2016 Mercedes E-class: is this the most advanced car yet?

Autonomous technology said to take another step forward

2016 Mercedes E-class preview

THE 2016 Mercedes E-class will be revealed at next week’s Detroit motor show, and the German car maker says that a host of electronic driver aids will make it the company’s most advanced model when it goes on sale in the summer.

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A sketch issued by Mercedes (above) gives a preview of the car’s look. Once again, the range will consist of the saloon, which goes on sale first, and by the end of the year an estate version will join it. In 2017, coupé and convertible models are expected to be added.

For the first time, the E-class will use active steering and a host of cameras, radar sensors and lasers to steer the luxury saloon at motorway speeds. Although the driver will need to rest their hands on the steering wheel, the car will steer itself through bends, execute a lane-change (Tesla was the first to this feat) and maintain a safe distance from other traffic. It can also adjust the speed according to changes in the speed limit changes, assuming the driver has failed to react to signs.

And just as many cars feature the ability to apply the brakes or increase braking power, should a driver fail to slow sufficiently in the face of an obstacle, Mercedes says the 2016 E-class can apply more steering in an attempt to help the car avoid a potential accident – such as when a pedestrian steps into the road.

The advances are part of what Mercedes calls Intelligent Drive, a range of safety systems that it says are “on the way to autonomous and accident-free driving”.

The company is not just hoping for success by gambling on safety; convenience will play a key role in helping the E-class stand out from the current Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series. Smartphone users will be able to use their phone as a digital car key, thanks to Near Field Communication technology.

And as cars get bigger but parking spaces stay the same size, perhaps the likes of a self-parking system operated from the driver’s smartphone – and called Remote Parking Pilot – will be more appealing than cynics may predict. The 2016 BMW 7-series is also designed to be able to remote park.

2016 Mercedes E-class interior

Based on the platform of the S-class, the E-class will be larger than the current model. However, Mercedes says it has managed to make the saloon lighter than the model it replaces. There will be a range of petrol and diesel models, as well as plug-in hybrids and AMG versions.

And the interior, which is dominated by a 24-inch digital display that can be customised by the driver, is the most sophisticated yet from the German manufacturer.

More information and images are due to be released on Monday, January 11 — come back then for further details.

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