LONG before the W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class went into production, Mercedes-Benz set out to convince the world a technology superstar was about to be born.
There was, this strategy implied, a brain-swelling amount of innovative excellence packed into the new E-Class. More, even, than in the still-youthful and higher ranking Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Inevitably, many of the new E-Class’s advances rely on digital technology. There are programs, processors and sensors behind so much that this car can do, and Mercedes-Benz clearly has invested immense effort in engineering and developing them.
The E-Class’s handling is confident and capable, though this isn’t a car that does exciting intimacy. But behind its haughty remoteness from the driver, there’s a lot of fundamentally sound and nicely polished engineering. The effectiveness of its ESC and ABS, for example, point to expert and painstaking calibration work.
At cruising speeds on decently surfaced roads the E-Class is regal. Refinement is outstanding. Its slippery shape generates little wind noise – Mercedes-Benz claims a Cd figure of just 0.26 – while road noise levels are minimal. The engines are hushed unless rushed, too.
Among them, the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 of the E400 stood out for its sometimes eerie silence. The new-generation 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in the 220d is also remarkable, and not only for the 7.4L/100km consumption we recorded. As well as seeming to reset the refinement benchmark for its class a notch higher, this diesel also equals or bests the new E-Class’s turbo 2.0-litre petrol fours.
Also noted was the excellence of the new Mercedes-made nine-speed automatic used in the E-Class. Always alert but never intrusive, it’s so good that it’s easy to overlook. Complaints? Some judges noted their unshakeable loathing of Mercedes’ steering-column-mounted selector wand.
There’s very little else to dislike inside the new E-Class. Even better than the S-Class, thought some. Mercedes-Benz Australia’s decision to equip every model with the luscious Widescreen Cockpit display certainly lifts the techno-tone, but this car also gets so many of the mundane things right.