The term “station wagon” is not favored by premium automotive brands, as it originated in reference to the distinctly proletarian vehicles with enlarged luggage space which loitered at railway stations to carry travelers the final miles to their destination. The term “Estate car” derived from the bodyworks modified upmarket vehicles used on the estates of European gentlemen to move people and gear. Estate cars have come a long way in 100 years, as witnessed by the fifth generation of the Mercedes Benz E-Class Estate with its nine airbags, adaptive damping, self-leveling rear suspension, adaptive highbeam, drowsiness detection and powered tailgate.
Mercedes-Benz is launching the E-Class Estate version in early 2010. Like the Saloon and Coupé, the Estate combines its own, elegant design with leadership in safety, comfort, quality and practicality. A number of technical innovations have entered series production in the E-Class which will feature on the Estate - from drowsiness detection to automatic emergency braking when an accident is recognized as imminent, and from Adaptive Highbeam Assist to the active bonnet. Air suspension with self-leveling at the rear will be standard as will unique new load compartment management features, including an EASY-PACK automatic powered tailgate and EASY-PACK Quick Fold rear seats.
The E-Class Estate was one of the first in the premium lifestyle estate segment selling more than a million vehicles since its launch in 1977. The innovative "quickfold" system enables the rear seat backrests to be folded down from the load compartment, using two operating handles, one on the left and one on the right. The two backrest sections are unlocked and folded down by a bowden cable, creating a level loading surface. As another useful feature, either the left or right backrest sections, or both together, can be folded down. This enables the rear seat unit to be used by passengers even when long and bulky items are being carried. An unusual aspect of this system is that unlocking and folding down is also possible from the side.
With a load capacity of up to 1950 litres, the new E-Class Estate (length/width/ height: 4895/1854/1471 millimeters) sets the standard in its class. Apart from the load compartment capacity itself, other dimensions of great practical importance, such as the rear aperture, rear sill height or maximum load length, demonstrate the expertise of Mercedes-Benz in estate car engineering.
It is not only in the load compartment that has seen an improvement in the already generous dimensions of the preceding model, there are also improvements in other respects as well. Two examples in the interior illustrate this: the elbow width in the rear has been increased by 50 millimeters to 1505 millimeters. Rear headroom with the large tilting/sliding sunroof installed has also improved by 50 millimeters to 1010 millimeters, and is almost as generous as in versions with no sunroof (1012 mm).
An exemplary load management system is on board as standard. Features include the automatically opening and closing EASY-PACK tailgate with automatic raising of the load compartment cover and the EASY-PACK folding load compartment floor. The latter considerably increases the usable height of the load compartment. It can be folded up and secured in various positions. Standard equipment also includes the EASY-PACK load compartment cover with a load securing net. When extended, the load compartment cover can be hooked into electrically powered carriers on the D-pillars. When the tailgate is opened, the load compartment cover is automatically raised to allow unobstructed loading and unloading. The optional folding bench seat for the load compartment is also a unique feature in this vehicle segment.
Around one dozen new or improved driver assistance systems help to prevent accidents or at least reduce the severity of the impact. These include the standard ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system, the optional DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control and the PRE-SAFE Brake, which is able to initiate partial and full emergency braking autonomously. For the first time, PRE-SAFE is also able to use only the information received from the short-range sensors in the front bumper to tension the front seat belts at the last moment before an accident recognised as unavoidable, thereby reducing the loads on the driver and front passenger during the crash.
With nine airbags fitted as standard, four seat-belt tensioners and belt-force limiters plus NECK-PRO crash-responsive head restraints, the new E-Class offers an even more extensive package of safety equipment than its predecessor. The airbags, which can deploy in a matter of milliseconds in the event of an accident, include two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, a knee airbag for the driver, two side airbags in the front-seat backrests and two large window airbags which extend from the A-pillar to the C-pillar during a side impact. Pelvisbags for the front occupants are also included for the first time. These reduce the loads acting on the torso and pelvic area during a lateral collision.
Sidebags for the rear seat passengers can also be installed on request. Mercedes-Benz also offers optional, self-adaptive belt force limiters for the rear. These adjust to the size and weight of the passengers, and also become available for the Saloon with the introduction of the Estate.
Outstanding comfort on long journeys in the Estate is ensured by the newly developed DIRECT CONTROL suspension, which features the adaptive damping system as standard. The standard self-leveling rear suspension ensures that the Estate always remains at the same level, even when fully loaded. The suspension setup of the Estate has also been adapted to suit the modified body geometry, with slightly stiffer shock absorber settings and torsion bar stabilizers. Without any penalty in road roar and tire vibration characteristics, making the Estate just as agile as the Saloon.
In the interests of favorable axle kinematics, superior vibrational comfort and improved safety, the lower link of the three-link front suspension with MacPherson struts consists of two separate elements which act as torque and cross struts. In addition to precise wheel location, this design has the particular advantage of compensating vibrations caused by tyre imbalances or fluctuating brake forces better than rigid wishbones.
In the interests of greater comfort and agility, the multi-link independent suspension successful for more than 25 years was re-engineered for use in the new E-Class. Modifications included the front cross-bar of the axle housing, which is now supported by the vehicle body over a wider area. This reduces the forces transmitted into the passenger compartment, a comfort feature that is particularly noticeable when crossing transverse joints in the road surface.
The fuel consumption and emissions of the new Estate have been considerably improved by new engines and numerous detailed improvements (aerodynamics, weight, energy management, reduced resistances). One example is the E 250 CDI with an output of 204 hp and 500 Nm of torque, with an impressive combined fuel consumption of 48.7 mpg whilst emitting just 150 g of CO2 per km.
The range of engines available on the launch of the new Estate comprises six units developing from 170 hp to 387 hp. Though lower displacement, the new and improved engines generate more output than their predecessors while impressing with fuel consumption figures that were previously only found in the compact class. This was made possible by numerous innovations, for example the petrol model E 350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY with spray-guided direct injection. The four-cylinder CDI engines partly owe their exceptional status to newly developed piezo-electric injectors and two-stage turbocharging. All the engines meet the EU5 emission standards.
The number of Estate engine variants will increase to eight soon after the launch with the introduction of the E 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY and E 63 AMG Estate. Pricing and specifications are still to be confirmed.
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