The new fifth-generation E-class comes to India with a very sharp focus on luxury and rear seat comfort. Does it pamper enough?
What is it?
The easiest way to score a goal, if you think about it, is to shift the goalpost. And that's exactly what Mercedes has done with the all-new long-wheelbase E-class, a car that it has specially developed for Indian buyers. Adapted to right-hand drive from the China-only LWB E-class, the new V213 has been engineered with a sharp focus on rear seat comfort. Given the fact that there are a high percentage of chauffeur-driven E-class customers in India, Mercedes-Benz has given focus to the long-wheelbase E-class. What Mercedes also found was that, though most of them drive only on the weekend, they still want to enjoy the car from behind the wheel too. And that's where the big 258hp diesel V6 under the hood of this car comes in.
Elsewhere in the range there is a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol as well that makes 184hp, and there's a new-generation 2.0-litre diesel too that will also follow later this year. Known as the OM654, this 1,950cc engine is well below the 2,000cc mark and can thus help evade any potential sub-2.0-litre diesel restriction in India. But this will only come to our market later.
Walk around the car however and it's the extra length that gets you first. It looks regal, classy and sophisticated, all rolled into one. The design of the car follows current Merc trends to a ‘T’. Things like the overall balance, the skinning of the car and the detailing are clearly similar to both the S-class and the C-class. The all-LED headlights are a link to the previous-gen car and the sporty grille up front provides plenty of continuity too. The headlight pods however are recessed and placed below the hood line, and the sporty chin gives the E a youthful appeal.
Follow the lines of the car all the way to the rear and it looks handsome in a big-boned way. The bonnet is long, there is a distinct ridge that runs through the door handles all the way to the rear and what's clear is that the three-meter plus wheelbase and the new rear quarter glass make it look like a baby Maybach. Notice how the base of the 'C' pillar is finished in a band of thick and luscious chrome. Some brand loyalists however will miss the traditional Merc grille up front, especially with the long-wheelbase version looking so regal.
The long-wheelbase version of the E-class, known as the V213, has an incredible 3,079mm between the wheels, making for massive cabin space. And this top-of-the-line 350d gets air suspension all round, with the S-class matching three-chamber design for the struts (others will get steel springs). Ground clearance is 120mm in the lowest setting, but this can be raised by a further 15mm if you use the 'lift' feature. What's nice is that, unlike some of the competition, Merc hasn't gone for outsized wheels. The 17-inch 10-spoke alloys look alright but, importantly, have a healthy profile for our rutted roads.