TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
The E-Class is Mercedes-Benz’s large sedan and sits between the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class. It is one of the technology leaders in the Mercedes range and debuts more advanced crash avoidance technology that makes it the most advanced car produced by the German luxury carmaker. Prices for the E-Class start at about $90,000 for the four-cylinder models and will rise to beyond $200,000 for the flagship E63 AMG with its V8 engine. In between are more four-cylinder models, a V6 diesel and a plug-in hybrid.
- Elegant cabin that blends traditional elements – the circular air vents and sweeping dashboard – with modern features, such as the twin 12.3-inch high resolution LCD screens that make up the central infotainment screen and the driver’s instrument cluster.
- Clever touchpads on each side of the steering wheel. They are about the size of a small fingernail and were inspired by a smartphone’s screen. The left one controls the infotainment screen and the right one the instrument cluster. Between them all major functions of the car can be controlled.
- Frugal four-cylinder engines. Neither the diesel or petrol engines in the E-Class are particularly powerful for the car’s size, but each has plenty of pulling power in everyday driving; something that ensures they easily keep pace with city traffic. There’s also a V6 diesel on sale, although we haven’t driven it yet. The hybrid and V8 engines are yet to arrive in the E-Class in Australia.
- Comfort. Even with the basic steel spring suspension, the E-Class is beautifully controlled and comfortable – with the exception of the occasional sharp-edged pothole that can catch it out. The air suspension ups the ante with some extra plushness. It’s also quiet and refined, making for comfortable cruising.
- Safety. The E-Class has a serious safety artillery, covering everything from auto braking in forward and reverse, to lane-keeping assistance and blind spot warning. There’s also a system to help counter crosswinds and another to help push front seat occupants towards the centre of a crash to reduce injury in a side impact.
- The price. Entry to the E-Class range has increased by about $10,000, although Mercedes-Benz justifies it by pointing to the extra equipment, which is, it must be said, plentiful.
- Despite the generous spread of gear, leather trim is still optional on the most popular E200 and E220d models. Instead you get Artico, which looks like leather – and is generally accepted to last longer and wear less – but doesn’t quite have the suppleness of the real stuff.
- The Comand system and touchpad controllers generally do a good job of navigating the myriad electronics, but occasionally there’s one too many menus to change things.
- The Pilot Parking system is great in theory and superb when it works – accurately guiding the E-Class between parked cars – but it is not nearly as good as a human at spotting a parking spot in the first place.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The BMW 5-Series is one of the biggest competitors for the E-Class, with Audi’s A6 not far behind. Also worth throwing into the mix are the Lexus GS, Jaguar XF and upcoming Volvo S90. More expensive models are also shopped against the Porsche Panamera.