New Mercedes-Benz E-Class models are vitally important to the German giant car maker. As it moves down to lower-priced models, relatively speaking, it’s vital that the midrange E-Class Mercs retain the prestigious reputation it has enjoyed for many decades.
New E-Class is longer than the superseded one, with increased wheelbase and wheel track. It’s also marginally lower and narrower. Weight has been reduced by about 75 kg, depending on the model. This has been achieved by the use of more high strength steel, making the body stronger.
We attended the media launch of the E-Class in Melbourne in July and are now spending a week in our home area of south-east Queensland. The initial review vehicle is the model that most impressed us at the launch, the E 220d with its all-new (somewhat overdue) turbo-diesel.
New E-Class range a semi-sports shape. Its two-bar grille with the central three-pointed star sits over large foglight openings.
If buyers want a more traditional Mercedes-Benz appearance they can opt for an Exclusive Line package that has a traditional grille, with the three-pointed stare mounted at the front of the bonnet.
The rear is rather softer than we like in shape, though not as soft as in some other current Benz models.
The interior lighting now uses 100 per cent energy-saving LEDs. The ambient lighting gives you a choice of no fewer than 64 colours. It can be used in the complete interior, or in areas chosen by the occupants. Trim parts, the central display, front stowage facility on the centre console, handle recesses, door pockets, front and rear footwells can be turned on or off. However, all the chosen areas share the same colour.
The dashboard is thoroughly modern, leaning very much in a high-tech direction. It has a glass screen running two thirds of the way across. There are two separate areas, one directly in front of the driver containing the major instruments that can be set up in different ways to suit the drivers. The other glass-dash section contains the satellite navigation maps and the Mercedes’ Comand displays, more about these in a moment.
Interestingly, a smaller version of the satellite navigation can also be shown on the dash directly in front of the driver. A head-up display is an option.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Power of the new Mercedes E-Class comes from a variety of four- and six-cylinder turbocharged petrol or diesel engines, with a hybrid coming later.
The four-cylinder turbo-diesel installed in our test car is a completely new design. A 2.0-litre unit, it produces 143 kilowatts of power and 400 Newton metres of torque.
A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard. Drive is to the rear wheels, an all-wheel-drive model is sold in some countries and may come to Australia.
Mercedes offers a full range of satellite navigation, audio and communication connectivity by way of the latest version of its long-running Comand system. The steering wheel has touch-sensitive controls similar to those on smartphones. By using horizontal and vertical swiping movements you can control many functions.
Mercedes says this is in line with its motto, ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road’ and the system minimises driver distraction. We couldn’t agree more…
The new Mercedes E-Class has an astonishing array of safety features as standard and easily achieved a five-star Euro NCAP rating. Even more important the Driver Assistance Package Plus has been installed in all Australian imports. This does everything it can to prevent a crash but, if one becomes inevitable, the Merc will do its best to minimise damage to occupants.
As the new E-Class is longer, sits on a larger wheelbase and has a wider track there’s increased legroom in the rear seat. Not quite stretch-out but certainly good for adults, though some sharing on legroom may sometimes be required.
The rear bench seat in the new E-Class sedan comes as a fixed unit, the centre armrest has a stowage box and two pop-out drinks holders. Interestingly, there’s the option of a three-piece backrest with 40/20/40 folding split.
Boot capacity remains the same as in the superseded E-Class sedan.
The now defunct old turbo-diesel engine was pretty noisy, especially when cold, the new one is right is up with the best in the class in low noise and vibration levels.
Throttle response is pretty good and the big torque that comes in once turbo is spinning to maximum effect is much appreciated, particularly when overtaking in tight areas.
Our only complaint was that the stop-start system saw the diesel come back on with a bit of a thump at times.
Fuel consumption was generally in the six to seven litres per hundred kilometres range on motorways as the engine was barely working due to the high gears in the auto. Around town it seldom got over 10 litres per hundred.
Interior quietness is a feature of the new E-Class. Some coarse-chip sections did increase noise levels, though this wasn’t to an annoying extent we had expected better.
Handling is progressive and predictable with cornering ability well beyond that likely to be tackled by most drivers. There’s a staggering array of electronic aids to keep you out of trouble should you seriously miscalculate a bend.
Prestige, style, performance with economy – the new Mercedes-Benz E 220d has it all.
E 200 sedan: $89,900
E 220d sedan: $92,900
E 350d sedan: $134,900
E 200 Estate wagon: $87,855
E 400 Estate wagon: $138,225
E 250d Estate wagon: $107,855
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.