Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2009 - 2016)
A piece of quiet
It's a hectic life in the motoring industry. One car is presented right after the other and it takes a lot of effort to keep up. It is very stressful and after a while the fast pace takes control. Until yours truly steps into the new E-Class.
The test car is the "Elegance" version which welcomes its occupants in a calming ambience of warm colours combined with real, unpolished wood. Of course the E-Class is also available with the more traditional high-gloss eucalyptus wood and either black or aluminium panels.
The front seats can be adjusted in every imaginable way to support drivers of every possible posture. For a car like this, which is used intensively, this is very important. A very pleasant option is the "multi-countour seat", which blows air in the side of the seat temporarily to offer extra support when cornering fast.
The E-Class also offers plenty of space in the rear. Compared to its predecessor the roof line has been extended, allowing for more headroom in the back. The luggage space is huge and can optionally be fitted with a handy, removable box so fragile luggage can be separated.
Once underway with the E-Class one notices that the car performs with remarkable ease. For this test drive three engines have been tried. Only the absolute base model ("E200 CDI") sometimes struggled a little at low revs, but on the whole even this entry level "E" offers the performance and comfort one may expect from a car like this.
Both the "E250 CDI" (diesel) and "E250 CGI" (Charged Gasoline Injection) come highly recommended. These four cylinder engines replace the six cylinder blocks from the previous generation. Thanks to the addition of two turbos they offer lots of power even a lot of revs, giving the "E" the same grandeur. The E-Class can be driven at breakneck speeds, while never disturbing the peace and quiet in the cabin.
The turbo technology makes the E-Class significantly more fuel efficient than before. Even compared to it's main rivals, the E-Class is one of the most economical cars in its class. Especially when driving long distances, this saves a lot of money.
A large car is stable thanks it its long wheel base and width by nature. With a length of 4.87m and a width of 1.85m the "E" certainly isn't a small car. Yet the E-Class feels less colossal than most of its competitors, which is very pleasant in city driving.
As usual with Mercedes-Benz emphasis is on comfort, yet the new generation offers more dynamics than ever before.
Bumps in the road can hardly be felt inside the car, but the E-Class tilts less than before. If necessary the E-Class can corner at very high speed, but this is done with such ease that it feels much slower than it actually is.
All safety systems Mercedes-Benz has to offer are available on the E-Class. These are no longer restricted to Mercedes' top model: the S-Class. Despite what Mercedes promises, none of these systems are new or unique. The fact that they are all available on one and the same car is special though.
Very advanced, but less useful, is a camera that reads the lines on the road and warns when the driver accidentally crosses a continuous line (read: changes lanes without using the indicator). Those who need such a system simply shouldn't be driving a car at all!
The same goes for automatic recognition of road signs. However smart the system is, a good driver is able to read the signs without the aid of a computer which displays them on screen.
Let there be light
A feature that also seems very interesting is the night view camera. However, in real life this is more of a toy than a useful device. This camera was already available in the S-Class and its picture was projected over the speedometer.
In the E-Class the image appears on a separate display so that the driver has to concentrate on the traffic ahead, mind the speedometer and additionally look at the display of the night view camera. In real life this is just too much so the camera is more of a distraction than a real driver's aid.
Moreover, Mercedes does offer a system that is much more useful when driving in the dark. "Adaptive Highbeam Assist" adjusts the light beam to the road conditions. Compared to similar systems from other car makers, Mercedes' system is much more flexible and therefore more effective. On dark roads the beam is automatically and continuosly extended (up to 300 meters!). It is also raised so visibility in the dark is unparalleled.
As soon as the electronics detect another car, the high beam is automatically dimmed. Although the E-Class sometimes makes a lighthouse look like a mere torch, oncoming traffic never complained so apparently the computers dims the lights in time every time.
Also very handy is "Blind Spot Assist": a warning light mounted in the outside mirrors which indicates that another vehicle is in the blind spot.
"Attention Assist" studies the driver's behaviour at the start of each journey. If the driver starts behaving irregularly after many hours, this assistant concludes that the driver is getting tired and suggests a coffee break.
Each of these systems make daily life with the E-Class easier. The knowledge that the computer always watches over the driver gives the same safe and relaxed feeling as one would have at home.
"Welcome home", is the credo of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. A test drive explains why: the E-Class does everything with such ease that both driver and passengers feel just as relaxed and safe as they would at home.
The E-Class performs very well, offers great comfort and is very safe. The engines are significantly more efficient than before. Even compared to its main rivals, the E-Class offers better fuel economy, which saves a lot of money in the long run.
In short: the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a piece of quiet in today's hectic world and a wonderful way to relax while driving to or from work (Ivo Kroone).