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by Daniel DeGasperi

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has controversially trumped its all-new S-Class larger sibling by introducing pioneering safety technology six months before the larger new S-Class makes its debut.

While Mercedes-Benz is aware that the S-Class is renowned as a technological tour de force, one spokesperson said that “politics was pushed aside” to get the latest technology into the market as quickly as possible.

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class boasts more than 11 new or heavily upgraded active safety systems thanks to the addition of more, and more technologically advanced cameras and radar.

For the first time a stereo multi-purpose camera joins the existing mono multi-purpose camera, both cradled above the centre rear-view mirror. With two ‘eyes’ each looking forwards at a 45-degree angle, the E-Class can ‘see’ up to 500 metres ahead, enabling earlier detection of potential hazards, and better analysis for the auto-swerve and auto-braking functions.

Thanks to three radars at the back – a single long-range, up to 80 metres behind, and two short-range, up to 30 metres to the sides – the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, when fitted with this equipment, offers accident prevention technology that are firsts for a Mercedes.

As part of a package dubbed Pre-Safe Brake, front cameras can now detect pedestrians in addition to still and moving objects, and brake the car to a standstill. The system avoids an accident altogether below 54km/h, and significantly reduces impact below 72km/h. For moving objects, the system works at up to 200km/h.

Pre-Safe Plus can also detect a rear collision (above), the driver behind the E-Class warned first by switching on hazard lights. The system then tightens seatbelts and applies the park brake at standstill to minimise occupant harm and pushing into a vehicle ahead during a rear impact.

Adding to the outgoing Brake-Assist Plus system is a cross-traffic detection system – similar to that seen in the recent Holden VF Commodore – which when reversing identifies pedestrians and cars approaching from the side that may be hidden from the driver, and applies the brakes if required.

The adoption of electro-mechanical steering has enabled the addition of auto-park assistance technology, called Active Park Assistant by Mercedes-Benz, that detects parking spaces and then steers the E-Class into either a parallel or 90-degree spot.

The new steering system also adds function to the previous Active Lane Keeping Assist technology (above), which can subtly move the steering wheel and apply the brakes on one side of the vehicle if ‘lane wander’ is detected, pulling the vehicle back in its lane, or between what the system recognises as the centre of two white lines.

The only one of these features that won’t be available in Australia will be Traffic Sign Assist. This system works with the satellite navigation system to detect road signs, including speed limits, and displays them on the central monitor. Apparently, Australia’s varied use of different coloured and shaped signs between states makes it difficult for the system to comprehend their meaning.

For the first time, the system can also detect if a driver is going the wrong way down a street or motorway ramp and alert them – Mercedes-Benz calls this where people accidentally become a “phantom driver”.

An “intelligent” lighting package allows night-time driving to be done with the high beam headlights permanently on (above), as the all-LED headlights now have the ability to ‘block out’ cars in the distance and retain high beam around them.

Mercedes-Benz Australia could not yet confirm which of these safety systems will be standard on the facelifted E-Class which is due here in September. It was, however, acknowledged that auto-parking and cross-traffic technologies will be standard on the forthcoming Holden VF Commodore, so these features may find their way across the E-Class range.

Read CarAdvice’s 2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review.

  • Dave W

    I can already do all that myself, why would I want to pay more premium for stuff that I’ve been doing myself for the past 15 years without fail?

    Motoring news is getting a bit boring these days. Always some new safety features grabbing headlines. Makes me appreciate simple cars like the 86/BRZ even more.

    • Exar Kun

      Cars with these sorts of features can often attract lower insurance premiums.  And besides, it only takes one mistake from an otherwise perfect driver for an accident to happen – what’s the harm in having systems like this available?

      • Dave W

        Lower insurance premium? Doubt it. That extra safety factor will be offset by the cost of fixing all these features when they go wonky, and they WILL go wonky.

        I’m guessing we’ll see some accidents where these safety features failed and the driver caught off-guard in the near future.

    • Tom

      You obviously haven’t done much driving in any major Australian city then…you may be a decent driver, but a good portion of drivers are complete muppets who shouldn’t be anywhere near the driver’s seat. They can use all the help they can get. 

      • Dave W

        My question is, what happens when these drivers got used to these features and they failed? Remember, electronics are fickle, you never know when they’re going to fail. I wonder how long the warranty will last for these features. A year, like every other electronic goods on the market?

  • Zaccyissoocool

    With locked brakes, a rear collision is going to cause much more damage than if the brakes were only 50% engaged

    • Devil666

      To the huge rear crumple zone. Far better than being pushed into oncoming traffic and t-boned.

      • Zaccyissoocool

        You’d have to be hit with very high force to be pushed into traffic if your foot is already on the brake (auto). You’d also have to be at pole position at the traffic lights. Not a very likely when considering all the possible rear ender scenarios.

        Then again, the more likely scenario would occur in bumper to bumper traffic. this system may prevent both the front and the rear ends being damaged.Cost:benefit

        • Witness

          I saw a guy last year drive at 60km/h into the back of a car sitting at pole position. The car was pushed up the hill into oncoming traffic. Somehow everyone was able to avoid hitting the car. It finally stopped moving on the other side of the intersection. The car that was hit had the brakes on because the lights stayed on all that time and tyre marks were left behind. Nasty.

  • Confused motorist

    Wow, how do they fit that all in?

  • Martin

    Geez the correct spelling in these articles has been a bit sloppy of late.

    • Robbo

      Would you like to point out incorrect spelling, Martin? I’m an English teacher and it reads fine to me :S

  • Zaccy16

    Very impressive tech! that high beam system is a great idea, how dumb are these people though that drive on the wrong side of the road!

  • Force-15

    Speaking of the adaptive LED headlamps, is this technology presently legal in Australia? They have recently been outlawed in the USA.

  • Luke Brinsmead

    That’s some pretty cool tech.