The New Mercedes-Benz A-Class: What can we say other than what a truly amazing piece of automotive engineering.
2019 is the year that you’ll be able to get behind the wheel of one of the best prestige hybrid or all-electric vehicles. Already released are Mercedes’ E Class Hybrids with the E300e (petrol hybrid) and E300de (diesel hybrid) now available in both saloon and estate body styles. Still to come are the EQC – an all-electric SUV, the C Class plug, and A, B, GLC and GLE Class plugins. You can expect to see them by the end of this year. Next year will bring a pure electric version of the V Class, promising to challenge what drivers can expect from the MPV category.
While Mercedes-Benz has given drivers an electric option for their cars for the past five years, the newest additions to the range offer an all-electric commute to those wishing to reduce their emissions to zero.
Mercedes-Benz E Class Hybrids
The new E 300e has a four-cylinder petrol engine producing 208bhp and a 121bhp electric motor for a combined output of 315bhp and 700Nm of torque. This combination allows the E 300e to go from 0 to 62mph in just six seconds and reach a top speed of 155mph while emitting a trifling 45g per kilometre of CO2. The compact battery provides 30 miles of all-electric travel with the touch of a button and charges from 10% full to 100% in less than two hours using a 7.4 kW charger.
The diesel version of the Hybrid E Class is the most economical of all E Class vehicles – The 194bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is paired with a 122bhp electric motor and 13.5kWh battery, giving it 166.2mpg. It too can reach a top speed of 155mph and accelerates from 0 – 62mph in under six seconds.
Inside you can expect the high standard of luxury that’s synonymous with the Mercedes-Benz brand. You’ll be surrounded by high-quality materials, attractive finishes and advanced technology. The entry-level SE model comes with a widescreen display for car instruments and infotainment uses, front and rear parking sensors, electrically adjustable heated front seats and parking assistance features.
If you’re looking for a sportier style, opt for the AMG Line.
Still to Come…
If you’re in the market for an entry-level Mercedes-Benz hybrid model, you’ve a little longer to wait. The A-Class is expected to go into production around the middle of the year. It’s rumoured to have an all-new plug-in hybrid powertrain and combine a 163bhp version of the marque’s 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 90bhp electric motor. The petrol engine is expected to throw power to the front wheels while the electric motor will provide drive exclusively to the rear wheels. This set-up provides four-wheel drive capability, giving the A Class an upgrade of more than just electric capability.
The EQC – Mercedes’ all-electric SUV – is arguably the most exciting addition for the manufacturer and will be the first dedicated electric Mercedes model to enter series production. With seating for five and 79 litres more luggage space than the GLC, the EQC will count versatility among its strongest selling points.
Powered by a newly developed electric drivetrain consisting of two electric motors – one powering the front wheels and the other the rear, this configuration enables four-wheel drive capability, depending on the driving mode. In Sport mode, the EQC can sprint from 0 to 62mph in just over five seconds and reach a top speed of 112mph.
The SUV doesn’t skimp on power either; it has a towing capacity of 1800kg and a 515kg payload. The range of 249 miles on the WLTP cycle, means the EQC should be able to traverse around 200 miles of real-world range per charge, making this the all-electric SUV to keep an eye out for.
If you believe the headlines in the papers, you may be anticipating the arrival of fully driverless vehicles on our roads at the end of the year. The UK government has already legislated for advanced trails of autonomous vehicles on our roads – but is the technology up to expectations?
Autonomous Car Technology
To make a car truly autonomous and able to drive without any need for human intervention, a LOT of different technology is required. The vehicle needs to be able to ‘see’ and understand its surroundings – signs, traffic lights and road layout, to name just a few. It also needs to be able to regulate its speed, know where it is going and correctly identify obstacles like cyclists and pedestrians so it’s safe for passengers and other road users. With all of that input, the car needs to be able to make sound judgements that reduce the risk of accidents, if not eradicate them completely.
The DfT has also specified that driverless cars must also collect data such as speed, braking commands and the presence of other road users, so a high level of cybersecurity needs to be included in a driverless car’s technological stack to ensure cars can’t be ‘hacked’ and have their safety compromised.
At present, the technology required to enable truly autonomous vehicles – the kind that will drive you to work while you catch up on sleep or emails – just isn’t there, yet. No matter what the political will is, further development by car manufacturers and software houses is needed.
