E250 – what does this button do?

So far in our car testing history, the highest level of technology we’ve experienced has been that lovely engine start button that really adds to the driving experience of a Toyota 86.

So when a Mercedes-Benz E250 rolled into the work car park a few weeks back chock full of the latest German engineering, we couldn’t resist the temptation to borrow the keys…and then spend the rest of the afternoon trying to work out (unsuccessfully) what every button in it did..

Yes an absolutely gorgeous Merc E250 spent some time in the work car pool and aside from pointing out how above everything else it looked all new and sparkly (compared to a certain 1991 Toyota Soarer as a prime example), very few people realized it was a diesel until they drove it and wound down the window to grin broadly at the passing peasants. And as diesels go, it was the smoothest diesel we’ve ever had the pleasure of rolling around in.

It’s just the technology you need to master to really get the most of this $125,000 marvel of luxury.


To start it up you wave your hands and mutter in German..

The black leather seats courtesy of the finest cow are very comfortable and have about 32 buttons each that will massage your lumbar, brace your neck, warm your kidneys and undoubtedly correct your spinal alignment every time you venture out for some caviar. There was also a button on the center console that did something to the headrests in the back (they made a noise) but we couldn’t see exactly what from the drivers seat.

The headlights take a while to get used to as they will dance around like a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance depending on what’s happening in front of you. It senses other cars, other lights, passing goats and ufos and changes itself accordingly from a full beam blast of holy white when you’re on a long dark freeway to a self dipped level below other drivers eye level when it needs to. (This is a far stretch from my Mazda which would change levels depending on potholes and if I had a screwdriver handy).

Go faster than you should in the E250 (according to the on-board GPS and the limit of the street you’re in) and the steering will vibrate as a gentle nudge to keep an eye out for possible flashing lights. It took us a couple of blocks to work out what it was trying to explain to us until we looked at the speedo.

Eco mode is more than just taking sips of the diesel, it completely shuts the engine off at a stop with a gentle nudge of the pedal firing it right back to where it should be. Of course given how quiet this thing is with the windows up, you barely notice anything. As someone who usually stops engines from a lack of petrol, this was one of the first things I turned off before I panicked needlessly.

And then there’s that extra stalk behind the steering wheel that we’re still not sure what it does – the one you keep hitting by accident when trying to operate the wipers. According the screen in the dash it changes the distance of…er…something but we didn’t stop to find out exactly what.



The GPS in the E250 is operated by dial as is everything is but since we would eventually hand it back, we didn’t fully test every option. Maybe if we read through the instruction manual (given the options we’re guessing it’s roughly 8000 pages long) and took three weeks off to press every button, we might finally earn the PHD needed to become one with this Mercedes.

Still, our caveman level knowledge of current car technology aside, the Mercedes E250 is a truly beautiful and well engineered piece of German luxury that is very smooth and comfortable head turning ride.

Now where exactly did we leave our lottery ticket again?..

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