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Old 21st August 2009, 13:15   #1
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Default Scoop: W212 first drive

(disclaimer: Request the members not to indirectly ask or mention the name and location of the dealer and the person where the car was driven and kindly do not ask me about any details like pricing, features etc., as it may cause a bit of trouble.Of course, no pics. due to security reasons.Pics taken from the net.)

New W212 E 350 CGI Blue Efficiency pre production model

Colour: Indium Grey with black/alpaca grey upholstery

Trim level: Avantgarde powered by new 3.5 L V6 CGI (Compressed gasoline Injection) Direct fuel injection petrol engine producing 292 ps@ 6400 rpm and torque of 36.5 kg-m@3000 rpm)

Transmission:
7G tronic 7-speed automatic with steering mounted paddle shifters

What works:
  • cozy and comfortable interiors
  • outstanding rear seat comfort
  • improved build, fit and finish as compared to W211, body imparts a solid feel
  • solid and composed feel on the road
  • isolated cabin
  • amazing pick-up
  • smooth transmission shifts
  • better steering feedback
  • best in class ride
  • array of safety gadgets and gizmos
What needs work:
  • W124 inspired styling may not to be everyone's taste
  • squarish dashboard may look like 80s
  • steering, though improved still falls short of 5 series on feedback
  • Mercedes may skimp on equipment for India
First impressions:
  • The New E class is so good and improved over its predecessor, other than less than stellar steering feedback, its improved comfort, NVH levels, ride and overall quality with improved head and legroom questions the need to buy the S class.
The New E class is as critical to Mercedes Benz's success in India as it is in rest of the world. Worldwide, it s the company's best seller and the new model has taken a flying start, with more than 48,000 units sold worldwide in markets like Europe, US, UK and Australia where it has been launched.

However in India, since its launch in 2003, the car is selling consistently well until the arrival of cross town rivals like the 5 and the A6 which have been giving the E a tough fight. In fact, since the past one year, the 5 series has consistently outsold the E class in India, resorting to brutal discounts to clear the existing stock.

So, what next but to wait for the right time to launch an all new redesigned model codenamed W212 in India? The timing couldn't come sooner as Mercedes expects to regain the lost momentum, just like it gained with the new C class in January 2008.

Training is currently on in Pune for the new car and the new E class is expected in October 2009, initially in top-of range E350 V6 version only.

Trim levels are not finalized but expect the company to launch both the elegance and avantgarde levels at two different price points.

Worldwide, there is option for individual rear seats (for 2 persons) and we expect Merc to offer this in India, at least in the avantgarde trim level.

A wide range of exterior and interior colour combinations are also expected to give competition to the 530i and A6 3.0 TFSi.

The Body:

So, how does it look?

Mercedes Benz's new design language ditches curves in favor of squares and straight lines and the effect is actually striking in flesh, where the car looks masculine compared to its predecessor and far better than the boring A6. Lots of styling touches are inspired by the old W124 and aims at bringing back the good old days when Mercedes was known for making solid high quality products.

The front carries its quad headlight theme but has more rectangular elements and a 4-louver grill painted in chrome.

The bumper gets LED daytime running lights, an inspiration from Audi. (Elegance models will have twin convectional fog lamps on the bumper).

The side looks substantial, more like a overgrown C class with some design elements from the CL. The 2 character lines, one running the entire length and other running over the rear wheel arch give it tons of character, even though the styling looks forced and excessive, a bit too Korean. But if people have accepted the C class's looks, this design will be surely accepted here.

The rear, again, looks square, obvious clues from W124 like the boot lid and rectangular LED taillights playing their part here. It looks good, but again, very retro.

The insides:

Like the exteriors, the interiors too flow the rectangular theme. The avantgarde model uses COMAND control to control the cars parameters, and the gear lever is placed near the steering wheel to free up space on the console.

At least 3-4 colour combinations are expected to be available in dual tones.

The space, both at front and rear, is simply outstanding with lefroom rivaling the short wheelbase S class(not sold in India) as a result of increased wheelbase. A 5 series, in comparison feels cramped and claustrophobic at the rear. The A6 again feels too low and comparably less spacious as compared to the new E.

The individual rear seats, as was there in the prototype, is simply cosy and the closest that you can get to a sofa, obviously targeted at chauffeur driven business people. The multi contoured heated seats pampers you like nothing else in this class and you feel relaxed even after long journeys.

The car is expected to be high on equipment, even though Merc is notorious for downsizing equipment for Indian market but expect the multimedia package, agility control package, heated seats. AIRMATIC DC suspension and full powered driver and passenger seats to be standard, at least on avantgarde.

The heart of the matter:

The prototype sampled is powered by Mercedes Benz's new naturally aspirated Direct petrol injection motor displacing 3498 cc with a power of 292 ps and about 36.5 kg-torque@3000 rpm, 80 percent of which is available at a low 1500 rpm.

This engine is obviously Euro 5 compliant and Euro 6 ready, whenever required. Direct injection technology means that fuel is directly sprayed on to the cylinder and combusted at a very high pressure, resulting in more power while at the same time, improving the fuel consumption by 15% and lowering the emissions by 30%.

The drive:

Start the engine (push button with key less-go) and the engine sounds with that characteristic German burble, very smooth and muscular.

Acceleration from 0-100 is dispatched in a claimed 6.3 seconds and the car wafts you to ludicrous speeds in a sonorously smooth and refined manner. The A6 3.0's supercharged V6 belting 290 bhp is comparatively faster by 0.4 seconds but it sounds like a muscle car.

The car feels effortless to pilot and the way it accelerates in mid range can be terrifying. 100-180 kmph can come in no sooner then you think and the car goes all the way to its electronically limited top speed of 250 kmph.

