[10] Bmw Sheridan In Annually Gossip

In the race to form a government, there may be a few TDs daydreaming about the chance to secure a seat in the ministerial Merc. It has become a cliche of political reward, even though many of our formidable leaders opt for different brands. The link between a cabinet posting and a black Mercedes E-Class is cemented in the Irish psyche. Well, the good news is, if the big parties want a carrot to keep a TD in check, then the latest E-Class should do the trick. Think of it as the motoring chief whip.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class is now in its 10th generation. Last century’s undisputed king of the executive car park has fallen behind its main premium rivals BMW and Audi in the sales charts. The new E-Class simply has to be a quantum leap forward to regain market share. We put the car through its paces in Lisbon and found out quickly that Mercedes-Benz is serious about regaining its crown.

The headlines are impressive: the car is lighter and has an ultra-aerodynamic body with the lowest drag in its class. The E-Class features class firsts such as the availability of air suspension, a highly innovative and efficient next-generation 2-litre diesel engine that replaces the 2.2-litre, fantastic LED headlights that can shape their main beam around not one but four oncoming cars. The E Class can even help reduce damage to occupants’ hearing in a crash by triggering the stapedius reflex in people’s ears via the sound system. (The stapedius is a tiny muscle in the ear that contracts involuntary in response to loud noises to change the connection from the eardrum to the inner ear. You see how educational the motoring pages are these days?)

As for driving aids, the car has the usual ones as standard, with the optional Drive Pilot and other “packs” delivering a level of automation that can only be described as witchcraft. At one stage, on the motorway with my hands off the wheel, I turned on the indicator; the car checked for the absence of surrounding traffic and then steered into the selected lane with no input from me.

Personalisation

The E-Class has grown by 43mm in length, yet in the flesh it looks more compact. Significantly, the wheelbase has been stretched by a further 65mm and the overhangs are shorter too. Surprisingly, the stretch hasn’t really led to vastly more rear-passenger room.

Inside the E-Class is a beautiful new dash that combines hi-tech with tactile materials to a class-leading level. Standard dash specification features two analog speedo dials with a quad-core 12.3-inch HD display just off centre, favouring the driver. For a few euro more you can get a state-of-the-art widescreen dash that features not one but two high-resolution screens set side by side.

This car has another first with its touchpad steering wheel. Each thumb has a small touchpad that allow the driver to scroll through menus and operate secondary controls such as navigation, sound system, trip computer etc in a very intuitive way. The centre console touchpad remains, but we hardly touched it.

Depending again on how deep your pockets are you can have sumptuous massaging seats with active bolster support. Leather is standard and wood and high-tech inlay options steal a march on Audi and BMW and put the E-Class to the head of the class.

Mercedes has simplified its manufacturing process by offering just three style and equipment lines: Avantgarde (entry point in Ireland), Exclusive and AMG. The asking price has been revised and now Irish customers will get €7,000 worth of kit thrown in for free in the Avantgarde compared to the outgoing car. The entry point to E-Class motoring starts at €52,850 (ex works).

Price decrease

Diesel, petrol and a new plug-in hybrid are the engine options. The most important unit is the brand new 2-litre (1950cc) diesel engine that Mercedes-Benz has invested a whopping €2.6 billion in development and line production.

It can shame most superminis for miserly fuel consumption, with official figures claiming 3.9l/100km (72.4 mpg). The engine is powerful too, with 194hp and 400Nm of torque. The new four-cylinder unit replaces the 2.2-litre and will eventually be used in other models.

The reason it can’t just be swapped in to other models now is that the unit features different and very clever packaging. All the exhaust treatment bits and pieces that you’d conventionally find at intervals along the exhaust system, such as the particulate filter, AdBlue and catalytic converter, are housed tightly right next to the engine, leaving just a pipe going to the rear carrying the exhaust emissions.

The heat from the engine helps the whole emissions-reducing process happen more efficiently, so there is less need for a long run to get up to temperature to deal with nasty emissions.

All our test cars were on the top end air suspension and the ride quality was first class.

The E-Class is being built with three suspension types. Conventional steel springs and dampers (shock absorbers) is the standard setup. Next up is steel springs and active dampers, and top of the range is suspension with steel springs and multi air-chamber dampers.

On the road the power delivery is very smooth thanks to the 9G-Tronic (nine-speed) automatic that is standard across the range. The new E-Class 350e plug-in hybrid features this gearbox too. The new car features a modest but effective 30km of electric-only driving range.

Recuperates

Mercedes’s all-wheel drive system, 4Matic, features in the next range and will be available from September. We took an E-400 4Matic for a few fast laps of the Estoril Grand Prix circuit in Portugal and were impressed by the powerful V6. It takes 5.3 seconds to get from 0-100km/h thanks to 333bhp and 480Nm of torque.

