When anyone talks about the executive luxury saloons, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is what comes to my mind first. The E-Class has set a benchmark in this segment in terms of luxury, comfort, features, safety and innovations. It was only due to the E-Class getting old and due for a replacement that the C-Class achieved the highest sales numbers in India for the brand in 2016. Out of the one lakh cars sold by Mercedes in India since 1999, more than 34,000 of them are E-Class’.
Mercedes-Benz had to do something about this, and the answer to that is the tenth-generation E-Class. However, for the first time, Mercedes is getting the long wheelbase version of their ever-popular sedan here. And it makes sense too. Knowing most of the owners of the E-Class are chauffeur-driven, the carmaker seems to have made a wise decision. So, here we are in Goa, to find out how capable this E-Class is to let owners indulge in the brand’s new iteration of comfort and luxury.
The E-Class sticks to the typical Mercedes-Benz design language as seen on the C-Class and the S-Class. And this is a good thing as we all love it. But then again, it’s so similar now that at first glance the E-Class can be mistaken for the C-Class. The changes become evident only when you look closely to notice the new grille, headlamps and bumper design.
I wish the three-pointed logo on the long bonnet was retained instead of the embossed one now. Then, it goes without saying that there will be loads of space inside due to the extended length of the car. The sloping roof ends in the new LED tail lamps, which again remind you of the C-Class. And despite the known shape and design, the E-Class looks royal.
The interior of the E-Class is typical of what we have come to expect from Mercedes. Subtle styling and sober use of colours in the materials make for a pleasant sight. However, it would have been great if the brand introduced the fully digital instrument cluster instead of the dual-pod one. Nevertheless, the dashboard with the black ash wood accents looks stylish. It flows gracefully towards the centre, where the new 12.3-inch display finds major prominence. Touch sensitive controls on the steering wheel are a new addition and work exceptionally well once one gets used to them.
Of course, the S-Class inspired elements are bound to please buyers. These include ambient lighting with 64 different colours and shades, a Burmester 3D sound system and new rear seating adjustments. All very practical and usable features. On the safety front, there are seven airbags, ABS, ESP, and traction control. There’s also a 360-degree camera with auto-park assist feature, which helps in finding a parking slot and guides the car into the slot on its own. Pretty neat.
This extended wheelbase saloon is a stretched version of E-Class W213 which has been specifically developed for markets like ours and China to offer more space and comfort at the rear. And it does that handsomely. Measuring 5,063mm in length, it is 184mm longer than the standard E-Class, and the wheelbase gets stretched by 205mm! The extra legroom only adds to the comfort of the rear passengers. The seats get white (or black) artico leather that looks and feels premium. At the press of a button on the rear door pads, the rear seats can be reclined and the front seats can also be moved forward to create more room.
The supportive rear backrests get a soft pillow headrest which lets your head sink in; a perfect recipe for a power nap. Though the contours of the rear seat is perfect to pamper two passengers, a third passenger can be easily accommodated here. There aren’t any cup holders at the back and passengers will have to make do with bottle holders in the door pockets.Boot?
The E-Class will come in both petrol and diesel engine options. We sampled the 350d that is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel mill. This unit belts out 254bhp and a massive 620Nm of torque. It scores high on refinement, but the same can't be said about the way it sounds. It may be silent at idle and till about 2,500rpm, but post that it becomes noticeably loud. Thankfully you won't have to rev it hard often as the torquey engine is good enough to maintain good cruising speeds even at revs as low as 1,500rpm. The nine-speed automatic gearbox plays an important role here with its closely stacked gear ratios. It shifts gears smoothly and is quick to respond too. Overtaking thus becomes an easy task and the humungous torque keeps the momentum going.
The five driving modes Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual let you alter the engine response, steering and suspension set-up. In Sport and Sport+ modes the car is quite quick and always on its toes, but I wasn’t really keen on driving it that way since it can easily cruise at high speeds even in the Eco mode! Plus, in the narrow lanes of Goa, I’d rather stick to the Comfort mode as it made me feel at home. Needless to say, I chose Comfort mode even when I was seated at the rear section. As a matter of fact, the sound insulation is so good that I could instantly doze off.
A significant contributor to the comfort levels in this saloon is the air suspension; which is a first for the E-Class. The car literally glides over well paved roads with only a slight up-and-down movement on broken sections. At higher speeds though, these movements gradually increase due to the softly set suspension. That said, sharp potholes and broken roads also send a jolt across the cabin resulting in a thud. But most cars in this segment tend to behave in the same manner.
Furthermore, the 120mm of ground clearance is just about enough to not scrape the underbody on rough roads. Even though the ride height can be raised courtesy the air suspension, the long wheelbase calls for extra attention while going over speed breakers. Thanks to the 17-inch wheels shod with Goodyear radial tyres, it does a good job on our road conditions. Push the E-Class around a corner, and the body roll becomes evident in Comfort mode, but it reduces in Sport mode as the suspension stiffens up a bit. On the other hand, the car remains stable around bends and anyway earns brownie points for its straight line stability.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||254bhp @ 3,600rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||620Nm @ 1,600rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||-|
|Tyre size||225/45 R17|
|Different driving modes||Yes|
|360 degree camera with park assist||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||350d||530d M Sport|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||254bhp @ 3,600rpm||258bhp @ 4000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||620Nm @ 1,600rpm||560Nm @ 1500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||-||65|
|Tyre size||225/45 R17||245/45 R18, 275/40 R18|
If you think about it, this is the first time Mercedes has made a new-generation model (in LWB form) specifically for the Indian market. This long-wheelbase version will be sold as the E 350d LWB in the diesel guise, and there will also be a petrol 200 which will show up at the launch on February 28. With the increase in the car’s size, we can expect Mercedes to ask for a sizeable premium over the standard sedan. However, since it’s not a CBU, we can expect an aggressive price tag that should lure customers. But that’s for later. For now, the new E-Class comes across as a promising product to carry forward the brand’s legacy. A complete package for a typical E-Class loyalist, and a prospective buyer.
Pictures: Kapil Angane