TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
Mercedes-Benz always strives to be at the forefront of car technology, and with the E-Class it has taken digital displays and driver assistance systems to new levels, even surpassing the usually more advanced (and more expensive) S-Class models. The E400 is the top of the range standard model (below the two AMG variants) with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine powering all four wheels.
• The E400’s cabin refinement is outstanding, especially in Comfort mode where it seems to glide along with minimal wind, road and engine noise.
• Driving modes including Sport and Sport+ take things up a notch by hardening the suspension tune and low-end engine performance through the nine-speed automatic transmission. Combined with its accurate steering and 4MATIC all-wheel drive system the E400 can handle bends in a convincingly sporty manner.
• The 245kW/450Nm twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine is very much a quiet achiever, going about its business with a whisper while having all the power and responsiveness you’ll ever need. It will indulge your inner hoon with a throaty roar when flooring it in Sports +, though you’ll be well over the speed limit before you can have a really good listen.
• The equipment list has to be written on a scroll and includes everything from ambient cabin lighting with a choice of 64 colours and a head-up display, to pre-entry climate control and panoramic sunroof.
• The E400’s driver assist technology is class-leading with lane keeping and active cruise control that combines with autonomous braking to bring about a gentle stop behind the car in front at traffic lights, and automatically sets off again when the traffic starts moving.
• The interior brilliantly blends luxury and contemporary sophistication that, like a great five-star hotel room that makes you mouth ‘wow’ when you get in. The fittings exude quality and everything is laid out in a way that’s both intuitive and pleasing to the eye.
• The digital dashboard mightn’t please the purists but should amaze everyone else. The traditional inbuilt gauge cluster has been replaced by a panoramic screen that looks like a skateboard-sized iPad. This actually contains two 31.2cm displays, one with digital gauges and driver information, and the other for infotainment.
• Being all digital, you can change the look of the main driving gauges and also replace the tachometer with other information including the satnav map.
• The COMAND infotainment is displayed on the left-hand 31.2cm hi-res panoramic display is easy to use via the control dial/pad and touch-sensitive steering wheel controls, and works with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the Mercedes app. Initial syncing to a device can be complex because of the features such as in-car WiFi from your phone.
• Entertainment includes DAB digital radio through an epically involving 13-speaker Burmester surround system.
• The Auto Engine Stop fuel saving function is excellent providing a seamless start when needed. So quiet is the engine and so good the sound system you don’t even realise when the engine stops and starts.
• The E400’s ride on its standard air suspension is generally good. However, certain road imperfections can badly unsettle the car and its dampers take too long to regain control of the body.
• Low profile 20-inch tyres don’t absorb bumps too well which can undermine the air suspension and mean potholes are met with an alarming thud.
• The nine-speed automatic has gear selector mounted on the steering wheel column, which isn’t becoming of a car like this. It would be nice to see a shifter on the centre console.
• The tracking pad and dial infotainment controls look unwieldly and their metal finish gets incredibly hot when the car is parked in the sun. I’d prefer just the dial.
• While considered a large car, the back seat is a little tight for three adults though it’s a lot more comfortable than the C-Class sedan and there’s decent leg and head room.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The $139,000 price tag puts the E400 in esteemed company, but there aren’t many cars even with this price tag that have as much state-of-the-art technology. Contenders include the Audi A6 and Jaguar XF, though its most obvious competitor is the all-new BMW 540i, which costs $3000 less though it doesn’t have AWD.