When a manufacturer decides to totally revamp one of their most important models, you can normally stand by for oodles of disappointed or bundles of joy. It’s a brave thing to do - as they say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and although the Mercedes-Benz E-Class was certainly not broken, it was time for a redesign.
And oh boy, what a cracking job they have done.
The E-Class has been with us since 1993 with the E, as a suffix, initially standing for Einspritzmotor, (German for fuel injected engine). Once all models had that feature, it was moved to a prefix to denote the model.
The E-Class is Merc’s best selling model with over 13 million of them sold as of 2015. This new model will continue this trend, l am sure. There are few better badges to have on the bonnet of your car than the three-pointed star and most agree, hence it won the Best Business Car in the 2016 Telegraph Car Awards.
The body is a handsome beast although rather understated but climb inside and you understand why the Germans are the masters of their craft. It is luxurious, brilliantly bolted tougher and with more safety equipment than l have space for - even if l had another eight pages. The large colour screen dominates the dash with the option of another screen that makes the dash totally virtual with assorted customising options.
Mercedes models are all renowned for their pillow-like drive and although the less powerful models come with standard suspension, they can all be upgraded to air suspension, which to me is a no brainer. We also have another of the company’s trade marks - the noise, or lack of it. It is virtually silent on the road and even with the diesel engine, there is barely a whisper. The compromise is some wobbling on bumpy B-roads but l will take that compromise any day.
I am a bit of a sucker for great leather seats and here l was in my element. Beautifully hand-stitched with only the finest unblemished leather - l could sit here all day without ever driving.
Mercedes is still the only manufacturer offering the auto control on a stalk off the steering column thus leaving acres of space between the front seats and they have made good use of it. Assorted storage bins take the space, below a real old fashioned clock - yes an actual clock in this annoyingly digital age.
Amongst the engine line-up is a brand new 2.0 litre engine, codenamed OM654, capable of 0-62 in 7.5 seconds and with enviable economy and emissions. There is also a 3.0 litre V6 diesel, a 2.0 litre petrol hybrid and a 3.0 litre V6 AMG model. Driving is made easier with all the tech gizmos such as the new Drive Pilot enhanced adaptive cruise control and it has a semi-autonomous mode that will, supposedly, stop an idiot like me from crashing. I tried it and it works although it is still a surprise event even to someone like me who drives 52 new cars a year. l am just not used to the car taking control but it really is quite mesmerising and, don’t tell Mercedes, but l could not resist driving towards a brick wall to test it. I am overwhelmed with joy that it works.
You will never notice the automatic changing gear as it does so with sublime efficiency and the steering is equally effortless with an impressive turning circle. The other thing that impresses is the linear movement of the pedals. There are no jerks or stuttered action when you accelerate or brake just a smooth fluid movement and this is something that has only ever really been evident in top of the range Merc’s. I have personally driven an S-Class for years and am very used to it but when l had an old E-Class Estate this fluidity was absent. This is quite a class act.
The new E-Class, like all Merc’s, does not come cheap and you can certainly get a cheaper car that will do some of what this will do but for the money, you will not find a car on the market that will do everything this will do. The compensation here is the residual value, the astonishing build quality and the pure pleasure of driving. Go and test drive it and you will understand.
Model tested: E-Class E220d
Engine: 1,950 cc
Power: 194 bhp
Performance: 0-62 mph 7.3 seconds
Top Speed: 149 mph
Economy: 72.4 combined
Price from: £36,230.00