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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.