Yes, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a C-Class matryoshka. But a fully autonomous one!

Many, including ourselves, have already expressed concern about how similar Mercedes-Benz sedan are getting. The C-Class was like a smaller scale S-Class and now the new generation E-Class is like a bigger C-Class. Their platform is already the same one, the MRA. Autocar has even released this brilliant analysis of what they call “the Russian Doll strategy”. The fact is that the matryoshka E-Class hides many important differences from its bigger and smaller siblings. And the most important one is that it is considered by Mercedes-Benz as the first fully autonomous vehicle for sale. Check the video below:

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler CEO, makes a bold statement when the says the car is “basically fully autonomous”, even if only on freeways and highways and with legal restrictions to operate. And we have no reasons to doubt the car can really guide itself in such conditions, especially in the boring long straights that are more effective than sleeping pills.

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The W213 E-Class is 4.92 m long, 1.95 m wide, 1.47 m tall and has a wheelbase of 2.94 m. It will initially be sold with only two engines, a 2.0 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that generates 135 kW at 5,500 rpm and 300 Nm between 1,250 rpm and 4,000 rpm, for the E 200, and a new 2.0 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine for the E 220 d, which delivers 143 kW and 400 Nm.

In the near future, two other trims will be released. The E 350 d will feature a 3.0 V6 turbodiesel that pumps out 190 kW and 620 Nm, while the plug-in hybrid version of the car, called E 350 e, will have a 30 km pure electric range. The gasoline engine, the same 2.0 turbo petrol engine used by the E 200, but with an increased power, of 155 kW. We will love to check on the version’s full specs when it is released, since most hybrid vehicles use Atkinson cycle engines and get less power instead of more. The electric provides additional 65 KW, bringing the total availability of power to 210 kW, due to losses in the integration of both engines.

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All engines will come with the new 9G-Tronic, a 9-speed automatic transmission that tends to replace the 7G-Tronic currently used by other Mercedes-Benz models.

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The new E-Class presents the impressive drag coefficient of 0.23, a multi-chamber air suspension called AIR BODY CONTROL and the DRIVE PILOT, the autonomous mode that Zetsche was referring to. It can follow vehicles ahead at speeds of up to 210 km/h or at 130 km/h in a road with defective or non existing lines painted on the tarmac. It automatically adjusts the speed to the maximum permitted by reading traffic signs, it changes lanes when the driver uses the turn signals for at least two seconds, after detecting the lane is unoccupied, and can perform some other minor tasks. Apparently, if legislation allows for autonomous driving in the near future, E-Class owners will only have to unleash the capabilities the multiple sensors and software could already give the car.

In case you want to see more pictures of the new E-Class, have a look at our previous article about it.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.