Merc's star performer in India gets a new look and more features for 2021 and beyond.
2021 Mercedes Benz E Class facelift: what is it?
Mercedes-Benz might have a 15-model-strong portfolio in India, but the E-Class remains at the centre of it all. Since the model's launch in 1995, over 45,000 units have found buyers across the country, and even today, one in three Mercs sold in India is an E-Class.
So, you can sense the urgency at Mercedes to bring the updated E to our market at the very earliest. The latest iteration of the E-Class is here and it's here a good few months before originally planned.
As before, India gets the E-Class in long-wheelbase avatar and there's the option of four-cylinder petrol (E 200) and diesel engines (E 220d), and a six-cylinder diesel (E 350d). This update primarily brings in a new look and added features.
2021 Mercedes Benz E Class facelift: what's it like on the outside?
The E-Class' visual makeover is no mere nip and tuck job. Mercedes has grafted in a new trapezoidal grille, headlights and slimmer tail-lights to align styling with the very latest models, and the visual effect is impressive. The 5m-plus E-Class looks as regal as ever but there's a hint of sportiness too now. There are even subtle power bulges on the bonnet.
Top-spec E 350d versions, like our test car, make an even stronger impression. Offered exclusively in a new AMG Line trim, the E 350d is identifiable by its bolder grille with studded embellishments; sportier bumpers and attractive 18-inch AMG rims.
The E-Class will be available in the usual white, grey and black colours, though an attractive Hyacinth Red is also on offer for a limited period.
2021 Mercedes Benz E Class facelift: what's it like on the inside?
The changes inside are far subtler. Not that there was much need for change to begin with. The high-quality E-Class cabin continues to beautifully blend old-world warmth with new-age tech. It's an environment where surfaces finished in open pore wood and digital screens sit in visual harmony.
Among the updates inside is the new three-spoke steering wheel that looks really classy and gets upgraded touch panels to operate the central infotainment screen and digital dials. The touch sensitivity is better than the older E's steering buttons, but some controls still seem a bit fiddly. Another thing perhaps only your chauffeur will have to deal with is the colour of the steering. Finished in cream, it's sure to be a pain to keep clean. Speaking of which, the E 350d AMG Line is unique for its Cream and Tropez Blue interior theme. The blue finish for the top portion of the dash and door pads looks distinctive and cool but might not be to everyone's taste, and possibly won't work well with all exterior colour options.
If there's an area that the E-Class continues to ace, it's comfort. The front seats are excellent but it's the ones at the back that just elevate the experience in the Merc to a whole different plane. The long wheelbase means tremendous legroom (there's also the option to move the front passenger seat forward, should you need more), the seat back is reclinable by 37 degrees and the pillow-like head restraints are just so comforting after a long day at work. There is space for a middle passenger, but the rear section is best experienced by two occupants with the massive centre armrest folded down.
Curiously, there's only one cupholder at the rear and positioned at the centre console, it's quite a stretch away. Another downer is the efficacy of the air-con system at the back. It doesn't cool the cabin quickly enough and this is something we had reported about on the earlier car as well. It's handy then that you now have the option of pre-cooling your car in advance via commands from the Mercedes app on your phone. The chauffeur-driven will also like the updated tablet at the back that not only lets you control music but also serves as a remote control to operate certain functions of the central screen up front.
2021 Mercedes Benz E Class facelift: what features does it get?
The 2021 E-Class is available in three variants and, as standard, it gets LED headlamps, a responsive 12.3-inch touchscreen, configurable 12.3-inch digital dials, e-SIM-based connected tech, vibrant 64-colour ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, powered rear seats with memory and a very premium soft-close door function. Exclusive trim cars add in a super Burmester sound system, rear wireless charging and a rear tablet control, while the range-topping AMG Line gets air suspension, a crisp 360-degree camera and front seats with memory.
What's missing is powered operation for the boot lid. The boot houses a dedicated compartment for the space saver spare tyre but as a compromise luggage space itself is quite limited, so the E might not be the car of choice for airport drops.
2021 Mercedes Benz E Class facelift: what's it like to drive?
As mentioned, there are three engines on offer. Featured here is the range-topping E 350d diesel. Notably, the E 350d made the switch from a V6 diesel to Merc's latest straight-six diesel over the transition to BS6 emission norms last year. It's a familiar engine that also powers the S-Class, GLE and GLS, but this is the first time we're experiencing it on the E-Class.
Headline numbers include 286hp of max power and 600Nm of max torque, but it's the engine's refinement that gets you first. It's very quiet at idle and even on the go, the slightly grainy sound from the engine bay is unobtrusive. This hushed experience is something owners will truly value.
Performance is expectedly brisk, with easy access to power all through the rev range – ask and you shall receive, literally. Playing its supporting role incredibly well is the 9-speed automatic gearbox that works with honeydew smoothness. And with a 6.1sec 0-100kph time, you can, to borrow a phrase from social media, race into the weekend too.
On the occasion when you do take the wheel yourself, you'll find the steering to be well-weighted and precise. For a car so large, the Merc is quite easy to drive, though tight U-turns are not its forte. The air suspension-equipped E-Class is also prone to touching its belly on large speed breakers so it's prudent to raise the suspension height via a button on the centre console in advance.
At higher speeds, the Merc changes direction with grace and it's actually enjoyable to drive, so long as you have the car in the right settings – that's drivetrain in Comfort (Sport makes the gearbox feel too urgent), suspension in Sport (tightens body movements) and steering in Sport (there's more weight). It's no point-and-shoot sedan, but you wouldn't expect it to be either.
Ride comfort is also excellent, but you'll need to be mindful of the suspension mode for the best experience. The E 350d's air suspension is absorbent and cushy at town speeds in Comfort mode, but up the pace and it feels floaty. Sport is your go-to suspension setting for faster journeys. It arrests unnecessary up and down movements and generally makes the big E feel more tied down.
2021 Mercedes Benz E Class facelift: should you buy one?
Typical E-Class buyers who are buying one for the rear seat experience will be satisfied with the E 200 (Rs 63.6-67.2 lakh, ex-showroom) or the E 220d (Rs 64.8-68.3 lakh). This range-topping E 350d (Rs 80.9 lakh) is a stretch, but the added outlay also gets you a properly strong engine and the enhanced comfort of air suspension. This is a car that's as enjoyable from behind the wheel, as it is at the back seat. The new look is also impactful and there's simply little to complain about the rest of the package either.
The E-Class has long been the default choice for large luxury sedan buyers in India. With the latest updates, the proposition has gotten stronger still.
2021 Mercedes-Benz E Class facelift video review