First drive of Mercedes-Benz E-Class in Portugal - VIDEOS

By HONG BOON HOW | 15 June 2016


With arid and mountainous land unable to support large scale farming, Portugal of the 15th century had to rely on its fearless seafarers to bring home bounties from the Americas and Far East to enrich state treasury.

Facing competition from other maritime superpowers of that era and neighbouring Spain, the Portuguese had to innovate and design their ships to be quicker for exploration of the seas.

With much perseverance and bravery, the Portuguese became the first Europeans to set foot on Japan, a perilous voyage halfway around the world that had sailors pitting their skills against unforgiving seas. A similar theme of innovation and exploration was played out knowingly or unknowingly by Mercedes-Benz in Lisbon recently.

The Portuguese capital was the media test drive venue of the latest 10th generation E-Class (W213) premium sedan, the German carmaker’s frontrunner in its push for innovation and exploration of autonomous driving technology in production cars. Said to be the most “intelligent” vehicle in the world, the new W213 combines plenty of driver assistance features using sensors, radar and camera for safer driving with multimedia connectivity and passenger comfort in a classy package.

READ MORE: New Mercedes E-Class launched in Malaysia (Ning Baizura fan? Follow the link)

The new car reprises an instantly recognisable E-Class elegant styling with elongated bonnet, short overhangs, coupé-like rear windscreen and large wheels. Taillights are a single-piece design over the previous model (W212)’s two-piece units and the head lights are the new LED Multibeam type that uses 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs to automatically illuminate the road with precision to avoid dazzling other road users.

Compared with W212, the new E-Class has softer edges and is longer by 43mm. Its wheelbase increase of 65mm gave more interior space, while height, width and bootspace of 540 litres remain largely the same. Handling is enhanced as the track at the front has been widened by 20mm and the rear by 7mm.

The new car also uses more aluminium and ultra-high-strength steel components than its predecessor for weight saving and increased body rigidity. Aside from our E 300 Avantgarde test unit which sports a large three-pointed star logo on the radiator grille, the other frontal styling are the Exclusive with a small free-standing three-star hood ornament and the AMG Line with radiator grille like the Avantgarde’s but features a more aggressive lower bumper look.

The dashboard, with its generous leather, metallic and wood trimmings, circular air vents, two 12.3-inch high resolution displays and an analogue clock, borrows its styling from the current S-Class (W222) which cranks up the luxury factor several rungs if compared with W212’s.

The E-Class also gets Blackberry-developed Touch Control interface on the steering wheel that allows the driver to control the entire infotainment system using finger swipes ala smartphone style. The driver can also customise his full-electronic instrument panel for the pre-set Classic, Sport or Progressive appearance.
Another new item is the interior LED lighting that can be personalised with a 64-colour option.

Setting out from Espelho do Agua arts centre on the bank of Targus River, our 28km drive to Estoril Circuit took us on congested city roads and highways. The suspension set-up of our test unit was sporty but could soak up shocks from cobblestone roads and railway crossings for a comfortable ride. Curves can be taken confidently at higher speeds as the Agility Control suspension system keeps body roll to a minimum.



While driving out of the city, we were impressed by the car’s intelligent features such as Steering Pilot which can help the driver steer the car in curves, and Traffic Sign Assist which uses a camera to read road signs and display them on the instrument panel. Another feature is Speed Limit Pilot which can re-adjust your cruise control speed so the car stays within the speed limit.

On highways, we were also wowed by the Lane Change Assist feature where we could change lanes by holding down the turn indicator for two seconds. We do not even have to turn the steering wheel as the E-Class would move to the next lane by itself after detecting no nearby vehicles.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection engine’s 345bhp and 370Nm of torque provided more than enough grunt to bring the car up to speed effortlessly. Fitted with the new nine-speed 9G-Tronic transmission, gear shifts are seamless and refined.



With aerodynamics improved to 0.23Cd from 0.25Cd and better sound insulation, the cabin was whisper quiet as we went above 130kph on some highway stretches. At Estoril Circuit, we got to sample more smart features, among them Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic function that scans for cross traffic and autonomously brakes the car if the driver fails to do so, and Remote Parking Pilot in which the driver can download an app into his smartphone and use it to park the car in tight spaces without being seated inside.

We also got a few laps on Estoril Circuit’s track in the more extreme E 400 AMG Line 4Matic with 333hp and 480Nm of torque on tap. Setting the drive mode to Sport+, the all-wheel drive E 400 delivered a thrilling drive with grippy handling and a sporty exhaust note that easily raises the heartbeat rate.

With these hi-tech enhancements possible in the E-Class, expect full autonomous driving cars to be knocking on our doors in the near future.