Mercedes-Benz is on a spree to enhance its brand presence in India. In association with Mobil 1, Mercedes India had arranged the StarDrive Experience 2013 in Gurgaon, where we got to experience different dynamics of vehicles from the German automaker’s stable, in both off-road and on-road conditions. The StarDrive Experience was conducted by a team of professional driving experts trained by Mercedes-Benz driving team. The ML-Class, GL-Class, E-Class and C-Class were the four weapons lined up at the StarDrive event to test the advanced technology on offer with each Mercedes-Benz vehicle.
First up was the demonstration of the Mercedes Pre-Safe system, which is a unique safety feature that helps to prevent accidents to a great extent, minimize damages and protects the occupants. This was demonstrated to us on the E-Class sedan. The Pre-Safe system comprises of several reflexive sensors mounted all-round the car that are capable to react, depending on the driving situation. For instance, if the driver loses control of the car at high speed, the advanced system detects the possibility of an accident and keeps the vehicle in control.
The Pre-Safe kicks in with the help of the sensors aboard that activate ESP, ABS and EBD at the same time when required. The sensors calculate oversteer and understeer and provide counter acceleration with steering inputs automatically for further stability and traction. The Pre-Safe system also closes the sunroof, windows, tightens the seatbelt and re-positions the seats if reclined when it detects instability.
Next in schedule was the Mercedes SUV demonstration, in which we stepped into the ML-Class to experience some serious off-road abilities of the vehicle and behind the wheel was Mr. Hari Singh (National Rally Champion). First we went through the obstacles to test the Mercedes 4ETS technology. The ML-Class wandered through the obstacles with ease, where two wheels were suspended in the air at a point of time when the 4ETS got activated. The 4ETS system actually detects and disconnects the power to the wheels suspended in the air with no traction and concentrates the maximum power available to the wheels with grip, which keeps the vehicle moving.
The ML-Class then headed towards the lateral 30 degree incline ramp, crawling seamlessly without losing any traction, thanks to the brawny 265/45 20-inch tyres working well with the advanced technology on board. The most exhilarating experience of the off-road demonstration was the straight 40 degree incline and descent. The 40 degree ramp looks like a cake-walk when viewed in photos, but is actually very scary when you approach the incline. The Hill Hold Assist was engaged and we headed to the peak of the incline.
Mr. Hari Singh stopped the SUV to a standstill at the peak of the ramp to demonstrate the Hill Hold Assist, which holds the SUV at a steep climb when you lift the foot off the brake pedal and doesn’t roll back until three seconds, so that the driver can provide the throttle input within enough time. Now the ML heads for a steep decline with the DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) activated that tightens up the seatbelts and descends the vehicle automatically without any input provided by the driver.
Thankfully, the last round was not a demonstration and instead a contest for us to complete the fastest lap on a brief track arranged with cones. The compact and agile Mercedes C-Class was lined up to do the needful. Hitting a cone will add two seconds to the lap timing, which meant that I had to be precise with the handling. The C-Class got a green signal and I floored it, with the ESP taking care of the stability and the sharp handling ability of the car making it easy for me to avoid hitting the cones. We managed to touch the finish line in 17 seconds, which was the third best timing until then.
The StarDrive Experience is in its fourth year and will be organized in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Calicut, Pune, Mumbai and some more cities. ExxonMobil is the sponsor partner for this event and has been associated with Mercedes-Benz for a long time. ExxonMobil provides the German automaker with Mobil 1 lubricant technology, expertise and support to develop lubricants for its engines and gearboxes. The synthetic motor oil brand provides anti-wear technology with protection against engine wear thereby maximising engine performance even in extreme temperatures.