2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review by Henny Hemmes
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
LISBON: We reported earlier on the semi-autonomous driving qualities of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W213). Its innovative technology will keep you out of trouble should you be distracted during a boring drive. The E-Class brakes when traffic stops, looks forward and even looks around corners and is the first in the industry that ‘talks’ to other cars and can inform other drivers about accidents, danger spots and possible tailbacks, by communicating via a central Daimler server. For the time being it is only possible to communicate with other new ‘E’ models, until Mercedes is implementing the technology in other models, and other manufacturers are doing the same. The E-Class gets updates on the Internet and it can park itself by remote control from the smartphone, that is elementary for other functions. The car’s login information can be stored on the phone, so that you do not even have to take the ignition key with you. These and other features that we are used to get on our smartphones, such 64 LED colors for the interior, the possibility to customize the two 12.3-inch displays that form one wide screen, voice control and the two Touch Controls on the steering wheel, will draw the attention of the younger generation.
That is precisely one of the target groups for the new E-Class. Mercedes wants to regain its number one position in the midsize luxury sedan, which it led from 2010 to 2012.
Last year, US sales of the E-Class dropped from a yearly average of 60,000 to less than 50,000 units, which could be expected of a model in its final year of production and with the upcoming new ‘intelligent’ generation already widely announced.
Compared to it predecessor, the new ‘E’ has shed around 150 pounds, thanks to the use of a combination of aluminum and high strength steel. At 115.7 inches, the wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer; the length increased by 1.7 inches to 193.8 inches, with practically the same width and height.
Packed with the latest passive and active safety technology, including the autonomous driving features, the new E-Class is well suited to attract buyers, including younger ones.
In this respect it is a bit surprising that design chief Gordon Wagoner and his team have not included the sweeping side line as used on the C-Class for a more dynamism. That does not mean I do not like it. On the contrary, its proportions are excellent and the new ‘E’ really looks sophisticated. Customers have a choice of a Luxury model with the more conventional grille and the star mounted on the hood. While the Sport models has a more slender grille and the Mercedes star mounted flat on the hood.
With the long nose and short rear end, the styling of the E-Class is undoubtedly related to that of the C- and S- Class sedans and with a coefficient of drag of 0.23, the E300 has best-in-class aerodynamics. The W213 is showcasing all that Mercedes can offer. That is, until the renewed S-Class arrives, probably in the second half of next year. Then, the flagship will not only get a modest facelift, but it will share the technology that now debuts in the new E-Class, and more.
Last year, E-Class chief engineer and project manager Michael Kelz extensively tested the new features, called Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive Next Level, with a prototype in the mountains and desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In Portugal, we drove the car in normal circumstances, in the city, on the mountain roads and the motorway.
I started my test drive with the E400 4Matic with the beautifully executed cabin, that can be backlit in 64 different colors. The beautiful stitched leather is combined with sleeker panels. Whatever trim, it all looks premium indeed.
Under the hood is the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine that is working together with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic. The V6 produces 245 kW/328 hp and 480 Nm/354 pound-feet of torque and you can hardly hear it when at work. Its sovereign character is always in the background when the car moves elegantly and fast through traffic. As I test the semi-autonomous qualities, life in the E-Class is really relaxed and comfortable. The E400 picks up speed rapidly, conquers the bends actively and lets itself be driven in a way that not many executives will ever do.
The second variant that I drove was the E300, the model that will arrive in North America in June and which will also be available as E300 4Matic. It is the first E-model ever with a 4-cylinder gasoline engine. The 2.0-liter power plant is turbocharged and produces 180 kW/245 hp with 370 Nm/273 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the outgoing six-cylinder the new I4 produces 61 hp less with the same amount of torque, but with the lighter weight of the car, it does not feel like a disadvantage. Anyway, it positively influences fuel economy, now 6.6 liter/100 km (EU cycle, which translates into an average of 43 mpg).
The E300 provides a well-balanced well-planted feel, both on the motorway and on the narrow mountain roads. Acceleration is quick and at full throttle the E300 really races forward from whatever speed you are driving. I did not use the chronograph, but am believing the 6.3 seconds that Mercedes states as its acceleration time from 0-62 mph (100 kmh).Steering is precise and offers enough information, while turn into corners is quick and exact. With optional Air Body Control adaptive air suspension (as in the S-Class), the damping is firm in Sport+ and as you can expect somewhat more ‘relaxed’ in Comfort, added by the smooth shifting 9-speed transmission.
Wrapping up, the new E-Class is well suited to be the benchmark again in the class of the luxury midsize cars. That will also include the T-model from late 2017. The Touring, or estate model of the E-Class has always been very popular in Europe and the new version will not disappoint its fans as well. May be it is time, that customers in the US look at the practical variant with a different mindset – and start to like station wagons, again!
Later this year, more power train variants, such as the E400 will follow. The new 220 diesel engine will be available on certain markets. In the US, we can also expect, a plug-in hybrid, the AMG E43 performance model and a performance-tuned AMG Sport variant.
Technical details Mercedes-Benz E-Class E300
Engine: 4-cyl. turbocharged
Capacity: 1,950 cc
Power: 180 kW/245 hp
Torque: 206 lb-ft/370 Nm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4,100 lbs
Wheelbase: 115.7 in
Acceleration 0-60 mph 6.2 sec
Top speed: 155 mph/250 km/h.
Fuel cons. average (Eu cycle):6.6 liter/100 km (Eu cycle) or 34 mpg.
CO2-emission: 149 g/km.
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