With the car’s drive mode set to Sport+ we were able to point, slide and squirt the car where we wanted it to go without any surprises. The car was riding on air suspension and while it was in its stiffest mode, it fell far short of the stiffness a skilled driver would expect of a track car, but for us mere mortals it let us know what was going on at all times.

The E-Class launches in Ireland on April 11th, just in time for the formation of the next government.

September will see another group of models including the entry-level 200d and the estate version. November will see the Coupe and there will be a manual available at the end of the year, but in truth nobody will want it.

MDL currently sells about 700 E-Class cars annually but is targeting the 5 Series and A6, so needs to sell closer to 1,500 units annually. The car dealer says it will achieve this within three years of launch.

Route one: The road back to the top for Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz has set its network an ambitious target of being number one in its sector in Europe by 2020, and it is something that could happen as early as the end of 2016.

The target will be met in a sustainable way, says Ciaran Allen of MDL, without bulk pre-registrations (cars registered by the dealer or distributor and then sold as ex-demo models or as low-mileage used in order to justify a price reduction that attracts a bigger audience). At the moment demand for some models is so high they cannot meet it, for example the GLC.

“We all have the ambition to be number one, nobody likes hanging around in third place [after Audi and BMW] particularly when brand Mercedes-Benz was number one. We’ve fallen behind the eight-ball over the last few years in terms of product and product development , so now we can see a full circle turn on that.”

Allen credits MB’s premium rivals for having smaller product on sale sooner, and financial packages via their own banks – VW Bank in Audi’s case and BMW’s financial services arm. He says Daimler Bank looked at Ireland and decided it wasn’t a big enough market to merit setting up a 30 or 40-strong office here and that’s when MDL partnered up with Bank of Ireland to tailor packages for buyers in Ireland.

Traditionally E-Class buyers have fallen into the 50-plus age group, but Allen is confident that with the new product it can now target younger buyers. MDL has recently employed a new training manager to head up a trading academy to help bring dealerships and sales executives up to speed on the latest technologies available in its next-generation machines. Sales execs will even get technology passports in terms of e-learning and so on. Allen says younger audiences will be more comfortable with new technology.

Irish sales of E-Class account for roughly 700 units and Allen says they need to double that in the next two to three years to get to competitor levels of 1,200-1,500 model sales per year.

Mercedes-Benz restructured its Irish network about two and a half years ago in preparation for the product offensive, and Allen says at the time the firm coined the phrase “less dealers selling more cars” as “we had too many dealers fishing in a small pond”. He says there are a couple of open areas under negotiation.

There are currently three countries in the Mercedes- Benz European network that have privately owned distributors: Norway, Finland and Ireland. All other countries are operated by Mercedes- Benz-owned subsidiaries.

Mercedes-Benz has set its network an ambitious target of being number one in its sector in Europe by 2020, and it is something that could happen as early as the end of 2016.

The target will be met in a sustainable way, says Ciaran Allen of MDL, without bulk pre-registrations (cars registered by the dealer or distributor and then sold as ex-demo models or as low-mileage used in order to justify a price reduction that attracts a bigger audience). At the moment demand for some models is so high they cannot meet it, for example the GLC.

“We all have the ambition to be number one, nobody likes hanging around in third place (after Audi and BMW) particularly when brand Mercedes-Benz was number one. We’ve fallen behind the eight- ball over the last few years in terms of product and product development , so now we can see a full circle turn on that.”

Allen credits MB’s premium rivals for having smaller product on sale sooner, and financial packages via their own banks – VW Bank in Audi’s case and BMW’s financial services arm. He says Daimler Bank looked at Ireland and decided it wasn’t a big enough market to merit setting up a 30 or 40-strong office here and that’s when MDL partnered up with Bank of Ireland to tailor packages for buyers in Ireland.

Traditionally E-Class buyers have fallen into the 50-plus age group, but Allen is confident that with the new product it can now target younger buyers. MDL has recently employed a new training manager to head up a trading academy to help bring dealerships and sales executives up to speed on the latest technologies available in its next-generation machines. Sales execs will even get technology passports in terms of e-learning and so on. Allen says younger audiences will be more comfortable with new technology.

Irish sales of E-Class account for roughly 700 units and Allen says they need to double that in the next two to three years to get to competitor levels of 1,200-1,500 model sales per year.

Mercedes-Benz restructured its Irish network about two and a half years ago in preparation for the product offensive, and Allen says at the time the firm coined the phrase “less dealers selling more cars” as “we had too many dealers fishing in a small pond”. He says there are a couple of open areas under negotiation.

There are currently three countries in the Mercedes- Benz European network that have privately owned distributors: Norway, Finland and Ireland. All other countries are operated by Mercedes- Benz- owned subsidiaries.


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