Why would I buy it?
- Rear seat space
- Feature list
Why would I avoid it?
- Low-speed ride
- Not the most dynamic to drive
Engine and Performance
The E-Class ‘E200’ petrol we have in this review uses a 194bhp/320Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that powers the rear wheels through a nine-speeder auto transmission. Like most petrols, this one’s just as refined. But on account of the abundance of power at hand, it’s certainly engaging to drive. The fact that it’s so potent anywhere in power-band, has the 9G-Tronic gearbox to thank for, partially.
Barring of course the mild lag in kick-down situations, this gearbox smartly makes use of its nine gears to serve just the right amount of oomph when need be. This comes especially handy while pulling off the odd quick-overtake. Plus, with so much torque spread across the revs, we noticed that it cruises easily at triple digits at low RPMs; making mile-munching an effortless affair.
Regardless of whether it’s the tight city traffic or the highway duties, we eventually learnt that this Mercedes 9G-Tronic box puts its best foot forward when it's left to quietly do its own thing in the background. With very little wiggle room, there’s no need to take control via the paddle shifts unless you’re looking to aimlessly set the roads on fire in a limousine.
Needless to say, the E200, too, gets driving modes such as Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. And as one toggles from Eco to Sport+, responses get sharper and so does the functioning of stability control, for favourable traction on the surface. Call me daft, but the Sport+ is for me any time and day!
Ride Quality and Handling
It may come as a surprise, but the acclaimed air suspension only makes it to the top-spec E350d variant. As things stand here though, this E200’s slow speed ride quality is on the firmer side. But the real downer is the suspension noise that’s prominent over a rough patch. Something that doesn’t speak well for a Rs 70 lakh plus luxury car. On the contrary, at highway speeds, the firm damping assists the bump absorption tremendously.
And this, coupled with the lengthier footprint, gives the E-Class solid straight-line stability. But the added length was never going to make it a corner carver; especially with comfort as top brass. The steering, as such, has a nice heft to it, but with so much real estate hanging behind you, it’s in the best interests that one plans their moves for a comforting drive experience.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
Since this is the long-wheelbase E-Class, let’s talk about the second row first. With an added 140mm over the standard car, one can not only recline the twin rear seats lavishly, the left occupant can push the front passenger seat farther to stretch out even more. Our images also reveal that there’s a visibly liberal head- and leg-room for both rear occupants. Another feature that tingles your senses is the removable tablet running the same MBUX user interface as the infotainment system upfront and is perfect for rear-seat passengers to infinitely control the various functions of the car.
Even if it comes to getting behind the wheel of the E200, it won’t disappoint. There’s this lovely amalgamation of beige upholstery/cabin materials, the beautiful black ash wood trim, and the infinite sums of soft-touch detailing that spell an incantation on your mind. Fit and finish, along with ergonomics too, is simply top class. The seats themselves, are in a class of their own, and once in a while, you can’t help but think how well they cocoon your driver!
But till we get bored of it, the second biggest highlight of the E-Class after rear seat comfort has to be the dual 12.3-inch full HD displays that sport the latest MBUX infotainment system on the left and the instrument cluster on right. In short, they’re simply brilliant, with pristine graphics, are extremely customisable, have excellent processing speeds and quick touch responses. What’s more, all controls are via the steering wheel.
While most of these also hold for the infotainment touchscreen display on the left, it can be also accessed via the touchpad and voice commands, plus, it is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatible too. Some MBUX functions include the mobile app ‘Mercedes Me’ functionalities such as pre-cooling or pre-heating the cabin, choose the ambient light shade, music control, emergency call services, and also honking if you’re trying to locate your car in a parking lot. There’s also Google Home and Alexa support!
As regards the safety net on the E-Class, it gets active brake assist, auto parking assistant, 360-degree camera (AMG line only), 'Pre-Safe' noise dampening protection for your ears, and tyre pressure monitoring. Also, all versions of the E-Class get seven airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, ABS with EBD, traction control, and an electronic stability program.
In its 2021 avatar, the E-Class gets a new face that comprises the multi-element LED units and the large hood with edgy ridges that are also visible from the driver’s seat. The grille too is all-new and similar to the Panamericana grille that’s seen on Merc’s more performance-oriented models. In profile, nothing much has changed in this E-Class other than the double-spoke alloys and large ring of chrome around the glass area. At the rear, the biggest updates are the wraparound tail lights with internals that look gorgeous when lit up, and the abundance of bling (chrome) that can even put the jewellery trade to shame. Well, that’s just about the top and bottom of it.
In its fifth-generation avatar, the E-Class was always a competent package. But with this facelift, its strengths have multiplied, making it a stronger contender even before one accounts for the shattering rear seat space owing to the long-wheelbase chassis. With a price tag that ranges from Rs 74.12 to Rs 95.81 lakh (OTR Mumbai, petrol/diesel), the E-Class is one Merc that makes sense for those who want a lot more than the C-Class, but don’t want to dig deep into their pockets while at it.
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi