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IT is not unusual for each new Mercedes-Benz model to debut with the latest in safety technology, but the new E-Class still surprises with its ability to protect even your ears. The latest mid-size sedan from the brand with the three-pointed star introduces Pre-Safe Sound - an extension of its Pre-Safe preventive occupant protection system which detects an imminent collision and minimises injury by taking pre-emptive measures such as pre-tensioning the seat belts and moving the front passenger seat into the upright position.
With Pre-Safe Sound, an interference signal is emitted through the audio system before impact to trigger a muscle reflex and prepare the ears for the expected sound of the accident, thus reducing damage to hearing.
It, er, sounds great but even that is not as impressive as the new E-Class itself, which is bigger, comfier and has so many bells and whistles it could rival the flagship S-Class.
Even its smooth styling has taken a leaf out of big brother's book, with a class-leading 0.23 drag coefficient.
The 10th-generation of one of the most popular saloons in the world is now 43mm longer at 4,923mm, with its wheelbase stretched 65mm to an extensive 2,939mm.
Rear legroom is noticeably improved and so is the ride comfort, with new sculpted seats that are ergonomically structured but strategically padded for both softness and stability.
Like the S-Class, the cabin is a picture of modern luxury. The swoopy lines and upscale trim include an ignition button whose "turbine blades" glow and pulse. And oh, the LED interior lighting has a palette of 64 colours.
Most impressive though are the innovative controls and equipment. What immediately stands out is the super widescreen cockpit. It actually comprises two 12.3-inch hi-res displays, juxtaposed to replace the traditional instrument cluster and centre screen.
This S$4,100 option is aesthetically pleasing, with its choice of different styles of virtual instruments.
Clever touch-sensitive Touch Controls on the steering wheel are swiped left/right or up/down to preview the on-screen information available on the instrument side. For the other display, there is the usual touchpad and controller combo on the lower centre console, which is also where the Dynamic Select switch is.
The Mercedes-Benz E200 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine mated to an amazing nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission with variable damping, Dynamic Select allows the engine, gearbox and suspension to be tweaked to suit different tastes. A novel multi-chamber air suspension is a S$9,100 option but the entry-level E200's ride quality is undeniably superior.
From the rear seat, the E200 is a smoother and quieter experience.
From behind the wheel, Sport+ and Sport driving modes tighten steering response and body control for sharper handling. But the ride manages to remain pleasantly cushioned.
Best of all, the comfortable E200 is so well-balanced that it will take a sweeping curve with confidence.
Part of the E200 package includes several assistance programmes such as Pre-Safe, Active Brake Assist, Parking Pilot and a 360-degree camera. Active Brake Assist includes the autonomous braking function that works at speeds of up to 200kmh.
That these safety technologies are standard equipment is no surprise. What is, though, is the big leap in innovation and styling that the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has made.
Mercedes-Benz E200 Exclusive
Engine: 1,991cc inline-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 9-speed 9G-Tronic transmission
Max power: 184 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max torque: 300 Nm @ 1,200-4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh: 7.7 secs
Top speed: 240 kmh
CO2 emissions: 149 g/km
Average OMV: S$54,000
Price: S$272,888 (with COE)
Distributor: Cycle & Carriage