Mercedes decided to retest a modified car after the left front wheel was forced back in an initial test, rupturing the driver's footwell. The modified car was awarded three stars but, with just a little improvement, it would have earned a fourth. Mercedes tell us that cars ordered now will be modified. Despite there being no hard impact areas for the knees, the risk to the driver's legs and feet is still high because of the extent of brake pedal movement. Finally, the car meets side-impact legislation taking effect from October.
The Mercedes E-class just missed gaining a four-star Euro NCAP rating when the car was first tested in 1998. With the inclusion of the pole test into the Euro NCAP protocols, Mercedes commissioned a pole test to prove that the head-protecting airbag that is fitted as standard to the car from the 1999 model year has improved the protection offered. The requirements of the pole test, though demanding, were met without difficulty. The improvement in protection now earns the E-class a four-star Euro NCAP rating. The head-protecting device is a drop-down airbag curtain and was introduced across the range from VIN 210065 WDB JF65G9Y A 962233.
After the impact, the door aperture was little deformed and the body structure was stable. The left front wheel crushed the driver's footwell, causing a body seam to burst and expose the wheel arch liner. The driver and passenger airbags worked well and the load limiting belts reduced chest injury risks from those seen in the first test. The knee impact areas included hard contact points which could injure the driver's knees, upper legs and pelvis.
The E-class has door-mounted side-impact chest airbags fitted as standard. The driver's airbag cushioned his arm, chest, and abdomen, but did not improve protection as much as those in some other cars in this group.
An European manufacturer's association (ACEA) pictogram was fixed to the passenger's end of the facia and was a single-language text label on the windscreen which could be peeled off or lost if the screen had to be replaced. The text did not explain the risk of serious injury or death if a child seat was fitted in the front passenger seat. Both dummies were in Mercedes forward-facing child seats. Belt guides on the seats were colour coded in accordance with regulation R44.03, but the stick-on dots used to indicate the route could be removed too easily.
The bonnet top gave reasonable protection for pedestrian head impacts. The child protection zone had half the test points meeting proposed legislation and three other sites were not far away from passing. Tests for adult head contact revealed two bad points although the rest came close to compliance. However, the front end of the car was found to be aggressive and each test point rated as 'poor'.