Bu the USP of the car is its refinement, easily better then the 5 or the A6 and the engine noise is all but absent even at speeds of 180-190. Its only above 210 that it makes some presence felt. Mercedes's efforts in isolating the cabin have paid off and even in the worst of Indian conditions, expect the car to maintain its calm and composure without transmitting too much of road noise to the cabin.

Ride and Handling:

Obviously, Mercedes never wanted to play second fiddle to BMW 5 series this time and the engineers have worked hard to improve the steering feel and it shows. The car came equipped with advanced agility control package which lowers the springs by 15 mm and the dampers are stiffer by 5-7 % with a quicker steering ratio. The car handles dramatically better on the twisties and even though it still does fall short in overall feel by the 5 series, the feedback is better, partly due to improved weight distribution. At low speeds, the steering feels well weighted, not too light or heavy and the car feels easy on parking with one hand. At high speeds, the car feels rock solid stable with none of the artificiality that plagues the A6 FWD.

Overall the driving experience is more satisfying than the A6 but could do better to match the level of driver involvement that the 5 series comes with.

Actually, for India, Mercedes will do further fine tuning with a more comfort biased setup rather than for out and out handling biased to make sure that ride quality does not suffer, which felt amazing as always what you expect from the Mercedes in the prototype.

The car specified came with AIRMATIC DC adjustable air suspension (from the S class) which keeps the car leveled by regulating the irregular surfaces on the road transmitted by sensors attached to the suspension and keeping the occupants secure. The car simply smothered the worst of potholes and even riding on 17" wheels with stiffer settings, the ride never suffered. Expect this to improve even further when the final product is launched.

Braking again, is aided by an array of gizmos like ASR, ABS with EBD etc which helps in outstanding braking performance. Flashing LED brake lights in case of an emergency is standard.

The SBC (Sensotronic Brake Control) has been ditched in this car as it plagued the car with software reliability issues.

Buying and Owning:

The final price is not yet out but the car is expected to be considerably more expensive considering the engine spec and the variants offered.

Besides, Mercedes is known for charging a premium while skimping on small essentials, something we hope is not repeated this time.

Service and maintenance costs, again, are on the higher side but resale values are expected to remain strong and with a vast dealer network, expect top notch levels of service, even though it is too early to comment until proper feedback is received from the owners.

Verdict:

The new E class is drastically improved over its predecessor. It builds upon its current car's strength of comfort and coziness and improves in its core weaknesses like overall quality, fit and finish and driving experience while keeping its occupants in comfort with minimal NVH levels.

The 5 series may be more rewarding to drive and the new A6 may be more for those who want a different alternative but the new E is a genuine all rounder. The XF is very expensive and only comes with a V8 engine, so it will remain exclusive.

Besides, the new E class is targeted at chauffeur driven business people who always wanted their car to be-a compact S class.
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by sidindica : 21st August 2009 at 13:26.
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Old 21st August 2009, 13:31   #2
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some more interior and tech pics.
Attached Thumbnails
Scoop: W212 first drive-mercedesbenzeclass_2010_1024x768_wallpaper_8b.jpg  

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Old 21st August 2009, 15:26   #3
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Have you actually driven the car on twisties to deliver you verdict on handling? To me all this reads like a sweet talk.... although good literary... hardly any substance to it. You couldnt possibly have tested the 100-180 kmph passing times or on the limit handling while driving this in Delhi.
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Old 21st August 2009, 15:31   #4
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The drive was for about 2 hours, covering Delhi, aravalli hills on route to gurgaon, also expressway at G. Noida. All because of Luck.
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Old 21st August 2009, 15:47   #5
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@Sid I heard from the Mercedes showroom that they will be only launching the E350 petrol version in October and the diesel version will also be an E350 but it will be launched in January is this true?
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Old 21st August 2009, 15:56   #6
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That was quick. Nice scoop as always sidindica !

MB has made the E stronger in it's strongest areas- Comfort!
The addition of airmatic suspension and increase leg room itself will make it regain it's position at the top. The previous E was very cramped, even the 5 is more spacious. Although I am not a big fan of it's styling interior or exterior but it could appeal to the older generation who would be it's largest buyers.
It's initial hype and launch of cheaper engines will certainly put the E back on top of it's sales charts buttttt only till the new 5 series is released. The E was always more classic in styling and even more now, likewise the 5 was always been more futuristic and if spy pics and the new 7 are anything to go by the futuristic appeal goes to another level !

Last edited by Sahil : 21st August 2009 at 15:58.
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Old 21st August 2009, 16:15   #7
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The E 350 petrol will be out in first week of october whereas the E 350 CDI will be launched at the auto expo.

Further engine options will be there by mid 2010.

And yes, still I cannot believe myself that I have driven the car so quick, even though it was very, very late at night.
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Old 21st August 2009, 16:22   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
The drive was for about 2 hours, covering Delhi, aravalli hills on route to gurgaon, also expressway at G. Noida. All because of Luck.
my bad then... was it a press drive of some sort? or your links?
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Old 21st August 2009, 23:05   #9
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Sidindica; lucky guy to drive it so early. Feel envy on you, anyway congrats.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 12:51   #10
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To me the rear looks very bland. Interiors look great though. Its nice to see BMW and Merc battling out for the prime spot.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 13:35   #11
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Is it just me or does the new merc look somewhat like the accord from the sides. (look at the 2nd pic)

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Old 22nd August 2009, 16:50   #12
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I guess the car was there for the test-drive for AUTO BILD magazine! I jsut got the latest issue of Auto Bild in which they have a test report of new E-class
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Old 22nd August 2009, 17:50   #13
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A 50 lac 4 seater Honda rear styled Merc.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 22:54   #14
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a merc rules for sure. ain't nothing like the pointed star. the w212 is getting merc back to the solid "built from a block of iron" look.
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