DIRECT CONTROL: Synergy of comfort and dynamism

Apr 12, 2006
  • Steering: more direct ratio for greater responsiveness
  • Suspension: greater transverse agility by virtue of a newly developed front axle bearing
  • Manual transmission: more precise and comfortable control
The new-generation E-Class not only looks more dynamic, but performs accordingly. An intelligently conceived package of measures has enabled Mercedes engineers to achieve further significant progress where agility and handling are concerned – and without compromising the unique synergy of safety and long-distance comfort for which the E-Class Saloon and Estate models have always been known.
This package is called DIRECT CONTROL. The name can be taken quite literally, for now the steering, suspension and manual transmission of the E-Class operate even more directly, i.e. with more responsiveness and agility than before.
The driver already feels these new characteristics during the first few miles, as the specialists in Sindelfingen have reconfigured the most important interface between man and machine, namely the steering. A ten percent more direct steering ratio (14.7 instead of the previous 16.3) means that the E-Class responds more readily, while retaining the reassuring handling safety and ride stability that contributes so much to relaxed travel over long distances. The characteristic mapping of the steering has also been modified, with the aim of achieving even more direct responsiveness. This is particularly felt when the steering is centred.
At the four-link front suspension of the E-Class, Mercedes engineers have re-developed and reconfigured the spring link bearing. This means that the bearing, which can move in three directions – forwards, backwards and to the side – now has a considerably higher transverse rigidity of 9000 newtons per millimetre – twice as much as before. This enables the bearing to withstand the lateral forces acting on the front axle when entering a bend even more effectively, reducing the understeer of both the Saloon and Estate. This has no effect whatsoever on the high level of ride comfort, as the longitudinal characteristics of the spring link bearing remain the same.
In addition Mercedes-Benz is equipping the front and rear axles of the ELEGANCE line with a feature which was previously only available for the AVANTGARDE line and models with the sports package, namely rebound buffer springs in the damper struts. These limit the movement of the shock absorbers when negotiating bends, thereby reducing body roll.
Suspension variants: from sporty to comfortable
As before, Mercedes E-Class customers are also able to cater for their personal preferences where the configuration of the suspension system is concerned. The following choices are available:
  • the specially configured AVANTGARDE suspension with a lowered body, 15 percent stiffer spring settings and 17-inch wheels (16-inch in the E 200 CDI and E 220 CDI);
  • the further improved sports suspension with a stiffer spring, shock absorber and stabiliser configuration, as well as rebound buffer springs at the front and rear axles. The body is lowered by 15 millimetres with this suspension variants;
  • the sports package/AMG sports package with mixed 18-inch tyres: 245/40 R 18 at the front and 265/35 R 18 at the rear;
  • AIRMATIC DC air suspension, which works in tandem with the Adaptive Damping System (standard in the E 420 CDI and E 500).
Manual transmission: faster, more comfortable gear changes
The DIRECT CONTROL package also includes a new gearshift linkage system for the six-speed manual transmission, leading to far better gearshifting comfort and precision. In contrast to the previous linkage, which transferred linear and lateral movements of the shift lever separately to the transmission, a single shift rod now transfers both movements simultaneously. This enables the previous guide linkages to be dispensed with. The practical result is faster and more positive gearshifting.
The six-cylinder models E 320 CDI and E 350, as well as the eight-cylinder E 420 CDI and E 500, are equipped with the unique seven-speed automatic transmission as standard. In conjunction with the sports package, the 7G-TRONIC transmission of the E 350 and E 500 offers a manual shift mode (M) in which the driver is able to change the gears by nudging newly developed, ergonomically shaped gearshift paddles on the steering wheel. This shortens the acceleration time by up to 0.2 seconds – in the E 280 with 7G-TRONIC from 7.3 to 7.1 seconds, in the E 350 from 6.9 to 6.7 seconds and in the E 500 from 5.1 to 4.9 seconds.