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’s it like on the inside?
Big... And very spacious to begin with. You get acres of legroom in the back, more than you'll ever need, and, because the 'Exclusive' trim has white artico leather and white carpets, the rear feels extremely airy as well. Seating comfort is excellent with the rear seat back upping comfort levels massively. It's so well-designed that it seems to perfectly match the profile of your back. What’s more is that the backrests on the rear seats are electrically reclinable. Set fully back, they are at the perfect angle for a quick power nap, and what's nice is that Merc has given the new E the same soft pillow-like headrest as the S-class; they're so soft they feel like they are made of fluffy feathers. From the left rear seat you can also control the front passenger seat and move the base and backrest to make room for you.
A nice touch is that each door has controls for both rear windows and blinds. And the new E gets a large panoramic sunroof. The rear can seat three but as you have the massive central tunnel to contend with, and the narrow centre seat, it’s best to flip the armrest down and use the car like a four seater. Rear passengers also get illuminated vanity mirrors integrated into the roof and a three-zone climate control system with four vents at the rear and six on the dashboard. The interiors also have a 64-colour ambient lighting system with separate controls for the front and rear zones. There are, however, no cup holders at the rear (apart from the bottle holders in the door pads), there's no way to adjust the audio system from the rear seat and, unlike the S-class, you don't get the soft close function for the doors.
There are a few disappointments up front too. The E-class in other markets, for example, comes with a fully-digital instrument panel as against the traditional twin dials on Indian cars. And while the COMAND system gets a huge 12.3-inch media display – and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – touchscreen functionality hasn't been built in here, so it's a bit pointless. The top of the jog dial, however, is sensitive to touch and Merc has even given the E two tiny touch pads mounted on the steering wheel. These are quite easy to use once you discover that the left unit controls the central screen while the one on the right is for the display between the dials. Other equipment includes a 13-speaker, 590W Burmester surround sound system and 360-degree camera, which, given the size of the car, we found really handy navigating the tight roads in Goa.
Equipment apart, the dipping and arching dash of the new E really does set the tone beautifully. The chromed-over vents look stunning, the leather-covered dash looks great, the clockwork-like dials have a nice 3D vibe going and the S-class like mood lighting really does give the cabin a lift. And then there are the big chairs up front that are very sporty and different from Mercs of the recent past. They are tall, the bolstering is very generous and the open-pore art leather is supple and extremely comfy seats.