• Steel springs give consistent body control but it’s still...
    Steel springs give consistent body control but it’s still too big to be fun in bends.
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2017 Mercedes-Benz E 220d review, road test

11th Jul 2017 7:00 am

Far more affordable diesel E-class debuts Mercedes’ new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine in India.

  • Make : Mercedes-Benz
  • Model : E-Class

The new, long-wheelbase ‘V213’ E-class has been a huge success and it impressed us a great deal when we reviewed it in the E 350d guise, but really, this is the one we’ve been waiting for – the E 220d. Why? For one, at Rs 57.7 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s a whole lot more affordable than the E 350d, and two, because it debuts Mercedes’ new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine in India. This motor will slowly replace the 2.1-litre, four-cylinder diesel motor that is used by most Merc models – anything with a 200d, 220d or 250d badge – in India, and so it will account for the majority of sales. So there is a lot riding on it, then.

 Not much has changed on the outside, save for the new badge and a set of smart, five-spoke alloy wheels. On the inside too, it’s almost exactly the same. There’s a lighter shade of woodgrain on the dash and the Artico faux-leather upholstery has a different design, but that’s it. Sure, you miss a few bits of equipment – like adjustable dampers, the Burmester hi-fi system, memory settings for the front seats and 360-degree parking cameras – but these aren’t essential items.

You still get loads of equipment like automatic, adaptive LED headlamps, push-button start, five driving modes, three-zone auto climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the huge panoramic sunroof and electric sunblinds. Really, buyers won’t feel shortchanged by this lesser variant. In fact, it almost makes you question why the E 350d is so much more expensive!

The heart of the matter is clearly the engine. It’s a new modular unit (codename: OM654) with a displacement of 1,950cc across four cylinders and an all-aluminium construction. That means it weighs just 168kg – a full 35.4kg lighter than the outgoing 2.1-litre (OM651) motor, which Mercedes says, helps give it a 13 percent improvement in fuel economy. Other weight-saving measures include plastic engine mounts and a shift from a two-stage to a single-stage turbo. It’s paired to the venerable 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox. The power output is 194hp (that equates to almost 100hp per litre), which is a fair bit more than the previous 220d engine’s 170hp, and the torque, at 400Nm, is exactly the same, albeit made 200rpm later at 1,600rpm.

Refinement is impressive. The old 2.1-litre engine was notorious ◊ ∆ for its clattery noise, whereas here there’s very little noise at low revs. When it does get audible at around 2,500rpm, it’s nowhere near as rough-sounding as before. The gearbox is, as ever, superb, using all of its nine ratios to great effect, so that you’re always in the meat of the powerband. Turbo lag feels all but non-existent, and there’s also very little of that gearbox lag you might feel on kickdown in other cars, as the 9G-Tronic will always have the right gear ready for you. It also does this smoothly and silently, with only a slight ‘kick’ felt, understandably, in Sport+ mode.

Some will remember that the outgoing four-cylinder diesel E-class was a higher-spec ‘250d’, while this one has been launched as a ‘220d’, and so yes, it makes 10hp and 100Nm less than the car it replaces. Enthusiasts will also, no doubt, miss that strong hit of power that you got with the old car, as this one – helped by the gearbox – feels a lot smoother and more linear across its rev band. Still, given the size of this car, its 0-100kph time of 8.81sec is not too shabby, and just about 1.8sec slower than the 350d. It does compare far more favourably in kickdown acceleration, however, taking 4.98sec and 6.52sec, respectively, from 20-80kph and 40-100kph. Drive modes, of course, make a difference, and, as with most luxury cars, we’d leave the Eco mode only for your chauffeur. Comfort is good for the city but can still feel a bit sluggish, so Sport might suit some drivers better. Sport+ is only for enthusiastic driving, more so because it keeps the engine on the boil, which feels a bit too high-strung for everyday use.

At 11.8kpl in the city and 15.2kpl on the highway, the E 220d is a considerable improvement over 
the six-cylinder E 350d’s 8.49kpl and 13kpl. The urban figure is particularly good, and you can put some of that down to this car’s 110kg lighter kerb weight.

