This is the most comprehensive mid-life facelift ever carried out by Mercedes, and that’s quite some claim. The E-Class has been with us since 1993 and it has sold by the bucket load, over 13 million as of 2015. So why the major facelift?
Well, if you have a winner, make it better and stay ahead of the game, and l was not disappointed with their efforts. Its smoother, slicker, quicker and feels totally bomb-proof. They have shaved the sides and given it a more coupe-like nose.
Inside, we are moving continually towards the class-leading S-Class, and a further push towards a more minimalistic approach, although nothing is missing. Its just all a tad easier to use and on the eye. The dash flows like a Frank Geary design and sweeps across your horizon, interrupted by four stylish air vents and a neat row of toggle buttons. Most everything else is on the rotary wheel that is a doddle to use. The tech is incredible, with Drive Pilot taking us a step closer to autonomous driving with laser range-finding, self-parking that can be controlled from your phone whilst you are outside the car, head-up display, the brilliant Brake Assist, Comand on-line Nav system, keyless go and more besides. It will follow the car in front, brake, swerve and manoeuvre with no assistance required from the lump of flesh sitting in the drivers seat.
It comes with AppleCarPlay that allows a full interface with your phone so that the 12.3-inch screen assumes the role. Use voice command or the steering wheel controls and the phone is hardwired into the car and comes with Bluetooth and WiFi. (Read Anger Management ‘The Science of Stupid’ for my current view on technology in our lives).
Enough playing with everything and licking that tactile dash: what’s it like to drive?
The ride quality starts at exceptional and, with the optional air suspension, goes all the way to extraordinary. OK, Mercs are known for this, but in the past this was a compromise in handling, but no more. It gets down the road at quite a lick, and if you are impressed with 0-62 in 8.8 seconds, then there is great news. That’s the slowest diesel E220. The 250 needs 7.3 seconds, the 350 6.6, and if, like me, you are slightly deranged, plump for the thunderous AMG E63 S (5.5 litres of twin-turbo charged gorgeousness), and see 62 mph arrive in an earth-shattering 3.6 seconds.
Its rivals are no slouches, and this sector’s battleground is hotly contested. The BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Audi A6 are all exceptional cars. The Beemer is punching toe-to-toe but only comes with a roof. Jag just need a little work on build quality and the A6 is coming up fast but lacks that aesthetic refinement and has a roof. The Merc has them all in one very noticeable respect: unlike its rivals, you can have it as a saloon, estate or drop top. You could name the Lexus GS and Volvo S80 here, but one is Japanese and one’s a Volvo, so l think not.
What is it with the Germans? How did they get so far ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to build quality and sheer breathtaking efficiency? I know we Brits hate the thought of the Germans ‘ruling’ us as the strongest European state, but maybe we should just shut up and let them get on with it. Imagine if everything in life functioned like a German car? Many of you will go for the entry model E220 CDI, and if you have to, go ahead, but l beseech you to look down the back of the sofa or be a sycophant to the boss and step up to the E250 at least, as that is where this new model comes into its own. I would also advise the AMG models as they will result in a better re-sale value. Deliveries start in May, so join the queue.
Compared to its competition, the new E-Class is not cheap but the old idiom of ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been more spot-on.
Model Tested: E220 SE CDI
Engine: 2.0 litre
Performance: 0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Top Speed: 149mph
Economy: 72.4 mpg combined