10/04/02 E FOR EMOTION
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sat, May 10, 2003
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
E FOR EMOTION
By JOHN GRAFMAN
What is automotive passion all about? Lust, power, a need to get behind the wheel even when you have no place to go in particular? Mercedes Benz would like to call it E-motion. To coincide with the introduction of the new E class 320 and 500, the good people at MBUSA decided to have a chance for the common man and woman to get a chance to really push the car around. You know, for the fun of it.
Strangely enough, the E-Motion event held at the old El Toro marine base had few enthusiasts and many looky Lous. Two courses were set up - one exclusively for the 320, and the other for the 500. Most everyone was bunched up in the 500 line like lambs headed for slaughter ("the five-liter or nothing at all"). My trusty photographer, Kurt, and me - both being part psychic - knew that would be the case so we took the needed precaution to insure we didn't get landlocked behind some god awful line. Our preplanning paid major league dividends.
I have to admit, Mercedes did a great job of limiting the total number of people in each group coming to the event. In addition, they had plenty of cars for all, so there was no really long wait for any cars.
Photos by Kurt Fuhrmann
Face-to-face with the all-new Benz, I was impressed and surprised that the massiveness of the S class wasn't evident. On the other hand, the family resemblance was most certainly there. Good looks are not the only shared quality. The interior is first class as one would hope. Mind you, we only have a few moments to familiarize ourselves with the important issues before launching down the course. Steering wheel, check. Gas and brake pedals, check. Seat and shifter, check, check. Okay Houston, we look good for take off.
Foot to the floor, whaaaaaaa. Like a bat out of hell, flying full bore as if Ozzy was just steps behind, the E 500 simply rips down the coned course leaving no doubt in anyone's mind that this baby can do the job and then some. I know we topped seventy on the first stretch. The active pneumatic suspension on the E 500, which is optional on the 320, is really a marvel. You can do no wrong with this system, which helped out on occasion as I came into a corner too fast. Without it, I know I would have eaten a few cones and then unceremoniously I would have been asked to hand in my hall pass and told never to darken there doorway again. Thank the engineers that kept me in good standing with the track gods.
As one would imagine, the braking system was able to handle any rapid deceleration with aplomb. I am not crazy about the ESP (electronic stability program) system on the C Class Sport Coupe, but that in conjunction with the various other systems on the E kept everyone between the cones.
Okay, not everyone. As amazing as the car is, one unfortunate woman plowed over numerous cones and then cut across the course back to the start. In doing so, it looked like she was suffering from some latent road rage. Worst of all, she was headed straight for us! Obviously we lived to tell the tale, but there were a few harrowing moments. Roughly forty thousand of us die due to car accidents each year in the U.S., but how many of them are at these sort of promotional events? Hmmm. As we were told in our short dissertation prior to being let loose in the cars, Mercedes has everything under the sun in the way of safety short of a bomb shelter or something to that effect. Myself, I prefer avoiding the accident rather than testing out the crash worthiness of the car in order to vindicate their engineering decisions.
After being exhilarated with the first lap, it was on to the 320. (They only let you go one lap at a time anyhow so it seemed to be a good time while the masses were still waiting on the 500s.) Lines for the 320 were non-existent, strange, very strange. Their loss is our gain. The course was less challenging and the base suspension isn't the same caliber as what we just stepped out of, but the base price is roughly ten thousand less. The 320 engine is such an all-around good engine that it is no wonder they use it in so many products. After a lap on this course, we re-entered the tented area for a quick nibble on the hors d'oeuvres they had crafted for us. Beyond the food and drinks, MBUSA had set up an environment with everything that we could want - from a big screen television and couches, to masseuses. The requisite auto displays along with cut-aways exposing the safety features was added food for thought. The orientations and presentation all gave added clout to Mercedes Benz being in the upper strata of premium brands
By the time we went back out, the line to the big E 500 had all but dried up. We could not believe our eyes. Evidently, the other attendees had little interest in repeating the course. We were stunned and overwhelmed. We went hog wild. Like kids in an amusement park with no lines on our favorite roller coaster. As soon as we got off, bam, back in line. The only rule we had to obey was don't knock over any cones. Fair enough. With each lap, we grew more accustomed to the cars and the track. By the end of the third lap, we knew the course well enough to start pushing the limits on the car. After lap five, we were pushing the envelope on tire adhesion and our luck in being cone free. Better to leave on a good note, so we went over and grabbed a few more in the 320.
Were we motivated at the end of the day? You bet your ass! Flying around a course may not be everyone's idea of fun, as we saw that day, however it is mine!
Please go to www.mercedes-benz.com for more information
* Base Number of Cylinders: 6 * Base Engine Size: 3.2 liters * Base Engine Type: V6 * Horsepower: 221 hp
* Max Horsepower: 5600 rpm * Torque: 232 ft-lbs. * Max Torque: 3000 rpm * Drive Type:RWD
* Turning Circle: 37.4 ft.
Fuel DataFuel Tank Capacity: 20.6 gal
.EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)Automatic: 20 mpg / 28 mpg
Range in Miles: (City/Highway )Automatic: 412 mi. / 576.8 mi.
* Base Number of Cylinders: 8 * Base Engine Size: 4.3 liters * Base Engine Type: V8 * Horsepower: 302 hp
* Max Horsepower: 5600 rpm * Torque: 339 ft-lbs. * Max Torque: 2700 rpm * Drive Type: RWD
* Turning Circle: 37.4 ft.
Fuel Data Fuel Tank Capacity: 20.6 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
Automatic: 17 mpg / 24 mpg
Range in Miles: (City/Highway) Automatic: 350.2 mi. / 494.4 mi.