Anyone who's taken even a few taxi rides in Germany is sure to have ridden in an E-class Mercedes. As the taxi driver's favorite model, a good many of the more than 13 Mmillion E-classes that Mercedes has sold to date have served as cabs. They have a reputation as highly robust. Some are even said to have clocked up 700-thousand kilometers or more.
Change of scenery: the coast of Portugal, where the weather is noticeably warmer – and where Mercedes is presenting its new Generation E class. Car tester Sascha Knapp realizes that many viewers will be reminded of a taxi, and in this model, the driver quickly starts feeling more like a passenger. But the question is, would the driver really want that?
Sascha Knapp's going to try out the car's semi-autonomous driving system. It's available up to 210 kilometers per hour on the highway. But it's supposed to work for city driving, as well. 210 kilometers per hour isn't allowed in Portugal, so he'll start off a bit more leisurely.
He pulls this lever on the steering column twice to switch the system on. He can take both feet off the pedals and even let go of the wheel. And it actually stays in the lane on its own.
The driver should keep both hands on the wheel. After all, he's in control – not Mercedes.
The driver can set the distance to other cars on the road with the same lever.
The Drive Pilot uses sensors and cameras to detect road markings and other cars. So even in stop-and-go traffic in town, the Mercedes can pace the car in front as if on an invisible towline. The system can recognize and keep the lane up to 130 kilometers per hour .
Sascha explains that the new Drive Pilot also supports automatic lane changing. This means the driver has the option of changing lanes simply by activating the turn signal lever. All you have to do is hold it for two seconds in the direction you want to go, and the car itself carries out the maneuver.
The driver may not have even seen the overtaking car, but the Drive Pilot will've already had a fix on it and breaks off its own passing maneuver. And the driver can try again right away by holding the lever for two seconds.
If the driver stops reacting at all, the car will sound an alert, quickly bring itself to a stop and turn the flashers on. But it won't leave the lane by itself, because it has no way of knowing what the surface there is like. And if the car started swerving, it could be a real problem.
Sascha sums up, saying the new E-class's active steering takes some getting-used-to at high speeds. The driver has to build a level of trust in the car. For him personally, the starting price is a bit too steep, especially since it includes none of the high-tech gadgetry. He's hoping the Drive Pilot will eventually find its way into other Mercedes models. Then he might find one right for him.