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Thread: A class of its own

  1. #1
    mr funny is offline Any complaints please PM me
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    Default A class of its own

    March 21, 2009 Saturday

    Merc's funky, safe ride

    The new stylish E-class is chockful of safety features

    By christopher tan, in madrid

    Besides its bold new look, the E-class comes with a new line-up of engines as well. -- PHOTO: DAIMLER AG

    The Mercedes-Benz E-class has long been one of the most unadventurous executive choices around. And millions of buyers like it that way. The latest model, however, could change things somewhat.

    It sports a decidedly revolutionary styling. In fact, revolutionary might be too mild a description for this hard-angled and funky design. But like most German products, there is a good chance that it will grow on you.

    Its radical appearance aside, the new E-class sets new benchmarks in a few other areas. Built on an all-new platform, the latest car is chockful of standard features that keep the car well ahead of the executive pack.

    The safety features are the most impressive. For instance, the car knows when you are too tired to drive, using sensors that monitor up to 70 parameters. If you are drowsy, it will chime and display a coffee cup sign on the instrument panel to tell you so.

    The car will alert you if you are too close to a vehicle or object in front of you. If you do not react, it will apply the brakes - 40 per cent at first, and if you still do not take over, fully. In a collision, the bonnet rises by 50mm to reduce the risk of pedestrians hitting the hard engine.

    It will remind you of speed limits, using a sign recognition technology. Its headlights adapt to road and weather conditions and will dip when there is a vehicle in front or approaching.

    It has a slew of airbags, including curtain airbags and a knee airbag.

    In the area of comfort, the new E is still a standard bearer. Although occupying a footprint similar to the current car, it is cleverly packaged to offer more interior space. Its wheelbase is more generous, as is elbow room and headroom - even though the car sits lower, giving it a drag coefficient of 0.25. That's a fancy way of saying it has better wind-cheating properties.

    Its stowage space remains a class-leading 540 litres. Not only that, it is now fitted with a nifty extendable pack for wet or dirty things.

    Along with its extended wheelbase, its suspension has been reworked to give the car a fabulous ride. The cabin is also well insulated against outside noise. On a test route that takes us out of Madrid into snow-capped mountains, wind noise begins to intrude only above 130kmh.

    The front seats come with active side support, with bolsters that keep you in place in fast corners. But these are optional equipment.

    The smart aircon system, however, is standard issue. It now has a 'diffuse' mode which, as the term implies, allows the system to cool the cabin effectively without ruffling your hair. Mercedes also said it has fixed the common problem of the windscreen misting on wet days.

    In the luxe department, this Merc has all the amenities found in the current model. In the area of performance, it enters new territories with a line-up of new engines. Probably the most relevant would be the E250 CGI, with a 1.8-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder power plant that pumps out over 200 horsepower and, more impressively, 310Nm of torque from just 2,000rpm. The engine is the first turbo in an E-class.

    The 'wooden throttle' sensation of past E-class cars is no more. Not only that, it makes for a more frugal car. It outperforms the 2.5-litre V6, and yet is less thirsty than the 1.8-litre Kompressor. Absolutely amazing.

    The only downside to the E250 CGI is its transmission, which is merely a five-speed auto. The competition has six-speeders.

    Those who have an issue with this should go for the E350 CGI, a 3.5-litre direct injection V6 that makes 292bhp and 365Nm of torque. It is regulated by a seven-speed autobox with paddle shifters. This is clearly a smoother car, with more mid-range pull and a quieter delivery.

    But because E-class buyers in Singapore seldom go for any engine beyond 3 litres, the E250 CGI will form the bulk of sales. Until something in-between comes along. It is quite possible, since there is such a wide gap between a 1.8-litre and a 3.5-litre. (The 5.4-litre V8 E500 is at best a niche seller.)

    The new E possesses a direct and predictable steering feel, something alien to the model up till now. This makes the car a whole lot more rewarding at the wheel. And with its new suspension set-up, dynamic driving will not be at the expense of comfort for other occupants.

    It is obviously a change for the better. Can the same be said for the way the car looks? Perhaps only time will tell.

    [email protected]


    Price: To be announced
    Engine: 1.8-litre inline-4 turbo; 3.5-litre V6
    Transmission: Five-speed automatic; seven-speed automatic with paddle shift
    Power: 204bhp at 5,500rpm; 292bhp at 6,400rpm
    Torque: 310Nm at 2,000-4,300rpm; 365Nm at 3,000-5,100rpm
    0-100kmh: 7.7; 6.3 seconds
    Top speed: 241kmh; 250kmh
    Fuel consumption: 7.3; 8.5 litres/100km (city-highway)
    Agent: Cycle & Carriage

  2. #2
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    Published March 25, 2009

    New E-Class finds fans in Europe

    More than 40,000 bookings were collected over a two-month period


    DESPITE the current economic gloom, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has managed to garner more than 40,000 orders in Western Europe - even before it goes on sale on March 28 there.

