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I was able to go for a test drive and the ride is fantastic! Much like the diesel, if you didn’t know it was hybrid you really wouldn’t notice any difference in the way it drives. It is obviously a little quieter when the gas motor is off but with the radio on you can’t tell when it turnes the engine on and off. The power was fantastic. It didn’t feel heavy or lacking in any way. The brake feel is different than our other vehicles because they are electric but it stopped just fine.
The (997) Driver Assistance Package is priced at $2900 and consists of
– Distronic Plus with PRE-SAFE Brake
– Blind Spot Assist
– Lane Keeping Assist
Let’s take them one at a time…
Distronic Plus with PRE-SAFE Brake – Distronic is the radar adaptive cruise control system that we have had for years. It uses radar sensors mounted behind the front grille to sense the car in front of you and maintain a set following distance. So, if you set your cruise at 70 mph and a car in front of you slows to 60 mph, you also slow to 60 mph until that car speeds up or you switch to an open lane and you’ll resume 70 mph. The Plus part of Distronic Plus is that it works down to a complete stop. This is amazing and takes a little time to fully trust. For example, I drive home on a fast highway with 4 stoplights. I set the cruise at 70 and followed the car in front of me at a distance of about 100 yards. As the car in front of me slows and comes to a stop for the first traffic light the 2010 E350 also slows to a complete stop. The system’s following distance is proportional to your speed so you it will bring you to a stop at a normal distance from the car that you are following. If the system keeps you stopped for more than a couple seconds you just have to just tap the gas to resume your previously set maximum speed and following distance. For anyone who spends any time on the highways around Atlanta this feature will completely change your driving experience. Since this system will allow you to use the ‘cruise control’ in many more situations I would also expect to see an increase in fuel mileage versus a E-Class not using this system.
PRE-SAFE Brake uses the same radar systems to constantly monitor the area in front of your E-Class. Using its long, medium, and short range radar systems it can detect objects as far as 200 yards in front of your vehicle. Pre-Safe braking is deployed in three stages. When the car detects that you are 2.6 seconds from an impact you will receive an audible and visual alert. At 1.6 seconds to impact there are 3 audible alerts and the system will automatically apply 40% of maximum power and activate the other reversible PRE-SAFE protection features like adjusting seat position, tensioning seat belts, and closing the windows. If the driver doesn’t press the brake pedal or swerve to avoid the collision at 0.6 seconds to impact PRE-SAFE Braking will apply the maximum braking force to greatly reduce the severity of a collision.
Another manufacturer is advertising a system like this but it only works at speeds below about 20 mph. Our system works on moving objects when you’re traveling from 19mph to 124mph and on stationary objects when you’re traveling below 44mph. Just like seatbelts, airbags, and ABS brakes this technology that is now exclusive to Mercedes-Benz will someday be standard on every vehicle, as it will certainly save lives.
Lane Keep Assist – Using a windshield mounted camera, Lane Keeps Assist alerts you when you are drifting out of your lane. It takes into account your speed and turning angle to only alert you when you are unintentionally changing lanes. It uses three short vibrations in the steering wheel that feel a lot like rumble strips and are only noticeable to the driver. The system can also distinguish between solid and broken white lines and vary its alert timing. This system operates above 37mph so you won’t have to worry about it annoying you in parking lots. The system will also not activate if it believes that you are intentionally crossing based on your turn signal, brake, and accelerator usage.
I was able to visit the Fuel Cell Development center when I visited Germany last year. I saw all of the vehicles that they show in this video and went for a ride in one of the fuel cell equipped B-Classes. It was seamless, impressive and entirely believable as a daily driver. Mercedes has also put fuel cells into commercial busses and delivery vehicles all over Europe. As this technology gains recognition and passes all of these tests it may become the most viable of the alternative fuel sources available now.
A customer of Atlanta Classic Cars went off the side of the road, overcorrected, crossed the road and hit a tree head-on at about 50 miles per hour. She had some surgery on her hand and her leg but will make a full recovery. The fireman told her husband that the tree tried to kill her and the car saved her life.
Notice in the pictures how some of the engine moved up and some moved down but nothing entered the passenger cabin. The most amazing thing to me is that all four doors open smoothly. With the entire front end crumpled, the passenger compartment was not compromised. Except for the mud, the inside of the car looks almost new!
And the story has a happy ending…She bought a brand new C300 over the weekend!
A customer e-mailed me last week to ask if the iPhone cradle they saw on Ebay would work in their car. Even though I had written about this part when Mercedes announced it I had never actually used one. I had my parts department order one for me and was able to test it today.
This cradle is designed to plug into the MHI port in most 2007-2008 vehicles and the 2009 S and CL. Any car that would use a bluetooth adaptor, what I call a “puck,” could use this cradle. This cradle is NOT compatible with the 3G iPhone. The 3G iPhone is too wide to fit into the cradle. There is a rumor of a 3G version but it doesn’t seem to be avaliable in the US yet. So, you plug the cradle into the car, synch the bluetooth and you now have a bluetooth adaptor that will also charge your iPhone as opposed to the normal puck that does not charge your iPhone. That seems to be the main benefit.
The instruction booklet also states that “If your vehicle is equipped with an iPod Integration Kit, it is possible to access the iPod functions of the iPhone in the cradle via the COMAND system…after an additional connection between the cradle and the iPod Integration Kit has been installed. A competent installation by a qualified specialist workshop must be performed for the connection of the iPhone Cradle to the iPod Interface Kit.” What that means is that you can’t just plug it in and start using it as both the phone and the iPod. You would have to take it out of the cradle and plug it into the kit to play music unless you pay the labor (and parts?) at the shop for them to re-wire it.
Also, I thought the plug on the side of the cradle (show above on the left) looked familiar. It is the same plug that the Multimedia Interface Cable or iPod/MP3 Adaptor Cable uses to plug into 2009 vehicles with the NTG 2.5 COMAND system (2009 ML, GL, R, E, SL, SLK). If you unplug the Multimedia Interface Cable and plug in the iPhone cradle you can access the iPod functionality of the iPhone and stay connected via bluetooth (shown below). This is not an improvement. You can already plug the iPhone directly into the Multimedia Interface Cable and do the same thing. The instruction booklet makes no mention of this extra cord on the side. Strange.
So, in summary… You cannot use this accessory with the 3G iPhone. You cannot use it with a 2008 or 2009 C-Class (no MHI). It is pretty useless for a 2009 ML, GL, R, E, SL and SLK. If you use an iPhone and would like it to charge in the car and you drive a 2007-2009 S or CL or a 2007-2008 E, ML, GL, or SL you might like it. Please consult with your parts department to definitely determine compatibility.
Mercedes-Benz has always had an eye on being a green company. From the vehicles they build to the factories they build them in, Mercedes is environmentally responsible and forward thinking. They have recently updated a portion of MBUSA.com to highlight some of their accomplishments. The Thinking GREEN section talks about the clean-burning diesel vehicles, the flex-fuel capability of the C-Class and the upcoming hybrid models. It also delves into manufacturing process and corporate initiatives. I found this to be very informative. You can visit it directly here.