Driven: 2017 Mercedes E-Class
The Mercedes E-Class has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 56.15 - 69.47 lakhs (ex-Mumbai).
What you'll like:
• A gamechanger in the Rs. 50-70 lakh segment. Unreal opulence
• Spacious, luxurious cabin. Limousine-like rear seat experience is sublime
• Creamy 6-cylinder diesel (620 Nm of torque!) mated to a fantastic 9-speed AT
• Comfortable ride quality & solid on-road behaviour
• Top notch equipment includes an air suspension, auto-parking, reclining rear seat…
• 5-star safety tech, rating & kit – a Mercedes trademark
What you won't:
• Uninvolving to drive; a cruiser, not a corner carver
• Ridiculous price gap between the E200 & E350 (almost Rs. 18 lakhs on the road)
• No wheel well in the boot. Spare tyre greatly compromises luggage space
• XL wheelbase means it will scrape over large speedbreakers
• 4-cylinder petrol is weak for a car of this class. E200 is for backseat owners only
• Integrity of the trim material, although well-finished (plastic chrome, fake leather, no felt lining in door pockets)
This review has been jointly compiled with Vid6639. Thanks to him for the expert observations & photography!
The E-Class has been the staple of the Mercedes Benz product range since the early 1950’s. Apart from the limousine (S-Class and 600) and the SL range, it was the only Mercedes that mere mortals could afford. You could specify it from a bare bones diesel taxi version to a fully loaded 6-cylinder Autobahn stormer. It is a car that transcended all classes of people - from the hard working industrial worker to the wealthy Mittelstand businessman. The E-Class accounted for an estimated 70% of Mercedes' revenue. The past 30 years though have seen the E-Class’ dominance reduce within the Mercedes product range in terms of market share; the E-Class contribution has dropped by around 20%. This is partially due to an extension of the product range to the A-Class, the B-Class, the C-Class and, of course, the many new SUVs. The C-Class now runs head to head with the E-Class in terms of sales volume. The GLE-Class has also taken away some sales, especially in the USA.
Taking India into context, the E-Class needs no introduction to us. The W114 was the default choice of film stars and industrialists as the S-Class was very hard to attain. The W123 followed on and were immensely popular as a major homecoming item from the Gulf. The W124 first trickled in as imports and then became the first Mercedes to be made in India in 1997. We all know the story about us poor Indians getting an obsolete model when the W210 was already launched abroad. Let’s cut to the chase. Since, Mercedes have atoned and always ensured that we got the current model within six months of the global launch. Mercedes claim that they have produced over 34,000 E-Class in India. So, why have we had to wait for nearly a year for the latest E-Class? Ideally, we should have received the new E-Class around Diwali!
This time around, things have changed; instead of a mere assembly of a regular model, Mercedes decided that we get something tailored for the Indian market. Instead of the W213, we get the V213 (V stands for Verlängert – Extended in German). This is the slightly stretched version of the Mercedes E200 L engineered and made for the Chinese market. This is the first time that the long wheelbase variant is being offered only to India as a right hand drive in the E200 and the E350d. So, is this a cheap Chinese Mercedes as perceived by some in other parts of the forum? The answer is, not really. The senior management explained that the logistics surrounding this car are rather complex. Normally, Mercedes gets its body part kits from Germany/USA/Hungary which are then assembled. In the case of the new E-Class, the rear floor pan, the rear doors, the rear panels and the roof come in from Beijing. The remaining components are imported from Germany and are married to an engine assembled in India. In other words, this ain’t no screwdriver operation. This makes a great opportunity to aggressively price the car or offer great value or merely cream more profit!
Mercedes have added an extra 140 mm of length to the wheelbase, making it 3,079 mm (compared to the normal W213's 2,939 mm). The overall length is now 5.30 meters! Compared to the outgoing W212, the wheelbase is 205 mm longer. Rear seat legroom has been generously enhanced by 134 mm and is now at 320 mm.