    Mr Geisen: 'Everyone knows about the car because of its brand values of comfort, safety, design and durability.'

    'This is a relatively huge number because the E-Class is a premium car and it is not in the showroom yet,' said Frank Bracke, head of global communications for Mercedes- Benz.

    In 2008, Western Europe accounted for 57 per cent of total Mercedes-Benz sales. In the US, Merc's second biggest market after Germany, the E-Class will only be available in April. It is scheduled to arrive in Singapore in the last quarter of 2009.

    Speaking during the press preview of the car in Madrid, Spain, last week, Mr Bracke said that the over 40,000 bookings for Europe were collected over a two-month period after Mercedes-Benz opened its order book in mid-January.

    Mathias Geisen, the product manager for the new E-Class, added that the German luxury carmaker is 'very satisfied' with the order bank. 'It is good to know we have customers who trust us and our product even without a test drive,' he said.

    But when asked if the number of bookings could have been higher if not for the economic crisis, he replied: 'It is difficult to say.'

    The current E-Class, which was launched in 2002, has notched up sales of 1.5 million units worldwide to date. This ubiquitous saloon is driven by everyone from taxi drivers to top executives and can account for as much as 30 per cent of annual Merc production, depending on the model lifecycle.

    Last year, global sales of Mercedes-Benz brand vehicles came to 1,121,700 passenger cars, excluding 134,700 units of smart, the diminutive two-seater city car.

    In Germany, the popularity of the E-Class has helped Mercedes-Benz to become the best-selling premium brand there. Overall, it is the country's second most popular marque, after mainstream brand Volkswagen.

    As one of the three- pointed star's core models, Mr Geisen said, the E-Class is 'the heart of Mercedes'.

    'Everyone knows about the car because of its brand values of comfort, safety, design and durability. These are what the E-Class, and Mercedes- Benz, stand for,' he said.

    The new car has a novel front-end treatment with two pairs of squarish headlights - a departure from the round lamps of the two previous models. Mr Geisen said that the styling of the new-generation E-Class was intended to be 'dynamic but not aggressive'.

    He explained: 'The design direction from the marketing perspective is that status and serenity must be expressed.'

  3. #3
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    Published March 28, 2009

    A safer sweeter drive

    The new ninth-generation E-Class is being unveiled with a plethora of safety and comfort innovations. By Samuel Ee

    The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class (far right) with its predecessor models

    AS with previous models, the new, ninth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class is being unveiled with a host of safety and comfort innovations. The following are some of the new technologies being introduced:

    Active Bonnet and knee airbag

    In the interests of pedestrian protection, the Active Bonnet comes standard on the new E-Class. Upon impact, the hood pops up by 50 mm in 40 milliseconds to provide additional deformation space between the pedestrian and the rigid engine parts under the sheet metal.

    What is unique about the Merc system is that it uses a spring-load mechanism, not pyrotechnics. This means the Active Bonnet is a reversible system and can be reset easily by the owner by opening and closing the bonnet, thus lowering costs.

    The E-Class also has a seventh additional airbag. This knee airbag was not instituted because of an increase in knee-related injuries during accidents. Rather, when this bag is deployed in conjunction with the driver's airbag, pelvic movements are minimised, allowing for more optimal protection.

    Adaptive Highbeam Assist

    The new E-Class has headlamps to adapt to the traffic situation and automatically avoids dazzling other drivers. A camera on the windscreen recognises traffic ahead and controls the headlamps so that the high beam is 'reduced' to a low beam so as not reach the other vehicle.

    Although this idea is not new, what is novel about the Mercedes system is that the transition from high to low beam and vice versa is relatively gradual compared with the on/off manner of other systems.

    Electronic crumple zone

    The radar-based system of the S-Class, which initiates automatic braking when a collision is imminent, has been enhanced to provide autonomous emergency braking.

    Previously, the assistance system pre-conditioned the brakes 2.6 seconds before a potential impact. If there is no driver response, audio and visual warnings come on 1.6 seconds prior to collision, plus partial braking (40 per cent brake power).

    But now, if there is still no reaction 0.6 seconds before collision, 100 per cent of the brake power is applied. Hence the term 'electronic crumple zone'.

    No more drowsiness danger

    A quarter of all accidents on the autobahn are due to drowsiness or inattention. So Mercedes-Benz is fitting the new Attention Assist drowsiness detection system as standard equipment on the new E-Class.

    Highly sensitive sensors continuously monitor more than 70 different parameters. When the driver's steering behaviour indicates such a potentially dangerous situation, the system gives out acoustic and visual warnings.

    20% cut in consumption

    The entry-level Mercedes-Benz E200 CGI BlueEfficiency has a new 1.8-litre, turbocharged direct injection engine with 184 hp and 270 Nm.

    Thanks to the introduction of direct injection technology, this all-aluminium four-cylinder engine enjoys a 20 per cent fuel savings. It consumes just 6.8 litres of petrol per 100 km under the combined cycle, or 14.7 km/l.

