We may not live in the futuristic realm of the Jetsons yet, but we are living at a time in which technology seems out of this world. Nowhere is that more clear than in the laboratories and think tanks of Mercedes-Benz. With cars that can think faster than the human brain, excitement is high for the 10th generation of the Mercedes E-Class series, which will no doubt prompt people to line up just to see how cool – and safe – a motor vehicle can be. And the best place to see it with your own eyes is Mercedes-Benz of North Orlando on Rinehart Road.
“This is the most technically advanced car we’ve ever had,” says general manager Walter Grundorf of the 2017 four-cylinder turbo E300 sedan, which is chock-full of safety and convenience features that Mercedes-Benz packages as Intelligent Drive. “We are at the cutting edge of technology. Mercedes loves innovation.”
The E-Class series, which Walter says is the dealership’s bread and butter, is also known for being fuel-efficient while offering abundant horsepower. They are sporty, yet casual driving machines fashioned by engineers who believe safety is paramount.
Among the high-tech features of the new E300 sedan are brake assist, parking assist, collision mitigation, and drive pilot – this car can actually read speed limit signs.
“This goes way beyond cruise control,” Walter says, adding that the sedan also saves fuel by shutting itself off when stopped at a red light. A 3-D camera system sees and senses everything around the vehicle. “The cameras see and process faster than our brains. They react before you can go from the gas pedal to the brake pedal.”
What this all means is that cars are becoming better drivers than we will ever be. Walter does explain, however, that these new high-tech vehicles are designed to assist with driving, not to drive for you. Those autonomous driving technologies will slowly, but surely, be incorporated into all E-Class vehicles when the technology is ready.
Until that time, if you do remove your hands from the steering wheel of the E300, it will temporarily drive for you, but after 60 seconds, it warns you to replace your hands on the steering wheel or the car will shut off. That feature protects against a medical emergency, such as the driver experiencing a heart attack.
Here are some standard and optional Intelligent Drive features of the 2017 E300. Any of these elements can be overridden by the owner.
Pre-Safe: A network of sensors detects an imminent accident and tightens seat belts, adjusts headrests, and closes windows and sunroofs to prepare the car and its occupants for the collision.
Pre-Safe Sound: Speakers emit a sound when an accident occurs, which essentially closes passengers’ eardrums, cutting damaging noise exposure by 40 percent.
Active Brake Assist: Activates the brakes when the system senses an accident is imminent.
Options: Premium 3 Package
Active Brake Assist with Cross Traffic Function: Senses crossing traffic and bicycles up to 45 mph, as well as pedestrians. The system warns the driver visually and audibly, then assists with braking.
Pre-Safe Impulse Side: If the car is about to be T-boned, the system increases the distance between the occupants and the doors by pushing occupants toward the middle of the vehicle.
Evasive Steering Assist: If a pedestrian suddenly appears in front of your car and you swerve, the vehicle will assist in keeping the car under control.
Parking assist: Beyond the technology of autonomous parallel parking, the E300 will also find a parking space for you.
Steering Pilot with Active Lane Change Assist: This helps keep the vehicle in the center of the driver’s lane by sensing road markings and other vehicles. It also assists with changing lanes.
Drive Pilot: A higher-tech cruise control, your car will follow other cars, slowing and speeding up automatically. If no cars are in sight, it reads speed limit signs.
If we are to reach the space-age lifestyle of the Jetsons any time soon, it will no doubt be Mercedes-Benz that takes the lead. As Karl Benz wrote on the wall of his workshop more than 150 years ago: “The best or nothing.”