Mercedes E-Class (2017) review: We drive the most advanced Benz yet on UK roads
Mercedes E-Class (2017) review: Drive
In comfort or Eco mode, the E200d I drove ate up motorways with ease. Even on less well-kept roads, the cabin let in minimal road noise, while the E-Class’ suspension took care of any bumps. However, when I needed extra power, the Mercedes provided it, although it often felt a little sluggish.
In Sport mode, however, that all changes, and the E-Class is far more generous with its power. On country lanes, the E-Class builds up speed effortlessly, and the nine-speed gearbox is far quicker to change down too – although it’s still smooth. Steering is heavier, and feedback from the road far more pronounced. The ride is also far firmer, and
Sport+ mode increases all those attributes a stage further; after a few bends it’s easy to forget you’re in what’s essentially a luxury saloon. The suspension feels significantly harder, and in automatic, the E-Class redlines at a higher level so you get more engine noise.
Mercedes E-Class (2017) review: Semi-autonomous systems and driver assistance
The E-Class features one of the most comprehensive self-driving systems you can get in 2017, but thankfully it makes it extremely easy to use. The Mercedes-Benz I drove came with Drive Pilot, an all-encompassing system that includes adaptive cruise control (Distance Pilot Distronic) complete with steering assist (Steering Pilot). It’s one of the easiest “driverless” systems I’ve used.
A green steering icon in the cockpit screen lets you know it’s safe to engage Drive Pilot and after that it’s just a case of pulling the E-Class’ third stalk toward you. From there it’s easy to set your maximum speed, and the Mercedes does the rest.
As long as Drive Pilot is enabled, the car will keep a specified distance from the car in front – and even brake if required – even in stop/start traffic. In fact, the E-Class’ Speed Limit Pilot can even read temporary signs, and change its cruising speed in response. However, there were a few times it got the speed limit wrong, and I had to force it to speed up again.
Steering assist takes care of gentle bends, and can even change lanes if you indicate – but the overall result is a car that can practically drive itself. However, if you do take your hands off the wheel for too long, the Mercedes beeps at you until you put them back, because these systems are designed to reduce driving stress, not drive for you.
Overall, I found the Drive Pilot systems extremely useful when staying on the motorway for long periods of time, and it’s a feature you should definitely consider if you’re buying this car – especially with the £1,695 price tag.
When things do go wrong, the Mercedes E-Class features a range of autonomous safety features, too. Active Blind Spot assist warns you if a car is in your blind spot, but then also uses one-sided braking to prevent a collision. In the same way, Active Lane Keeping assist will use one-sided braking if you’re in danger of veering out of your lane, and haven’t indicated.
In the event of an accident, the Mercedes E-Class also has Pre Safe systems that can reduce the effect of an unavoidable collision. If a rear collision is imminent, the Mercedes will brake and warn those in front, while a side collision will cause the car to pulse beforehand, allowing occupants to brace.
Mercedes E-Class (2017) review: Parking assistance
The Mercedes also comes with sophisticated parking assistant, whether you’re in or out the car. For bay parking, for example, the Mercedes will find a space, but then allow you to get out and finish the manoeuvre on your phone.
The remote process is incredibly intuitive – the app involves tracing a circle with your thumb to keep the car in motion – and it’s as safe as it is fascinating. The feature actually comes in handy too, particularly when you’re trying to park in a narrow bay space. The only catch? It doesn’t work on uneven ground.
The E-Class can parallel park, too, which you can do from inside the car, but the Mercedes can also help if you want take parking into your own hands. As you’d expect, the E-Class comes with front- and rear-facing cameras, and audible bleeps to help you negotiate smaller parking spaces.
Mercedes E-Class (2017) review: Verdict
The Mercedes E-Class is one of the most sophisticated cars you can buy right now, but using its technology can be either extremely intuitive, or somewhat frustrating. Most of the infotainment menus and controls in the E-Class aren’t that easy to use, but their presentation is well polished and easy to read. What’s more, the Mercedes’ semi-autonomous functions are extremely intuitive, and it makes them more accessible than other cars. For example, features such as remote parking and autonomous motorway driving can often seem daunting, but this Mercedes makes them as simple as tracing a circle.
Overall, the Mercedes E-Class is still one of the best cars you can get in this sector. It looks imposing, it has a well-put-together interior, and it’s packed with some seriously impressive technology, from self-driving systems to customisable dials. The E-Class isn’t always the best car to use – particularly when it comes to setting things up as you want them – but after that initial phase, it’s very hard to beat.
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