In a decade or two – maybe three – we will look back at how we used to bullet towards each other in tin cans at a combined speed of two hundred kilometers per hour and more.
We can bemoan crime around Africa and the world, but the most dangerous thing we do (apart from cave diving) is quietly press the start button of our car.
Globally around 1.3 million people die in road accidents every year and well over 20 million are disabled.
And while the glorious new future of autonomous driving awaits, for now manufacturers make their vehicles as safe as they can and (at a price) install a range of amazing collision avoidance features that seems to grow by the month.
Volvo have set the bar incredibly high with their vision that by 2020 nobody should be seriously injured or killed in one of their new cars.
But it’s the Mercedes Benz E-Class saloon that makes the top three in the world of safety as rated by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) after a series of test crashes.
What impressed the testers was the PRE-SAFE system which magically detects if an accident is imminent by the way the car is being driven. It automatically tightens the seatbelts, closes the windows and sunroof and even adjusts the seats to the optimum position.
Now PRE-SAFE even links with the new Mercedes “me connect” evolution. The new brand with the guiding principle of “the best for me” means you can interact with your car, the dealership, Mercedes Assistance… maybe even Mars in the five areas of mobility, connectivity, service, financing and inspiration.
There have already been cases where the emergency call system has been triggered automatically by PRE-SAFE after an accident and assistance dispatched within seconds.
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On a less dramatic level: You leave your car with your husband (now that’s a PC thought) and while sitting at your board meeting in London you can see on your smartphone that the left back tyre is under inflated and the fuel is low. And, because he is so absentminded, you lock the car with a flick of the screen and tell him its Uber from now on!
By now you may be thinking that the E-class is a nanny sedan. Well let’s dispel that idea in far less than 140 characters. Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4MATIC+.
The most powerful E-class of all time, with the new and versatile 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 under that sculpted bonnet, will take you to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds. And then show its softer, efficient personality by deactivating cylinders when you haven’t got right foot frenzy.
It just lapped up Kyalami with a terribly nervous instructor in the passenger seat and I haven’t had as much fun on a track since the Audi R8 V10. That clever 4MATIC+ fellow seems to counter most driving sins.
According to the specs, this brand new all-wheel drive system is fully variable for the first time, instead of favoring the rear axles when dishing out power. Which means, if I’ve got it right, that the electronics are working overtime to make sure that you are getting the best traction, on every wheel, on every road surface.
So, if you want performance with a touch of class, and also need to get two kids to school, you may have to part with $142,000 and order this beast. But it is not all that easy. Because flattering its xenon headlights in the wings is one of the most mouth-gaping Mercs on the market.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé gives new meaning to style. It had distinguished parentage with the E-Class winning the 2017 World Luxury Car Award.
Upfront is trademark Merc with the Diamond grille that Mark Fetherston and his design team boldly fronted the new CLA with in 2013. Even back then some scribes found it a tad brash, but it has certainly lasted the pace!
So you will probably only appreciate the exquisite lines of the coupé when you draw alongside and get mesmerized by the smooth flowing lines all the way to the cloned C-Class tail.
The frameless windows are accentuated by a polished aluminium strip that runs the perimeter of this very lean profile and also highlights the elongated doors which allow (fairly) easy access to the rear seats.
It is longer and slightly wider than the saloon with a decent amount of legroom for a long stretch of misery like myself.
If there is any bad news, it’s the fact that there is no four-liter AMG version. Your top choice is the E 400 4MATIC with a three-liter V6 turbo with respectable acceleration of 5.3 seconds and a smaller dent in your bank account – $78,000.
And if impressing at the lights really isn’t your game, the Merc E-200 Coupe comes in at $57,000 with the E 220d and E300 lining up in the power ranks.
Looking at the balance sheet, Daimler AG announced that net profit doubled in the first three months of the year, rising from $1.6 billion in the last quarter of 2016 to $3.2 billion. Revenue rose 11% to $44 billion.
The reason? CEO Dieter Zetsche gave full credit to the strong sales of the E-Class and its advanced driver-assistance and safety features. Just a shame that, as with most marques, advanced safety has to come in at a price.
The Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+ and the E 400 4MATIC Coupé are destined to keep the cash register ticking.
And it is something of a birthday gift. It’s the 50th anniversary of AMG performance and the quirkily named “Stroke Eight Coupé” was launched in 1968.
A couple of golden anniversaries indeed. – Written by Derek Watts