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Rating 9 9

Mercedes Benz E350

29th Sep 2009 7:00 am

It’s no surprise that the E-class comes across as a brilliantly engineered car with outstanding comfort, refinement and top-notch quality

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

Unlike the outgoing E-class (W211), which was an evolution of the car that preceded it (W210), the latest E-class (W212) is quite a radical departure from the rounded and softer lines of the car it replaces. The bulge over the rear wheel arch stretching into the wings is a throwback to Mercedes models of the 1950s, while the four-headlamp front, a feature of the past two generations of the E-class, has been given a new twist. Mercedes says the headlamp design is meant to give the look of precious gems pressed into the wings. We think the look is a touch contrived. What looks great are the standard daylight running lights next to the fog lights.

The Avantgarde model gets LED bulbs set in a boomerang shape. A more upright grille with a more pronounced V-shape makes the new E look more assertive. At the rear, the winged lights are quite dramatic and the crease on the centre of the boot lid is quite prominent. Dimensionally, the new car is longer (by 16mm) and wider (by 32mm) and lower (by 10mm) than the outgoing W211 but the erect and rather formal styling gives the impression that it is substantially larger. Despite the squared-off styling, Mercedes has achieved a drag coefficient of just 0.26 which is highly creditable.
 

Step inside the new E-class and the immediate impression is of understated quality. It has precise switchgear and lots of soft-touch plastics although some materials and textures like on the steering boss don’t feel very special. The beige interiors have a shade of brown which is not to our liking; we feel the E-class looks best and classiest with black interiors, which is also an option. The ‘waterfall’ lighting effect which splits the dashboard and the downlighting on the door switchgear looks simply fantastic at night.

The dashboard is upright with angles and straight lines instead of the flowing shape of the previous E-class.  Taking pride of place is the high-mounted screen housed in its own binnacle. A single knob lets you scroll through the on-screen menus to operate most functions. The stereo and climate control systems get conventional controls and the mass of tiny buttons that surround them can be quite confusing.

The best news is that Mercedes has finally agreed to give the E-class fully-powered seats. The sound system is beefed up, parking sensors are standard and so are cornering lights. And, of course, safety too is enhanced with more airbags than before and a unique Attention Assist system which detects drowsiness and gives a warning!

At the heart of the new E-class’s brilliant handling is Mercedes’ variable ratio Direct Steer system. It is a brilliant combination of being perfectly weighted (not too heavy and not too light) accurate and blessed with good feel. The new E darts into corners with lots of enthusiasm and little body roll. The harder you go, the tauter the handling gets which allows you to place this big saloon precisely and directional changes are dealt with confidently. The two-stage hydro-mechanically self-adjusting dampers offer a supple ride for relaxed driving and a stiffer set-up when you want to barrel into corners.

The variable steering system cuts steering lock by almost 15 percent and the turning circle too has been shaved by 15cm, allowing you to more confidently negotiate city traffic and parking. When roads are at their worst, the E-class glides over the worst surfaces with barely a jolt filtering into the cabin. The damping is well judged making the car feel very pliant. The brakes were outstanding and offer significantly better feel with none of the previous system’s mushiness.

Mercedes Benz E350
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