The Steps toward a Driverless Future
To understand how close, or how far away, we are from truly driverless vehicles, it is useful to understand the different levels of autonomy that need to be mastered before cars are able to do our bidding. SAE International, a global association of engineers and technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries have put together a handy guide on the five levels of autonomy and what they mean for a driverless future.
Starting at 0 – no automation and finishing at five – full automation, the path toward a driverless future includes four incremental steps. These steps are necessary for the development of the technology as well as wider public acceptance of it.
Driver assistance packages like cruise control are considered to be level 1. Level 2 – partial automation – involves both steering and speed being controlled by autonomous systems; like Mercedes-Benz’s Lane Keeping Assist, Reverse parking assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Level 3 is also referred to as partial automation but at a slightly higher level. The driving system needs to monitor the surroundings and respond to them in an intelligent way using Artificial Intelligence (AI). With level 3 autonomy, the human driver is only there to intervene should things go awry and this is where most testing is now taking place. Level 4 and 5 autonomous tech is yet to be released or reliably developed – neither requires the intervention of a human driver.
Given the scale of the technological task and where we currently sit within the levels of autonomy needed to see driverless car on our roads – either in a commercial or private capacity – it’s unlikely you’ll be commanding an AI Jeeves to take you to work, or drive your children to school by the end of 2021, but sometime between 2025 and 2030 you may well relinquish control to your car.
Since the invention of the three-point seatbelt or Bela Barenyi’s crumple zone to enhance vehicle safety, safety technology has come a long way. Anti-lock braking systems, airbags and electronic stability control are now all mandatory for all cars sold within the UK, but what about other technologies that are designed to make the way you drive safer? This article looks at the top five safety features available in cars today and how they improve safety for you and other road users.
Referred to as Distronic Plus by Mercedes Benz, adaptive cruise control systems use forward sensor technologies to maintain a safe distance between you and the car ahead, up to a chosen maximum speed.
Not only helpful on motorways, adaptive cruise control aids drivers in heavy stop-start traffic too, slowing your car when the one in front reduces its speed and speeding up again when it’s safe to do so.
Lane Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist
While a common feature for prestige vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz for some time, Lane Assist can now be found in many other new cars. When you drift out of your motorway lane, an alert will be given in the form of a buzzing sound, vibrating seat or steering wheel so you can correct your course.
Active Lane Keeping Assist goes one step further and will gently adjust your steering if you wander and don’t respond to the vehicle’s alerts, making sure you hold your position when travelling at higher speeds.
Reverse Parking Assistance
Reverse parallel parking is arguably one of the more difficult driving manoeuvres. However, reverse parking technology now makes this a breeze and can be found in many manufacturers’ models, including Mercedes-Benz. At the touch of a button and a gentle depression of the accelerator, your car will reverse steer itself into the car parking space you’ve found; relegating parking dints and scrapes to history.
Rear Cross-traffic Assistance
Mercedes-Benz combines this feature with their blind spot assist so you get both together, along with autonomous braking if needed. Rear-cross traffic assist (and blind spot assist) relies on in-built sensors that monitor the area at the rear sides of your car and notify you with both visual and audible alerts if another car is coming.
Automatic Crash Response
When things do go wrong, time is often of the essence and the speed that emergency services are notified and able to reach the scene can be the difference between life and death. Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call has been included as standard in all models since September 2014 and enables precise details of the car’s location, travel direction and extent of the damage to be sent to an emergency services advisor at the touch of a button.
This feature has such a positive impact on the results of accidents that the EU voted for these systems to be made mandatory in all new cars from the 31st of March last year.
While each of these features is designed to enhance the safety of vehicles, it is important to understand how they work, and when they aren’t in operation. A study carried out by the American AAA Foundation and the University of Iowa found that as many as 80% of drivers relied on their vehicle safety and driver assistance packages a little too much – in some instances neglecting to carry out their own over the shoulder visual checks for motorcycles and pedestrians. The resulting report encouraged new car owners to read up on their car’s safety devices, ask their car dealers or car leasing company questions about these features, and make sure they understood the types of conditions they would and wouldn’t work in.
Our team at Mercedes on Lease are happy to answer any questions about the safety features of your Mercedes-Benz, or leasing conditions if you are considering leasing your next new car to access some of the latest safety technology available.