Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MERCEDES THINKS IN ADVANCE; When David Williams Decided He and the Family Ought to Travel to Europe in Practical Style, One Vehicle Was the Automatic Choice ROAD TEST

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MERCEDES THINKS IN ADVANCE; When David Williams Decided He and the Family Ought to Travel to Europe in Practical Style, One Vehicle Was the Automatic Choice ROAD TEST

Article excerpt

Byline: David Williams

MERCEDES E250 CDI BlueEfficiency Avantgarde Estate auto Top speed: 143 mph; 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds; Emissions: 163g/km; Price: [pounds sterling]34,755; Fuel consumption on test: 41.2mpg (autoroutes and London, fully laden) LIKE many motorists at this time of year, I've just returned from a grand holiday tour at the wheel of the family car. Actually, my vehicle was on loan; we did 2,200 miles in Mercedes' new uber family wagon -- the E-Class 250 Avantgarde estate -- as I put it through its paces to the Pyrenees.

It was the low emission BlueMotion, automatic version. And I do mean automatic; there were times when I wondered who was driving who.

Anyone familiar with Mercedes Benz knows it takes technology seriously, especially with its cutting-edge safety systems. It came as a bit of a surprise to find how truly useful they are.

First to kick in as we headed down the A3 to Brittany Ferries at Portsmouth was Lane Keeping Assist. It alerts you if you wander towards a white line -- without indicating -- with a series of vibrations through the steering wheel. The effect is much like running over corrugated markings at the side of a motorway. Simple, but clever, especially if you have miles of sleep-inducing autoroute to tackle.

Next up was the Speed Limiter, easily set on the cruise control stalk. You establish the speed you want (we were late for the ferry, but didn't want to trip a speed camera) and it prevents you from exceeding it, no matter how hard you prod the accelerator.

Once the 5.8in sat-nav had "talked"us to the port it was plain sailing; we sat back and let the ferry take the strain on a six-and-a-half-hour crossing; so much more relaxing than if we'd had to queue at the airport or sit in the gloom of a subterranean train.

Then came the really clever part as we drove down the ramp of the good ship Mont St Michel at Caen.

Within minutes of hitting the N158, a confused Brit swerved into our lane without looking. Blind Spot Assist detected him first and -- with a flash of orange in the door mirrors, backed up by a "bong" and warning light on the dash -- gave me vital extra moments to react, allowing me to hit the brakes.

As the miles wore on, I switched the speed limiter to Distronic. This -- combined with cruise control -- keeps you a safe distance from the car in front and on long journeys is a boon. You can set it to a limit -- say 130kph -- and let the car do the braking and acceleration for you, for as long as you like.

There was further back-up in the form of Attention Assist, which monitors steering and indicator input and alerts potentially dozing drivers with flashes ... and more electronic chimes.

My favourite device came into play at night, when Adaptive High Beam Assist did all the work, switching from high to low beam -- and back -- without me having to do a thing. …

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