Preview: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class Are you ready for a car that's smarter than you? –

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Preview: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class

Posted on August 10th, 2013

HAMBURG, GERMANY—Somewhere in northern Germany, headed for who-knows-where, we realized we might be lost.

I#8217;d been fiddling with the GPS display on the dash of the new Mercedes E-Class coupe and it all suddenly went blank. Our directions were obliterated. We were far from home without a map and didn#8217;t even know where we were supposed to go, just that it was on an island in the North Sea, somewhere near Denmark.

Joe didn#8217;t seem so bothered. He was behind the wheel and pointed out that the navigation system was working on the small display between the speedo and tachometer, so we would still know when to turn left or right. Or so he hoped.

It was just an arrow pointing ahead, with no other clue.

Even if that arrow could rescue us, it would not show us the alternatives seen on a map. We#8217;d be forced to drive the route Mercedes was recommending, like lemmings, until we#8217;d plunge with no warning over the cliff into the sea. I jabbed away at more buttons. I tried to read the manual and translate it from German.

I cursed, many times.

“I don#8217;t know what your problem is,” said Joe, and he pointed at the large central display. “We can just follow the map.”

“Except there is no map — duh!” I shot back. “These are the radio stations. The radio#8217;s not going to show us the map.”

“Looks like a map to me,” muttered Joe.

After a while, the penny dropped. I moved my head over and the display faded and then, as I got closer to Joe, it resumed again to show me a map.

It was a twin display screen, which shows one image to only the driver and a second image to only the passenger.

I#8217;d switched the images with my fiddling and neither of us realized what the other could see.

The design allows passengers to watch movies or, in much of the world, even live TV, while the driver stays undistracted.

Mercedes developed this technology and it#8217;s now commonplace in many of its new vehicles. In the 2014 E-Class coupe and cabriolet, there#8217;s a lot that#8217;s new.

Like the sedan and wagon that debuted in the spring, these cars feature “Intelligent Drive,” which is a bundle of a dozen or so safety systems making the car more clever than the driver. This is becoming Mercedes#8217; trademark, which it can afford to develop for its premium vehicles.

A stereo camera system on the windshield monitors the road ahead and recognizes people and lane markings; a radar system monitors other vehicles.

When everything is put together, the car can keep itself within the lane and follow other cars, slowing and speeding up with traffic with almost no input from the driver.

There#8217;s an even more advanced version of this in the just-released S-Class, the flagship.

That more expensive car has 20 such systems, including one that uses the cameras to recognize bumps in the road and adjust the suspension within 5 milliseconds to compensate. Phew!

But here in Germany, my attention was fully on the road ahead.

The first 2014 E-Class coupe or convertible to arrive in Canada is the E550, is powered by the current 4.7 L V8 engine that makes 402 hp.

With the pedal to the (carpeted) metal on the Autobahn, the cabriolet muscled past lesser Volkswagens and Fiats with nary a twitch.

So it should for the price, of course. The E550 coupe will cost $73,800 in Canada, and its soft-topped sibling will cost $80,800.

That#8217;s a price increase of about $900 and doesn#8217;t include the optional costs of most of those driving safety systems.

Considering the new S-Class offers more than the old model and will actually be about 10 per cent cheaper, it#8217;s too bad that the rest of the line-up isn#8217;t following suit.

The E350 coupe and cabriolet will come later, with its 3.5 L V6 engine that makes 302 hp.

It will be priced at $62,000 for the coupe and $69,800 for the cabriolet.

In Europe, there are nine different engine trims available, including diesels and four-cylinders, and not including expected hybrids and E63 power monsters.

Mercedes won#8217;t confirm the biggest news, which is the new turbocharged E400 3.0 L V6 that#8217;s expected to come to Canada next summer to replace the V8. It makes 333 hp and a more astonishing 354 lb.-ft. of torque, it#8217;s better on gas, and is only a tick behind its big brother in acceleration.

The fourth-generation E-Class looks and feels much racier than its predecessor, but it#8217;s not really — not much has been changed mechanically. That#8217;s okay, though, because there really wasn#8217;t anything wrong with it.

Instead, it offers a freshened design (though still no B-pillar) with new bumpers and headlights, an updated interior and, with the cabriolet, the quietest ride of any convertible when the roof#8217;s in place.

Most important, it provides all those Intelligent Drive systems to thoroughly improve the car#8217;s safety and capability. It really is more clever than the driver — and the passenger, too.

Transportation for freelance writer Mark Richardson was provided by the manufacturer.


Transportation for freelance writer Mark Richardson was provided by the manufacturer. Email:

2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Price: $62,000 to $80,800

Engine: 3.5 L V6; 4.7 L V8

Power/Torque: 302 hp/273 lb.-ft. 402/443

Fuel Consumption L/100 km: E350: 6.9 city, 10.5 hwy. E550: 7.5 city, 11.9 hwy.

Competition: Audi A5 and S5, Infiniti G37, BMW 5 Series

What#8217;s Best: Hot new look, refined interior, as safe as possible.

What#8217;s Worst: More tech to go wrong one day, no confirmation for better E400, cramped in rear seats.

What#8217;s Interesting: Europe

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