    Easy-Pack boot box

    There may be loads of new engineering and safety standards but the one feature you are likely to enjoy most is the Easy-Pack boot box. Fitted in the boot under the rear parcel shelf, you pull out what looks like a tray. Press the middle of this 'tray' down and it becomes a waterproof box for any wet or dirty items.

    There is even a T-shaped hook if you need to hang something. To store it, all you need to do is press a button and the whole bag disappears back into its frame. Simply brilliant.

    [email protected]

    With attention assist, highly sensitive sensors continuously monitor more than 70 different parameters. When the driver's steering behaviour indicates drowsiness or inattention, the system gives out acoustic and visual warnings.

  4. #4
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    Published March 28, 2009

    A class of its own

    The latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class has raised the bar so high that it is making the competition look old and tired. By Samuel Ee

    YOU can always count on a new Merc to set a new standard, but the latest E-Class has raised the bar so high, that it is making the competition look old and tired. With its outstanding comfort and innovative safety, few will argue that the ninth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the new benchmark in the mid-sized premium saloon segment. But just by looking at it, you can hardly tell.

    Its twin headlamp face has been re-interpreted yet again, this time with a pair of rectangles for a more distinctive, almost handsome, look. But walk around the car and you will discover a profile that is somewhat ungainly. Mercedes says the rear flank is inspired by the classic Ponton model from the 1950s but in truth, it looks incongruous. As for the rear, the pair of full-LED tail lamps makes it look like a big Nissan at best, or an old Volvo at worst. But all that is forgotten the moment you slide into its massage seats. Depending on whether it is a four-cylinder or V6 engine, there may or may not be a gear lever on the centre console.

    Two petrol models were available during the press launch in Madrid last week - the E250 CGI BlueEfficiency and E350 CGI BlueEfficiency. The former has a new direct injection 1.8-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine.

    A five-speed automatic transmission is standard and it is operated with the conventional Merc gear stick on the lower centre console. The latter is a 3.5-litre V6, and from behind the wheel, it will be apparent to the driver that he or she is in a six-cylinder model because of the column-mounted gear lever and shift paddles.

    BlueEfficiency may be a particularly lengthy suffix but Mercedes uses it to denote the engines' considerable fuel savings. The E250 CGI BlueEfficiency, for example, claims a more than 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption to 7.3 litres per 100 km under a combined cycle. No mean feat for a unit which also boasts a credible 310 Newton-metres of torque.

    On the road, the rear-wheel-drive E250 has good low-end oomph during the urban commute, while the turbo expands the 1.8-litre engine's lungs for faster cross-country excursions. Whatever the destination, the E-Class should take you there in relaxed fashion. The ride comfort is truly outstanding, with its adaptive shock absorbers providing a kind of cushioning that seems to glide over undulations like a hovercraft.

    But this comfort bias means the softly sprung E-Class doesn't score as high in the handling department. Fast corners have to be planned so they can be taken neatly and smoothly to minimise body roll. Fortunately, this is helped by the amazingly responsive steering, which is accurate and well-weighted. If you've come from a recent E-Class model, this new car is like a different planet.

    The platform is brand new and the torsional rigidity is up by 30 per cent. More importantly, the body structure has been optimised for lower noise, vibration and harshness levels. As a result, the cabin is remarkably hushed, with a tranquillity that comes close that of the bigger and top-of-the-line S-Class. In the E350 with its silkier V6 engine and even smoother seven-speed auto, the in-car experience is further heightened.

    The new-generation E-Class is only marginally longer than the car it replaces, but is more than 30 mm wider with a 20 mm longer wheelbase. This means a more spacious interior with improved elbow room. And although the new car is almost 20 mm lower, cabin height is increased by 10 mm thanks to more efficient packaging. You can tell that passenger comfort is clearly an E-Class priority. For example, the optional multi-zone climate control system has 'Diffuse', 'Medium' and 'Focus' modes to adapt the air volume and distribution. Even the aesthetics have been further refined. On wood trim, the nougat-coloured open-pore brown ash has a cool matte finish.

    There is no doubt that the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has pushed the envelope in the executive saloon segment. No wonder 40,000 Europeans have ordered one before it is launched without even a test drive. When the car arrives here in the fourth quarter, don't be surprised if it generates the same kind excitement.

    [email protected]


    Mercedes-Benz E250/E350 CGI BlueEfficiency

    Engine 1,796cc inline-4 turbocharged/3,498cc V6
    Transmission 5-speed auto/7-speed auto
    Max power 204 hp @ 5,500 rpm/292 hp @ 6,400 rpm
    Max torque 310 Nm @ 2,000-4,300 rpm/365 Nm @ 3,000-5,100 rpm
    0-100 kmh 7.7 secs/6.3 secs
    Top speed 241 kmh/250 kmh (limited)
    Distributor Cycle & Carriage
    Tel 6298-1818

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