While the E 350d has air suspension all round, this one uses steel springs, so you lose out on adjustable damping and the lift function that raises the car. The good news is that Mercedes has got the setup just right this time around. It’s a bit more supple than the older E-class and yet manages to maintain good body control over a rough patch of road. On the flip side, yes, you do lose out on that ultra-soft plushness of the air suspension, but then you get almost none of that floatiness you get over bumps and at high speed as you do in the V6 car. That said, the rear has been set up softer than the front, so you will feel a bit more bounce if you’re sat in the back and the car does feel a touch jittery on corrugated surfaces. Overall, it’s a great compromise between stability and comfort.

There’s less body roll than in the air-suspension-equipped car, although it hasn’t been eliminated entirely. The steering is very light at low speeds, as it should be, and if you want more heft out of it,  simply dial the car up into Sport or Sport+, where it weighs up very well. It’s very quick and accurate too, helping you place the E-class quite easily. But what really stops this from being a fun car to drive is just the sheer size of it, which is constantly apparent.

Almost everything we loved in the E 350d at a much better price; it actually feels like good value now. The E 220d doesn't just fill the vast gap between the E 200 petrol and the E 350d. It's priced so well, it really makes you question whether you need to stump up the Rs 12 lakh extra for the V6 diesel. In fact, it is even cheaper than some standard-wheelbase rivals! You lose some equipment, but not enough to spoil the luxury experience as most of the essentials are there. Yes, that Maharaja-worthy air-suspended ride is gone, but the steel-sprung setup is rather impressive as well. And finally, the new engine is far more refined than the old one and, crucially, performance doesn't feel inadequate, despite the badge reading '220d' and not '250d'. However, we did miss the punchy mid-range of the older car. Though there has been a shift toward petrol lately, diesel is still the more popular choice in this sort of car, and we have no doubt that the E 220d is on its way to becoming the mainstay of the E-class range. 

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 57.70 lakh
Warranty 2 years/unlimited run
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Fuel Type / Propulsion Diesel
Engine Installation Front, longitudinal
Type 4 cyls, 1950cc
Bore/Stroke (mm) 82/92.3mm
Compression Ratio 15.5:1
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 194hp at 3800rpm
Max Torque (Nm @ rpm) 400Nm at 1600-2800rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 107.1 hp per tonne
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 220.9Nm per tonne
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Drive Layout Rear-wheel drive
Gearbox Type Automatic
No of Gears 9
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
80 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 23.85m; 2.06s
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
City (kpl) 11.8kpl
Highway (kpl) 15.2kpl
Tank size (lts) 66 litres
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
0 - 20 kph (sec) 1.17s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.23s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 3.88s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 6.04s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 8.81s
0 - 120 kph (sec) 12.06s
0 - 140 kph (sec) 16.58s
20-80kph (in third gear) (sec) 4.98s
40-100kph (in fourth gear) (sec) 6.52s
MAX SPEED IN GEAR Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
1st (kph @rpm) 41kph at 4700rpm
2nd (kph @rpm) 67kph at 4700rpm
3rd (kph @rpm) 96kph at 4700rpm
4th (kph @rpm) 130kph at 4700rpm
5th (kph @rpm) 177kph at 4700rpm
6th (kph @rpm) 210kph at 4600rpm
7th (kph @rpm) 240kph at 4600rpm
8th (kph @rpm) 240kph at 3800rpm
9th (kph @rpm) 225kph at 3000rpm
NOISE LEVEL Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Idle (dB) 42.3dB
Idle with AC blower at half (dB) 51.6dB
Full Revs, AC off (dB) 63.5dB
50 kph in 4th gear AC off (dB) 62.4dB
80 kph in top gear AC off (dB) 67.3dB
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Construction Four-door sedan, monocoque
Weight (kg) 1810kg
Front Tyre 225/55 R17
Rear Tyre 225/55 R17
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Four-link, coil springs, gas shock absorbers
Rear Five-link, coil springs, gas shock absorbers
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Discs
Rear Discs
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Length 5063mm
Width (mm) 1860mm
Height 1494mm
Wheel base 3079mm
Boot Capacity (Lts) 540 litres
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