Pun intended, why did Mercedes go the extra length? Recently, the C-Class has become Mercedes India’s largest seller. It also offers pretty good interior space, a long cry from the earlier generations. Mercedes is giving a tough fight to its rivals overall, but the outgoing E-Class has been facing steep discounting by its competition as well as cannibalization from the C-Class and the GLE-Class. This gives an opportunity to re-position the new E-Class in an aim to differentiate. Mercedes spoke to a wide range of existing E-Class customers and found that almost 80% were chauffeur-driven. However, they do enjoy driving the car on weekends and holidays. Some other points are that BMW and Audi seem to sell based on either the youth factor or heavy discounts. There is nothing different out there. The logical upgrade for the typical E/5/XF/A6 owner is the S/7/XJ/A8. However, many balk at the price and the bulk!
Another opportunity is the 15,000 or so Skoda Superb and Camry owners who have nowhere to go for more legroom in their next upgrade. The latest Camry and Superb are a bit bland; one segment higher and you trade space for prestige and not much else.
The car has been priced a little more than its competitors in order to distance itself as a different value proposition. So does this affect the S-Class? Mercedes anticipates some minor impact, but overall, most S-Class potentials will buy an S-Class only. We will be getting the E 350 d as tested here. This comes with the V6 2,987cc engine, developing power & torque figures of 258 BHP (@ 3,400 rpm) and 620 Nm torque (1600 rpm - 2400 rpm). There is also the E 200 which comes with the inline-4 1,991 cc engine that develops power & torque figures of 184 BHP (@ 5,500 rpm) and 300 Nm (1,200 rpm and 1,400 rpm) respectively. We also got indications that a 4-cylinder diesel will follow soon. This will depend on the clarity of the future pollution norms as also the BS-VI fuel policy since it is a new 2.0L engine.
We only drove the E 350 diesel. From earlier experiences with the small petrol powering the E 200, we can tell you that it'll suit the purpose of a chauffeur-driven car only, and won't offer the performance you'd expect from this class of car. It'll lose out on the Airmatic Air Suspension, plus some other goodies. Trim wise, it will come with 5 spoke alloy wheels and a lighter wood veneer trim inside. You can see glimpses of the E 200 here.
Classy LED Headlights:
The same DRL-style is retained:
The sheer length either impresses or intimidates you. Some might feel that it is too long:
View of the rear door and rear quarter light – This is where the extra length has gone in. Notice the squarer rear door & the rear three quarter window:
This is the key way to distinguish the E-Class from the C-Class and the S-Class:
Despite catering to the more obvious plutocrats, it retains the sportier front end. Only the S-Class has the star on the bonnet now!
Rear View - looks like the C that looks like the S:
This reflector is an easy way to distinguish an E-Class from a C-Class. The S-Class has a band of LEDs below the rear bumper (for reversing lights):
The rear LED crystal effect is a class act:
You get a full length panoramic roof that slides up and over. Not very elegant, but it saves headroom and cost!
Thank goodness Mercedes has sensibly avoided the new fad of oversized wheels & not gone for 18 inchers. The wheels for the E 350 d are 10-spoke 17 inchers shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 225/55 runflat tyres. The E 200 will come with 5 spoke wheels. Car looks nice and squat when the suspension is lowered by 15 mm in Sport+ mode:
The suspension in the default setting for Comfort Mode:
If the car is driven between 100-130 km/h for 3 min or more than 130 km/h, the suspension moves to this setting which is the default for Sport and Eco mode:
Plenty of aerodynamic underbody cladding:
These mirrors house cameras which are useful for parking, especially near gutters:
Interior - Front
From a well-built, durable & slightly spartan dashboard of yore, the new E-Class is different. Gone is the minimalist nature. Cars with beige interiors get brown leather on the top surfaces, along with a brown steering wheel, a slab of black ash tree wood veneer, while the lower dashboard panel is beige. Add to this, the lashings of shiny black plastic and in theory, it might seem overdone and blingy, but it somehow comes together:
The silver cars get an all-black interior:
Talking about quality, the interior is well finished & feels top class. Look closely though and you realize how costs have been saved. The discrete chrome finishing on the dash as also the non-contact surfaces of the vents are made of plastic; well made though!
