When Mercedes-Benz first setup its shop in India, it drove in with the E-Class to the party. The W124 series car had an understated design, luxurious and comfortable interior, a sublime ride quality and bulletproof mechanicals. We Indians fell in love with it but that was 18 years ago. Since then Mercedes has been the talk of the town and the sales figures speak volumes about this.
The E-Class has always appealed to the slightly older buyer, and it was this perception that the company wanted to change. So the company has introduced a face-lifted version of the W212 series model to appeal to the younger buyers. Let's find out if they have been successful in their endeavour.
Mercedes-Benz has ditched the traditional twin-pod headlamp setup of the older car and has opted for a single pod unit. The LED daytime running lamps now create the twin-pod setup visually. The main headlamp units as well as the tail lights have been given the LED treatment. The Mercedes Star now occupies the centre of the grille like other recent models from the carmaker. With an all new bumper, the car gets a traditional sunroof with a body coloured roof, unlike the Launch Edition model which got a black coloured roof and a panoramic sunroof.
The car gets a set of new design, 5-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels. The sheet metal on the side see some changes, there is a new crease which starts from the middle of the rear door right up to the middle of the tail lights. The rear is flanked by dual exhausts, one on each side.
All these design changes make the car look a lot fresher and younger than the older car. Many people in fact mistook it for an all new design, when it is just a facelift. Mercedes-Benz infact says that the car has 2000 new components as compared to the outgoing generation.
Enter the cabin and you will be greeted to a traditional high quality Mercedes-Benz setup. The interiors are all black with a splash of some dark brown wood on the door and dashboard adding a touch of class. Black appeals to the younger crowd as it feels sporty and this is what Mercedes brings to the party. The front seats are covered in Artico leather and are electrically adjustable.
The rear seats offer the best in class seat comfort with a perfectly angled backrest. A fifth passenger is not welcome, because of the high transmission tunnel in the centre. The steering wheel is electrically adjustable too and has buttons for audio and the car computer.
The car gets a three zone automatic climate control system and the buttons to operate are very intuitive. I was fiddling with them just for the heck of it. The boot is a spacious 540ltrs and can swallow your full family's baggage on long distance trips.
It also gets a COMAND screen, which is a tad too small and pretty much useless, as the car doesn't get GPS navigations or a reverse camera to utilize it.
The audio system accepts input from CDs, USB, Bluetooth and Aux-In.
On the safety front, the car comes loaded with 8-airbags, ASR, TC, ABS, PRESAFE, Parking Sensors and a whole lot more of the Techno-wizardry stuff to keep you safe.
The car is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which produces 184bhp @ 5500rpm and 300Nm of torque @ 1200-4000 rpm. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission. The engine is noisy at idle on the outside. Since the torque is produced at a low 1200rpm, the little 2.0-litre motor effortlessly pulls the 1750kg car without any drama from a standstill.
Two modes are offered, Economy and Sport. In Economy mode the gearshifts are so smooth you will hardly notice them. At a low 60-70kmph, the car has already shifted into 7th gear and you are cruising away. The Sport mode is aggressive, it will hold onto a gear till the ticker crosses the redline and there is enough torque available while downshifting.
That is where the paddle shifters come as a boon. 0-100kmph is done in a rather quick 9.5seconds and the car will hit a top speed of 213kmph if you find a road long enough to keep the accelerator pressed. The car is a moderate drinker, so expect around 8kmpl if the city and around 12-15kmpl on the highway (Economy mode). In Sport mode though, watch the 80 litre fuel tank get empty in no time.
In order to make it appeal to the younger buyer and make the car corner a little better, Mercedes-Benz has made the ride quality a bit stiffer. Riding of 245/45 R17 rubber, it's not harsh, but it's not what a traditional E-Class buyer expects either. Adaptive springs have been used on all corners, and they are supposed to alter the damping according to the driving style, soft when in a straight line, and stiffer, when cornering hard.
True to Mercedes-Benz tradition, the car stays flat during high speed run only slightly upset by excessive undulations of the road. 120Kmph feels like 60kmph in this car. Cornering is flat, but again it will roll slightly at the extremes.
The car doesn't scrap its underbelly on any kind of surface. That is a good thing. Steering is accurate and weighs nicely at high speeds. It doesn't offer a ton of feedback, but it's not dull either.
Mercedes-Benz has refreshed the looks to appeal to the younger buyer, but it has not forgotten its traditional customer. This car offers a perfect compromise to appeal to both types of buyers.
At an ex-showroom price of ₹ 41.5 lakhs, it a fairly decent deal and comes loaded with all the features you will ever need.