Last year, Mercedes-Benz updated its E-Class midsize sedan, adding two new optional engines, styling changes, a Pre-Safe system and an AMG performance variant. Changes for 2008 are minimal, with an AMG appearance package now available on E350 and E550 models.
The V-6-powered E350 continues, and a 5.5-liter V-8 powers the E550. The diesel E320 features Mercedes' Bluetec emission-control technology. The E-Class AMG model is the E63 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz's AMG high-performance models are often clad with sleek styling and aggressive wheels. For those who want AMG styling without the performance — and added cost — an AMG Sport package is available on E350 and E550 sedans. It includes AMG front and rear aprons, 18-inch five-spoke wheels and dual chrome exhaust tips.
Standard options include a moonroof, a six-CD changer, a Harman Kardon premium stereo and, in the wagon body style, a power liftgate. Cars equipped with the AMG Sport package also get an AMG steering wheel with paddle shifters.
Under the Hood
The E350's 3.5-liter V-6 funnels 268 horsepower through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The E550's V-8 makes 382 hp. The E65 AMG replaces the earlier version's 469-hp, supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 with a 507-hp, normally aspirated (not supercharged) 6.3-liter V-8. The diesel E320 Bluetec is clean enough to be the first diesel car of modern times that can be sold in California and other states with stringent pollution restrictions. It achieves this by decreasing diesel's two worst pollutants: particulates (soot) and oxides of nitrogen. A special catalytic converter, a particulate trap and another device in the exhaust stream filter or convert the bad stuff into benign gases like nitrogen.
The Pre-Safe collision mitigation system is part of a generous list of standard safety features. There are dual-stage airbags in the front, side-impact bags in the front and rear doors and side curtain airbags that cover the side windows. Antilock brakes, brake assist, an electronic stability system and radar-based adaptive cruise control all play a part in the integrated safety system.
If the radar sensor predicts an impending collision, Pre-Safe cinches the front seat belt pretensioners and can even change the position of the front passenger seat for optimal protection by the restraints. In a serious skid, the system closes the moonroof and any open windows, a step to prevent occupant ejection, which can occur in a collision or, especially, a rollover.
The 2008 E-Class includes an adaptive brake light that flashes when the car is under rapid or panic braking. A flashing light is found to attract a following driver's attention faster — enough to shave a car's length of stopping distance by a car following at 50 mph.
If all else fails and the E-Class does crash, the standard Tele-Aid — which is similar to GM's OnStar — will contact authorities and send them to your location.
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