Apart from that, actual switch gear is well crafted. Some knobs are knurled and they all work well. My last review was of the Volvo S90 and this has spoilt it for me. That car has actual crafted strips of metal and very plush seat material at a competitive price:
The seats made from ARTICO leather are a vegan’s delight and easier to maintain. Also note that a high proportion of potential buyers are probably from communities averse to using leather products. The front seats are broad and extremely comfortable. They come with 16-way movement and 3 memory settings. It is quite easy to set your positions. The light coloured seats and carpets will be a challenge to keep clean. At least the floor area should have been black:
Logically laid-out seat controls. Driver can adjust the passenger seat from his side (via the button on top):
The driving position is spot on. The slightly offset position found in a right hand drive Mercedes seems to have been corrected:
Fortunately, Mercedes have desisted from gluing an iPad on the dashboard and have integrated the 12” COMAND screen into the dashboard. It has a prominent visor lip on the top to prevent reflections. Note the huge speaker grill which houses all the front speakers:
The steering is nice to hold & effortless to use:
It features for the first time, touch pads instead of buttons! COMAND on the left spoke:
The right spoke changes the information menus between the instruments. Slide up & down on the touch pad to move between songs:
The left side of the wheel is awfully busy with 3 stalks – the indicator/wiper/headlight stalk, one for the cruise control and then, the steering column adjuster. Quite an eyesore, this:
The right side is cleaner - just a simple gear selector. Move up & down for R / D; push the silver button in to engage park mode:
Attention to detail, you ask? The engine start button glows on sensing the smartkey :):
The instruments are conventional and not the virtual ones offered in some versions abroad. The main reason was to keep this feature only for the S-Class in India. Still, the instruments are clear and legible. We did not feel short-changed in that respect. We do however feel deprived in not getting the head-up display. The cheaper Volvo S90 and main rival - the BMW 530d - get one:
Among the many things you'll see here is album art!
On the right side are the light controls & the parking brake release (which is mounted too low for my liking):
The top layer of the central console houses the dual-zone climate control buttons, while the bottom row has menu buttons for the COMAND:
The bottom section opens out a large compartment for the cup holders, the power outlet, a small ashtray and a small receptacle to keep the key:
It is designed for LHD. All the driver functions are on the left - the knurled knob controlling the Drive modes, buttons to select the Parking function and the Start/Stop. These buttons are difficult to find from the driver's side. The right side buttons control minor functions like the rear sunblinds and audio volume, which means the passenger on the left needs to reach out to the right to change the volume, but can change the drive modes of the car easier than the driver!!
Driver armrest reveals a generous compartment:
Two USB ports are available. One for charging, the other for Android Auto / Apple Car Play:
In its latest iteration, Mercedes uses a 12-inch screen with various menus. Although comprehensive, the COMAND still remains clunky and a distraction when controlling it on the fly. Some key menus on the E-Class are shown below:
Cameras - The E-Class comes with a 360 degree viewing camera. Thanks to cameras mounted on the front grill, below both ORVMs and at the rear, a collage of all the camera views is available:
The kerb camera view (which is from the cameras mounted below the ORVM) is the coolest, because you can see the front wheels as well as the kerb. Much needed when parking this limo-sized sedan:
Front camera right above the Mercedes logo on the grill:
The different Driving Modes:
Suspension & Ride Height:
Engine Power Gauges (real-time):
Navigation – This is well displayed, but it is not at all easy to set up for one's destination:
Mercedes have for the first time introduced Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Most of us found it easier to use Google maps via Android Auto for navigation:
Google maps on Android Auto. 9 hours to home :D. We were tempted, but my Jetta transported us faithfully, so we resisted:
However, the utility of these apps is limited since there is no touchscreen:
The E350 has a 13-Speaker 590 watt Burmester system:
As you would expect, sound quality is tight & enjoyable. The sound focus can either be on all passengers or only at the rear. Alas, rear passengers have no access to any of the controls. Pairing your phone is pretty easy, but the lack of a touchscreen makes music selection fiddly and distracting on the move. Must note that the system's clarity was much better when our phone was connected via a wire in Apple Car Play:
Interior - Rear
This is the section that most owners will be interested in. Allow me to summarise - the E-Class blows the 5-Series, A6 etc. out of the water. There is no comparison in the area of rear seat space & comfort.
