The ultimate in executive comfort, the new E-Class

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Being a car maker for the last 130 years means having lots of practice. The Mercedes-Benz brand has been built on sedans. Their history of making four-door luxury cars, built for comfort, stretches back over this period. Their most popular sized sedan over these 13 decades would be medium sized, like the E-Class?

 

So has Mercedes-Benz perfected the art of the sedan with its all-new E-Class? 

 

Well, speaking of history, the nice thing about older cars, the ones from the 70's, 80's and 90's, was that they were more individual, despite sharing similar family DNA features. 

 

Today things have changed. There are way more models available and, with that, brand identification has become more important. Additionally, sedans aren't in vogue, as they once were. Instead, SUV's are the flavour of the decade. The problem with car brands of late, and more specifically, the German ones, are that "the brand" has a generic look. This look gets heavily embossed onto each model created - good for brand unity, but this ethos does little for individuality. Think of it like so: you design a new t-shirt, it's awesome, so you make it in small, medium and large. That's fine for a t-shirt, but when Mercedes create a design that's gorgeous and uses it on a collection of cars, it comes across as lazy. Basically, increasing or decreasing scale, then applying it to the C, E and S-Class range of vehicles.

 

 So yes, the new E-Class is good-looking, and a medium-sized replica to the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class. 

 

Despite its copycat looks, the new E-Class is hailed as the brand's most advanced vehicle, featuring a list as long as my arm of technological wizardry. Some standard while a host is optional. Some a necessity, especially the safety items that are standard, the rest are more of a want than a need. Of special note is the Forward Collision Prevention system. This system automatically warns the driver that you a quickly approaching another vehicle, then automatically applies the brake if the driver doesn't. It's a fantastic safety feature, especially for those distracted drivers. The Distronic Cruise Control now incorporates active steering. This feature monitors the car in front of it and the lanes on either side of it. It uses these markers as guidelines to steer the car for the driver. Together with Blind Spot technology, changing lanes, while the Distronic system is active, means flicking the indicator, the car will then wait for a clear space and autonomously change lanes when it is safe to do so. 

 

On the inside of the E-Class, you are made to feel special with a beautifully designed dashboard that echoes that from its siblings, the C and S-Class. There is a swooping Piano Black centre console with the new mouse pad infotainment controller. An aesthetic feature spoilt by its complex working. The infotainment system is made visible through the car's massive dash ensconced screen. Supreme in its resolution - images and design details look visibly very sharp. An option: a full-screen digital readout which replaces traditional analogue dials. If that's not for you and you like a splash of old-school detail, half the screen is balanced with a handsome set of needles and numbers. The cabin can also be enhanced - with the simple adjustment of the ambient lighting you can create 64 shades.  

 

The new E-Class offers class-leading levels of comfort. The ride quality is superb. My test car didn't feature the optional air suspension, rather, it made use of standard spring system that, on its own merit, is sublime. 

 

Also new, is the E-Classes 9-speed automatic gearbox. Another sublime and effortless feature of the car. 

 

The car I tested, a 220d was fitted with a new 2-liter turbo Diesel engine. This replaces the older 2.1-liter which dates back to 2008. Now better balanced, quieter and more economical. The unit is good for 143kW and 400Nm. This means darts to 100km/h are easy as pie and done in a smidgen over 7 seconds. The real beauty of this Diesel engine its frugality. Expect figures around the town of 7-liters. Take her on the freeway at a steady 100km/h and figures will drop to as low as 4-liters.

 

 I love the new E-Class, especially in 220d with an AMG Line. Specced in this guise it will set you back R813 000, albeit looking like a pricey C-Class. Pick it in the Exclusive package and it will look like a well-priced S-Class at R795 000. 

 

My favourite part of the new car is its initiative nature - keep the key in your pocket, touch the door handle, push the start/stop ignition button, engage reverse and the handbrake automatically releases. Stop the car in order to park it, push the start/stop button - the E-Class will automatically put the car into Park and engage the handbrake for you. Open the door and touch the door handle and the cars locked. It seamless. Effortless. Effective. 

 

Likes

Refinement.

Effective technology. 

Frugal engine.

Stunning ride quality.

 

Dislikes

Generic looks.

Complicated information system.

 

Competition 

BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Audi A6

 

Pricing

E 200 - R709 000

E 220d - R759 100

E 250 - R761 000

E 350 d - R961 000

E 400 4MATIC - R997 000

 

Service and warranty 

As with all Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars, the new E-Class comes standard with the class leading PremiumDrive 6-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.

 

My choice

E 220d - R759 100

www.mercedes-benz.co.za

 

 

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