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New Car/Review


Mercedes Benz E430 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Mercedes Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 56,050
     Price As Tested                                    $ 57,920
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 4.3 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 260 cid/4266 cc
     Horsepower                                   275 @ 5750 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               295 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  111.5"/70.8"/189.4"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3985 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           235/45R17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.29


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/23/20
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                  16.5 @ 85.0 mph
     Top-speed                  (Electronically limited) 130 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - We always look forward to testing new luxury cars and some of our favorites are the Mercedes Benz models. They're luxurious and fast, and feature a plethora of goodies to impress its drivers. This time we drove the new E430 sedan which has more options than we could test in a single week. Its 4.3-liter V8 is a 24-valve, single overhead cam design with an alloy cylinder block and heads which produces 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It's quick, averaging 6.2 seconds from 0 to 60. We loved its acceleration and its smooth five-speed automatic transmission with Touch Shift, a system that let us manually change gears by nudging the shift lever to the left or right from the drive position. It's fuel-efficient for a such a big engine, averaging 18 mpg city, 25 highway, and it's an ultra low emission vehicle, meaning it's "friendly" for the environment.

MIKELE - I'm glad it's an eco-friendly car, Bren, because the earth's ozone layer is said to look like a big ol' doughnut. The E430 handled well, as I expected. The press kit says it's because of its front independent double wishbone suspension with triangular lower control arms, stabilizer bar, gas-pressurized shock absorbers and coil springs. Its rear suspension, also featuring gas-pressurized shock absorbers, coil springs and stabilizer bar, has an independent five-arm multi-link geometry to really help it ride smooth. I still have a hard time understanding all that stuff but I'm getting better.

BRENDAN - One of its neatest options is its Electronic Stability Program and Automatic Slip Control. The first compares the driver's inputs to the vehicle's response, then brakes individual front or rear wheels and/or reduces engine power as needed to help correct either plowing or fishtailing. It also adds the function of traction control, which senses drive-wheel slip and individually brakes the slipping wheel, also reducing excess engine power until you've got the car under control again. That's very advanced technology.

MIKELE - It sounds like you've have been reading those press packets too. Inside, the E430 really has a nice, luxurious look that is accented with woodgrain and lots of supple leather. The ten-way power adjustable front seats are as comfortable as you can get, and they have a three-position memory system switch on the interior door panels so you can get in and out easier, and it remembers your favorite seating setups. The electronic analog speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature gauges are a pleasure to look at, and the sunroof can be opened with a single touch. A leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob have a pleasant feel, and the steering wheel also has additional controls for the basic audio system. Optional features include a convenient navigation system and phone functions.

BRENDAN - I have two gripes about the car. It only had a cassette player in its eight-speaker Bose sound system, and the power window controls are on the center console instead of the interior door panels. Compact disc players are essential for us and I'm used to reaching to the door panel when I roll down the glass but over time, I guess I'd get used to the Mercedes way of doing things.

MIKELE - It's a beautiful car on the outside, Bren, and it's functional too. Its dual heated power mirrors are linked to driver's seat memory and the passenger side mirror tilts down when you're backing up for added visibility in the right spot. The driver's side mirror automatically dims when a following light is too bright, and the rear window is electrically heated with an automatic shutoff timer. Mercedes is lauded for making safe vehicles, and the E430 is no exception. Forward air bags are standard and so are side-impact air bags. Rear passengers also have door-mounted air bags. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and front and rear crumple zones make an ultra-safe cockpit.

BRENDAN - These Mercedes' are expensive but they're worth it. I wouldn't mind having one.

MIKELE - So are babies, Bren, and that's what comes next for us.