Open the door and you literally walk into the car. Unfortunately, you need to have the muscles of a Sumo wrestler to shut the doors with a firm slam. The soft closing facility is only available for the S-Class, but it is sorely needed for the E-Class too.
The rear of the E-Class is the unique feature of this segment. It literally out-superb’s the Superb. All that extra 134 mm has gone into the rear and how!
The squab of the rear seat makes it clear, two is company and three is a crowd. I dare say there is more room sitting on someone's lap than sitting in the middle! The main two seats by contrast are heaven. The backrests can be adjusted over an angle of 37 degrees electrically. These are electrically adjustable for the backrest + headrest and come with memory for 3 positions. The seat base cannot be adjusted, but the switch can be used on the passenger side to control the front passenger's seat for even more legroom:
The passenger also has controls for the rear and side window sunshades as well as the panoramic roof shades:
Even the side window shades are electrically operated:
The headrests can be electrically adjusted for height and have a feather-filled Alcantara cushion:
The rear ambience is unparalleled. Apart from the space, you get plenty of ambient light from the panoramic sunroof...
... and the extra rear quarter windows:
The vestigial middle seat is best forgotten and buried under the substantial armrest:
Complete with storage and a USB port. However, there are no controls for the entertainment system. You need to ensure that your chauffeur shares your music taste. A good interim solution would have been to at least allow Apple Car Play/Android Auto to be operated from the rear seat!
Storage is ample with seat pockets & rear door pockets:
If you wish to powder your nose:
The rear is cooled by a single-zone A/C (dual in the S-Class). The cooling was effective, unlike some previous Mercedes. The enormous cabin didn't take long to get cooled even after being parked in the sun:
You have additional ventilation from the pillar vents...
...and also from under the seats:
Most reviews focus on driving and a little about the rear. Having seen what the rear had to offer, I needed to spend quality time here. That's 6 ft me, swinging my legs around the back. The experience on the backseat was sublime. After a 40 km drive in thick Goan traffic, I handed the car over to another journalist and sat in the rear. His style of driving consisted of rapid acceleration, tailgating and late braking. Normally, I don't sleep very well in a car in such circumstances. Any jerk, sudden acceleration or any sudden change in tempo wakes me up. And so, I nestled in, adjusted the seat, my head touched the soft pillow...and I was fast asleep within minutes. The photographer who was with me in the back fell asleep as well. I felt totally insulated from the driving and only woke up an hour later - much refreshed - for our lunch halt. It was that good:
Boot space is generous, until...
...you realise there's no spare wheel well. In a car as well-engineered, we're disappointed that such a critical requirement was missed out. Even anti-spare-wheel BMW has had to eat their own words on the subject:
What lies underneath:
Driving the 3.0L Diesel
We only got the E350d to drive. As mentioned earlier, if you desire performance and / or are looking to drive yourself, this is the engine of choice. The E200's small petrol is too weak for such a big barge.
The V6 diesel takes up much of the engine bay. It makes 254 BHP @ 3,400 rpm and an enormous 620 Nm of torque @ 1,600 - 2,400 rpm. Raise the hydraulically-assisted bonnet and you will note the aluminum structural sections:
Start the engine from cold and it begins with a gravelly note, audible both within and outside the car. We were initially disappointed with the refinement, but after about 15 km, the engine became smoother after getting warmed up. The note became a nice & smooth thrum. You won't even know it's a diesel at regular commuting rpms.
