gadgets designed to keep drivers and fleet managers both safer and happier.
We’ve had a look at some of them at a special preview event in Stuttgart. While some are just improvements of existing technology, others are pretty space age.
Here are our six favourite bits of new tech you can expect to see in your E-Class next year.
1. Park or retrieve your car from outside the vehicle
What is it? Unlock the car, launch an app on your smartphone, and automatically drive or reverse into or out of a parallel or bay parking spot.
Tell me more: Once the app is up and running, all you have to do is continue drawing a circle on the screen. This works like a dead man’s switch, if you stop drawing, the car will stop moving.
The car will move at up to 1.2mph and the system uses Bluetooth with a three metre range, so there is no need for WiFi or a data connection.
It can park in a space with just 40cm either side of the car. Smaller gaps can be navigated, but the app will ask you if you are sure you want to proceed.
All you need is a compatible phone, automatic gearbox, keyless go, and park pilot with 360 degree parking cameras.
2. Semi-autonomous driving
What is it? Cruise-control that can speed up or slow down for traffic and steer the car for you.
Tell me more: Neither of these things is particularly groundbreaking but Convenience Assistance tech in the new E-Class is now cleverer than ever.
The car will maintain the correct braking distance from the vehicle in front and adjust the steering to follow them in their lane. With decent white lines the system works from 0-124mph.
If the lane markings are unclear it can use other vehicles, guard rails and reflector posts to work out the correct position of the car up to 80mph including in cities and motorways and can automatically adjust the speed of the car to comply with posted speed limits.
You can’t just sit back and do your knitting though, there are detectors in the wheel which can tell if you’re holding it or not.
3. Smartphone car key
What is it? Wave your phone at the door handle to lock or unlock it, without needing the key. That’s one less thing to carry around. You can even use one device for several different vehicles.
Tell me more: Once an account has been set up with the online Mercedes connect me system, all the driver has to do to get in the car is hold their phone near the handle. To start it, the phone must be placed in the charging dock.
If you lose your phone then the key function can be disabled from the connect me website providing the device is able to receive an internet connection. If not, the car has to be taken to a Mercedes-Benz garage to be reprogrammed, in the same way you would have to if you lost the normal key.
4. Active Braking with Congestion Emergency and Evasive Steering Assist
What is it? A wordy way of saying the car’s computer, unhindered by clouded judgement, will increase braking or steering power to help you avoid crashing into something.
Tell me more: Radar works alongside cameras and ultrasonic sensors to spot potential collisions and gives the driver an audible and visual warning.
Start to apply the brakes and the car will work out whether you are pushing hard enough or not, and boost the pressure if necessary. It can also brake for you automatically.
In the same way, if you start to take evasive action the car will apply extra steering in order to swerve around the object, and then straighten up the wheel for you to avoid a secondary accident.
The system can spot pedestrians, and both stationary and moving vehicles. If you’re on the motorway and all three lanes are at a standstill, the car can spot that there is no chance of swerving around the traffic and will immediately apply the brakes.
5. Car to X communication
What is it? Cars warning each other about crashes or potential hazards and relaying the information to the driver.
Tell me more: If a Mercedes is involved in a crash it sends information including the location to the Mercedes-Benz cloud.
This is then distributed to all nearby cars equipped with Car to X technology so drivers can be on the look-out for hazards. The system can spot breakdowns, accidents, hazard lights or bad weather.
You can even send warnings to other Mercedes cars manually.
6. Crash mitigation tech
What is it? Several smaller gadgets that could reduce the severity of injuries sustained in a collision.
Tell me more: Not always the first thing you think about in terms of car crash injuries, but your hearing could be damaged quite substantially in a collision.
Pre-safe sound plays white noise when the car senses an impending shunt which primes the ears for a loud noise and protects your hearing.
Side impulse helps move you towards the centre of the car before a crash using an inflatable air chamber in the outer side of the seat backrest.
Finally, belt bags help reduce the impact the seatbelt makes to the chest by inflating before an impact. Mercedes reckons this can lessen injuries by up to 50 percent.