2017 Mercedes-Benz E300

Test Drive: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300

Sitting there in the yard all elegant and full of grace and wearing a pristine white coat, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4MATIC, patiently waits for the photo session to end so we can go on an adventure together.

If you thought the previous E was a beauty, its new sibling is a bit more elegant, a bit prettier and wears richer accessories (with some AMG bits) and more protective gear. It’s a whole lot smarter, has a sense of independence and carries a big purse full of techie stuff!

She’s lighter, too, having shed 150 lb. thanks to using more aluminum (front fenders, hood, trunk lid, big bits of its rear panels) and high-strength steel.

Wheelbase has increased by 2.6 inches (66 mm) and length by 1.7 inches (43 mm) to 115.7 (2,939 mm) and 193.8 (4,923 mm) respectively. Girth is about the same and the track is slightly wider.

Looking into that bag, I see a long list of driver aids and nannies and safety systems which make her a bit of a back seat driver – in a good way of course.

The test vehicle came with Premium Package ($5,100) and Intelligent Drive Package ($3,000). And that white coat cost $1,600. Add in $500 for AMG 5-spoke wheels and her price tag went from $61,200 to $71,400, plus delivery, PDI and taxes.

She’s costly, comfy, entertaining (with mild annoyances) and safety conscious to a fault, but more about that later.

I got the opportunity to have a couple of dates with this lady in white. Once in the fall as pictured and again later in the year on a run from Winnipeg to Saskatoon when the weather was less welcoming.

Good weather, bad weather, the impression was the same. I like this lovely sedan.

The interior boasts those seats I mentioned, power everything, lovely ambient lighting, easy to read gauges, panoramic sun roof, split/folding rear seats, navigation and an entertainment system with 12.3-inch display. The Burmester Surround Sound system is brilliant and the heated steering wheel is welcome when the temperatures drop.

My quibble with all this is that accessing some of the things I want can be frustrating. Even after two dates, she was reluctant to hold hands electronically speaking, especially with the audio system.

Under her bonnet is a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 241 horsepower and 273 lb. ft. of torque that puts to the 4MATIC drive system through a silky smooth nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Considering its small size, the engine provides spunky response to throttle demands.

On the highway the E300 has a smooth, almost soothing, ride. When vicious cross-winds make the scene, the cross-wind assist program keeps us on course without constant steering corrections.

But it’s the near-autonomous features that make this a special kind of car.

The Intelligent Drive Package adds new Evasive Steering assist and Pre-Safe Impulse Side, front bolsters that reduce the effects of a side impact. Pre-Safe Sound helps prevent hearing damage by preconditioning your ears’ natural defenses right before a collision occurs.

The radar-base Drive Pilot system includes Distance Pilot adaptive cruise control and Steering Pilot works with Active Lane Keeping to help keep you centred in your lane to the point that you can take your hands off the wheel for a brief period – even around corners – before you’re told to take control.

On multi-lane highways, blind spot monitoring and a new Active Lane Change Assist watch your every move. Cross Traffic Assist and Pedestrian Recognition watch for vehicles and people in your path.

Evasive steering assist adds steering torque to driver-initiated evasive manoeuvres and supplements active brake assist if the driver suddenly initiates steering around a pedestrian.

It will not take evasive steering action on its own, however.

Why, the E300 will even park itself.

With all this (and more) the car is easy to drive and inspires a certain confidence that may, under certain circumstances, be misguided.

The car keeps an eye on your performance – or lack of it – behind the wheel and will suggest that its time to take a break.

I like this car. I like the comfort, the audio, and so many of the other convenience features. I like to drive it. I even like to just ride in it.

But here comes the deal-breaker: The Distance Pilot apparently becomes bored if it doesn’t see anything ahead for awhile and it decides to take a break.

The driver info centre beeps and cuts off the cruise control with a message that says “Sensors dirty. See owners’ manual.”

The first couple of times I dutifully stop and clean the sensors. But after awhile it becomes obvious I’m going to get this message even when conditions were perfect, so I decide to just proceed without speed control.

But hark! In 10 to 15 minutes or so there’s another beep and the message says the system is available! Then awhile later, I the pilot cuts out again and after a break comes back. There’s no apparent set distance, time or speed involved in this odd behaviour.

What the heck? If I was an owner, I’d be into the dealership to find out what’s wrong.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300
Price as tested (before taxes): $71,400
Freight: N/A
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0L turbocharged 4 cyl./ nine-speed automatic
Power/torque: 241 hp/ 273 lb-ft
Fuel (Capacity): Premium (66L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.4
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 10.3
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km comprehensive
Competitors: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, Genesis G90, Lincoln Continental, Volvo S90

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