Power delivery is very linear and progressive. The engine suffers no lag and all of that 620 Nm of torque feeds in smoothly without any 530d-like drama. Depress the throttle and the E350d surges forward without hesitation. She picks up speed fast, yet deliberately keeps the cabin calm. The motor lacks the top-end thrust of the BMW 530d though.
Both engines are mated to the 9 speed G-TRONIC transmission. The pairing with this engine has been the most successful that we have seen for this gearbox so far. Unlike other Mercedes, the gearbox upshifts and downshifts with a lot more urgency and precision. In Sport+ mode, we even felt it was comparable to the BMW 530d.
Via COMAND, one can select 4 driving modes - Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. These vary the engine, suspension, transmission and steering parameters. You also have the option of the 'Individual' mode where you can tailor each parameter more specifically.
Eco - You know you are in Eco when the idle speed drops to 700 rpm. Press the accelerator and nothing happens until you really step on it. The car becomes like a teenager woken up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Gear changes are early. Believe me, we hardly used this mode.
Comfort - The E-Class was a lot more responsive and you can waft around smoothly. Gear changes were smooth. This mode is perfect for the city. Ride quality is soft & only the odd sharp bump comes into the cabin. On the highway though, the car wallows and feels a bit floaty over undulations. Ride height is raised by 15 mm, although the car will lower itself if it detects constant speeds of 125 km/h (for more than 3 mins). In the city, use Comfort; on the highway, engage Sport.
Sport - This was our preferred mode. The steering and suspension firm up and the whole car tightens up. However, the downshifts (especially to 2nd) at low speeds are a little bit aggressive and jerky, hence we switched to comfort in town.
Sport+ - As for Sport, but more aggression. The gearshifts are aggressive. Fellow Mod Vid6639 claimed it was almost as good as the ZF box in the BMW 530d.
The E-Class belies its bulk. Before driving it, we assumed that this would be a cumbersome beast. Jump into it and the car shrinks. The steering is a level too light, yet it is accurate. She goes where you point it, however, you get very little feedback. It lacks turn-in enthusiasm, it does not beg to be driven hard, but it will do as per your command. The long wheelbase means one needs to exercise caution over “unscientific” speed humps. Raising the suspension is not an instant affair. It takes 10 seconds to raise. Even when raised though, it did scrape over some large speed-breakers in Mumbai, thanks to the XL-size wheelbase.
The E350d has an excellent mid-range pace to overtake on narrow roads. The turning circle was impressive. We were caught in a traffic jam and could make an impressive U-turn within seconds.
We took the E-Class to a road with various successive hairpin bends and tricky twists. On these kind of roads, you are made aware that it is a l-o-n-g car. You need to turn a little late into bends. The E-Class suffers from some slight understeer. Still, she held up well during aggressive turns into the hairpin bends. The Mercedes merely takes any challenging road with ease - there is plenty of grip. Am sure if the Goodyears were replaced with Continentals, we would have more to say.
Our final test was on the highway. The E-Class came into its own. It could reach silly speeds with barely a murmur. The brakes have excellent feel and one can wipe out serious speed within seconds. It displayed an extremely stoic poise during sudden lane changes.
We also tried the Park Assist function. Unlike the VW one where you need to override the gears and also the type of parking, Mercedes have made it much easier. All you need to do is to press the 'Part Assist'. The car will sense a space (whether parallel or manual), then prompt you to select reverse and it steers itself, brakes and also selects forward/reverse automatically. You need not do a thing. Can make a noob look like an expert park-master.
Rumour has it that Mercedes have some outgoing W212 E350s in stock. The front end looks almost identical, no?
Proudly displaying the 'Made in India' credentials:
Pop-out camera at the rear:
Emergency keyhole for the boot too:
Mood lighting with 64 colour choices!
Rear twin exhausts are an illusion :Frustrati:
No AdBlue additives required...for now:
Optional coat hanger:
Disclaimer: Mercedes invited Team-BHP for the E-Class test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.
