The hi-tech sedan activates “white noise” inside the cabin moments before a crash, to prevent damage to eardrums when airbags deploy.
It can avoid crashing into the car in front — from 100km/h — if the driver is not paying attention, by slamming on the brakes at the last moment.
If the car senses it is about to be hit from behind, it will flash the brake lights in the hope it may alert the driver of the incoming car.
Eighty-four tiny LEDs in each headlight mean the high beams can be engaged without dazzling oncoming traffic — because they blank out the specific area around other cars as they approach.
If the car gets caught in a crosswind, it will automatically dab the brakes — individually, and on either side of the car — to keep it in the lane.
In a side impact, the front seats pivot slightly inboard to move the occupants away from the door.
Mercedes are not calling this model an autonomous car. Instead, the new E Class is “another major step towards autonomous driving” and describes its technology as “assistance systems”. “It’s there when you need it, the technology should not replace driver attention” says the head of Mercedes autonomous car technology, Jochen Haab.
The person in charge of testing future technology for Mercedes said Australia’s strict speed enforcement made the country “ideal” for autonomous vehicle systems because, unlike Europe, there is not a great differentiation in traffic speeds.