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The Warsaw Voice » Society » October 14, 2009
Mercedes E-350 CDI Avantgarde
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And When You Really Need a Coffee Break...
October 14, 2009 By Bartosz Grzybiński   
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The Mercedes E-Class range has long been setting the pace when it comes to comfort, safety and environmental friendliness for executive vehicles. The status that comes with owning a vehicle with the tri-star mascot on the hood is merely an added bonus.

The Mercedes E-Class is the most important range of passenger vehicles in the Daimler-Benz stable. The "E" designation has only been in official use since 1993. Before that, the vehicles bore the letter "W" and a string of digits.

The Mercedes 170 was the first passenger vehicle the company produced after the war. This model was unveiled in 1947 and was factory-coded W136. The era of comfortable limousines, however, dawned in 1953 when the 180 (W120), better known as the "Ponton," was released. The modern, self-supporting, aerodynamically designed frame body that gave the car its colloquial appellation ushered in a new age in motor vehicles. Mercedes has continued to be a trailblazer in pressing the latest technical achievements into service through the succeeding six generations. These have included four- and five-cylinder diesel engines, turbodiesel engines, Common Rail direct fuel injection diesel, 4WD, crumple zones, disk brakes, seatbelts, and the Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

The new model strutted the profile and styling it had inherited from its illustrious predecessors at the Geneva Motor Show in spring this year. The body is 487 cm long, which may or may not appeal depending on taste but there can be no denying the appeal of an air drag coefficient of cW=0.25.

The interior is spacious and comfortable. The car can seat five passengers comfortably and the trunk is 540l. There has been no stinting on the finishing or the fitting of the individual components. Safety equipment is comprehensive and includes front, side and curtain airbags as well as ABS/ESP systems. The driver knee airbag, the hood that rises when a pedestrian is hit, and the "Attention Assist" system, which analyzes the behavior of the driver during the trip, are all new. This last is made possible by the sensors of the 70-plus computers on board which, in addition to continuously analyzing the vehicle's systems and components, keep tabs on what the driver is up to. For example, if the driver is dozing off and starting to react slowly to traffic situations, the clock displays a coffee mug and recommends a break. So much for standard features. There are additional options to refit the car with systems like the Distronic Plus radar assisted system that maintains a constant distance from the car ahead and the Pre-Safe accident anticipation system that automatically applies the brakes, Blind Spot Assist, Night View Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist to warn the driver against inadvertently changing lanes by steering wheel vibrations.

The body is rigid, being made of 70 percent high grade steel. The wheelbase is a sizable 2,874 mm and the suspension system has been modernized with adaptive shock absorbers. All this provides for exceptionally comfortable driving. Airmatic air suspension is also available as an option. This adapts its operating characteristics to the quality of the road and the style of driving. The driver can set Airmatic to operate so as to optimize the vehicle's performance, comfort or clearance with the press of a button on the central panel. The Parktronic system, which consists of parking sensors and a camera, is a godsend when cruising around town.

An electrical package, automatic air conditioning and an audio/CD system all come as standard in this class as well. Among the many additional extras Mercedes throw in, the multi-contoured Nappa leather front seats, which adjust themselves to the body of the driver and have seven-zone massage functions, the Alcantara (a type of suede) ceiling and the Thermotronic four-zone air-conditioning add a touch of luxury.

There is a choice of three proven gasoline engines and four modern, environmentally-friendly BlueEFFICIENCY turbodiesel engines. The Common Rail diesel engines are fuel efficient and comply with the Euro 5 emissions standards.

The 231 hp 7-speed automatic E-350 CDI test-drive model consumed a mere 7.5 liters per 100 km. This model boasts some impressive technical specifications. The car has a top speed of 248 kph and takes less than 7 seconds to reach 100 kph from a standing start with a maximum torque of 540 Nm that kicks in at 1,600-2,400 rpm. And all that despite carrying a gross weight of 1,825 kg.

Driving the new E-Class is an exhilarating experience, as well as a safe and comfortable one.
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