When the new E-Class was launched internationally, I was wondering how it will do in India. The C-Class wowed everyone, as did the S-Class. However, the new E-Class seemed to offer more or less the same thing as the outgoing car. Even their faces are so similar!
Then, Mercedes India pulled off a masterstroke by bringing the long-wheelbase variant here. That was it. Whoever took that decision is a genius; it's enough to annihilate the competition.
I spent a lot of time with the E350 CDI one weekend in Bombay. The E-Class blows the 5-Series away in terms of space, features (l-e-v-e-l-s above even the 530d), ride quality & rear seat luxury. There is absolutely no contest - it's simply unreal how far ahead Mercedes has taken the game. The styling is wow and the cabin feels like a 7-star hotel suite. The new Mercedes is a game-changer - I predict she's going to outsell the 5-Series & A6 combined (unless the latter two resort to significantly heavier discounting). With this LWB car, Mercedes has also taken attention away from brand Lexus that was just launched here.
Yet, when it comes to driving pleasure, the 530d remains the king. The way that the inline-6 revvs (like a petrol!), the aggressive downshifts allowed by the gearbox (Mercedes is comparatively conservative), the wicked engine sound at high revvs, the feel of the steering and the overall 'maniac' nature - you don't see any of that in the relaxed & comfortable E350. Limousine-like wheelbase doesn't help while attacking corners either.
For a chauffeur-driven owner who will also drive himself sometimes, the E-Class is a no brainer. It's a waaaaay superior family car as well. For a purely self-driven enthusiast, it's the 530d. The E-Class is clean & polished like Aamir Khan; the 530d is more like Salman Khan:
To 9 out of 10 people who ask me, I'll recommend this LWB (long wheelbase) E-Class over the 5-Series & A6. However, to that one crazy petrol-head, it'll be the 530d. She makes you smile behind the wheel in a way that the E-Class cannot.
In summary, the E-Class is a superb all-rounder, feels more special inside and will perform the role of a family luxury car far better than the terribly cramped 5-Series. I'm hearing the next-gen 5 isn't spacious either. In terms of sales & market share, the next-gen 5-Series has lost out even before its launch!!! The 2017 E-Class is 85% of an S-Class at 50% of the money.
In the area of dealer network & after-sales service, Mercedes has an edge over BMW & Audi. Just wish they offered longer warranties (like BMW's 6-year plans). Lastly, I hope Mercedes' reliability has improved.
Re: Driven: 2017 Mercedes E-Class
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!
Re: Driven: 2017 Mercedes E-Class
Wow! review of a Wow! car. Voted five three-pointed stars!
As GTO has mentioned, kudos to the Merc bigwig who suggested the idea of launching it in Verlängert way. Looks like all a SA in a Merc showroom needs to do is, walk to customer next to this car and open the rear door. The E will do the rest of the talking. E-asy job.clap:
The reviewer's observation on ARTICO upholstery also raises several points to ponder about the uniqueness of our country and it's culture too. Chances are, ours may well become the only market in the world where leather upholstery is eschewed or available only as an option even in top-end luxury cars. Another blow the CBU imports.:)
Re: Driven: 2017 Mercedes E-Class
Great review and luckily I got to read the whole thing while there is a fire drill going on.:D
This car is what every luxury car owner dreams of, the only thing I don't buy is the artificial leather, it's made from petroleum and is not biodegradable, hardly environment friendly.
Re: Driven: 2017 Mercedes E-Class
And does it matter much to a typical buyer? OK, so Skoda Superb was a hit which some attribute to rear leg-room. But in a much lower segment, Nissan Sunny failed to grab the imagination of buyers.
Or, are we talking something else here - not comfort - but the image that a 5 metre long 3 pointed star exudes. (Read: S Class)
Re: Driven: 2017 Mercedes E-Class
Is that central clock supposed to be IWC branded? It was seen E-class sold in Germany and USA. Am I missing something?
Assuming it is also a kind of cost cutting:)
If im not wrong, the IWC clocks are exclusive to the AMG line.
The non amg/amg line E classes come with the same mercedes branded central clock
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