Skip to main content
car review
Mercedes-Benz

This, friends, is the future of driving.

We’re in the large, empty parking lot of an office complex near the airport, riding shotgun as the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 4MATIC handles all the driving duties. As we sit in the back and check our iPhones, the ultra-intelligent sedan stops itself, parks itself and performs other parlour tricks.

Disclaimer: A technician sat behind the wheel in case anything went sideways.

Representatives from the manufacturer are quick to say the E-Class is not a fully autonomous vehicle. They’re equally speedy to claim the car’s optional Intelligent Drive Package brings accident-free driving one step closer to reality.

This is video by Matt Bubbers from an event in March showing the 'driver assistance' in action:

The base version of this new luxury mid-size sedan comes armed to the teeth with advanced safety systems, including active braking, added side-impact protection and hearing-loss prevention in an accident. The optional package includes auto-park, lane-keeping and radar cruise control that is operational up to 210 kilometres and hour.

Add it all up and the new E300 must be, from a safety standpoint, one of the most carefully considered vehicles of all time.

The lane-keeping system no longer relies exclusively on lane markings – the tail lights of cars in front also play a role. As in the past, though, when left to its own devices, the Mercedes still veers outside its lane from time to time. On the other hand, the autonomous braking system performed as billed every time.

The E300 is a comfortable and capable cruiser. It’s not the choice for drivers who want to go full tilt, a role reserved for the forthcoming E43 AMG. But the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is surprisingly willing, the steering and handling are reassuring and everything feels bolted-down.

The interior, another key selling point for the car, is a revelation. Adopting the look and feel of far more expensive models from the S-Class range, the passenger cabin is technologically sophisticated without being technologically frustrating. To cap it off, the look and feel of the steering wheel, centre console and interior panels may be the most impressive aspect of this car, full stop.

You’ll like this car if ... You yearn for sophisticated design.

Mark Hacking

TECH SPECS

Base price: $61,200; as tested, $79,550

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder

Transmission/drive: Nine-speed automatic/all-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): TBD

Alternatives: Audi A6, BMW 535i xDrive, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS 350 AWD, Mercedes-Benz CLS 400 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz

RATINGS

Looks: The 10th-generation version is one of most handsome in the history of the E-Class. The designers have managed a “coupe-like” silhouette that doesn’t sacrifice back-seat headroom – the car’s height is lower than before, but interior space is identical. Over the past decade, exterior design at Mercedes has been a mixed bag – nowadays, it’s an absolute strength.

Performance: The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that powers the E300 is a willing accomplice. The response is quick and the nine-speed automatic transmission ensures forward momentum is never in doubt. The 4MATIC system, standard on all versions of the E300, is well sorted and gives the sedan a slight rear-wheel drive bias.

Interior: Another strong point. The double-wide instrument panel/centre console screen can be operated in a variety of ways and organized to provide as much or as little information as needed. The leather seats and wood on the interior panels give the car a rich feeling that would cost tens of thousands more in other cars.

Technology: As noted, this thing is loaded to the teeth with technology of all shapes, sizes and descriptions. Not mentioned earlier is the optional Burmeister sound system (included in the premium package) with 13 speakers carefully calibrated to blow the listener away. Amazing.

Cargo: The E300 isn’t an overly large sedan, but it’s smartly designed to feel bigger than it is. A longer wheelbase delivers more legroom for back-seat passengers. The trunk has 540 litres of cargo space. All things considered, five people should be possible, if they pack light.

Mark Hacking

THE VERDICT

8.5

Advanced technology, not terribly exciting to drive.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.