Text: Brent Co / Photos: Kelvin Christian Go | posted August 23, 2016 12:05
Intelligent Business Class
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been an icon of success and luxury in markets all over the world for decades. Four generations of E-Class and five generations of the nameplate's predecessors give a strong testament to the presence and prestige of Mercedes-Benz in the executive car segment.
Now we have a new heir to the E-Class; an all-new model that promises more luxury, more comfort, more tech, and more of the same greatness that is expected of the brand's best selling nameplate.
Having made its global debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W213) traces its stylish roots back to the W120 'Ponton' from over six decades ago, it has arguably been one of the most popular models in the Stuttgart-based automaker’s stable. However, it was not until 1993 (W124 facelift) when the German automaker decided to officially designate it as the E-Class.
Making its debut in the Philippine market as the 2017 E200 just a couple of months ago, the new E-Class can be considered one of the freshest premium offerings in the local market. The tagline "Masterpiece of Intelligence" by Mercedes-Benz might be a bit overpromising considering more intelligent cars from Tesla which are virtually equipped with a tablet computer and able to drive themselves. It does come equipped with features such as Internet connectivity, Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist, Steering Pilot, and Active Lane Change Assist.
At first look, one could instantly say that the E-Class is like a larger C-Class, or a smaller S-Class. However, this isn’t exactly the case. As they say, the devil is in the details; the sleek and extremely curvaceous form of the E-Class is not only aesthetically appealing, it is also very aerodynamic. It actually boasts of a very low drag coefficient at 0.23Cd.
In terms of styling, the new E-Class represents a proper evolution of the three-pointed star design language as it takes a step into the modern while retaining elements that distinguish the model. While the model traditionally seems like a saloon car for the older generation, the new iteration seems to invite a more vibrant and well-to-do crowd as well.
Being an Avantgarde trim, it comes with a new two bar grill in place of the traditional Mercedes-Benz chrome radiator grill with a sportier set of wheels; a lot less chrome, giving the car a more sport-elegance appeal.
Open the door and you are welcomed with a very elegant and futuristic interior. Once you set yourself in the cockpit, you are greeted with several digital screens accented by a wraparound metal panel and plush leather. The choice of high quality materials is evident, regardless of which surface you examine or touch.
Powering the infotainment system is the latest iteration of the COMAND system with a trackpad-like controller in addition to the bevy of buttons; however, access to online features will be an option on the Avantgarde. The entertainment system is spec’d with Burmester Audiosysteme components which is so far one of the best I’ve listened to in a car.
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated at 184 metric horsepower with 300 newton-meters of torque; mated to a new 9-speed automatic driving power to the rear wheels. The engine is essentially a carryover from the previous generation, only mated to a new transmission.
While the numbers may seem feeble in this day and age of high horsepower and torque figures, the E 200 is no slouch unless you’re planning to terrorize the streets. Okay, it’s not as exciting a drive as you would get from a 3.5-liter V6 or a 2.0-liter turbodiesel; it does offer refinement and precision. Throttle response and power delivery is respectable throughout the power band as the transmission effectively distributes power through all nine gears. Overtaking is no problem in the city or highway as long as you're staying within legal limits.
If you’re screaming for more, you’re obviously looking at the wrong car and attempting to please the wrong crowd as well. Your street terrorist tales may not appeal to the executive class.
Comfort is pretty much synonymous to a Mercedes-Benz E-Class; having gotten to experience every generation since the W124. From the feel of the airiness of the cabin and the luxurious appeal; the road experience is smooth as you’d expect of something business class. It’s soft, steady and rides smooth over a variety of road conditions.
The apparent 'Achilles heel' of the E-Class would be in the handling department, as it is normally configured for comfort and refinement. It handles a bit too 'flowy' for my liking and I’m sure those who like to drive a bit more on the 'spirited' side would agree. Don’t get me wrong, the rather slow steering still goes where you want it to; it’s just a bit too light and somewhat lacks the feedback you’d expect from a tactile Euro car.
If you are a well-to-do individual, a three-pointed star car will definitely bode well in your garage and with your status in life. At its pricetag PhP of 4,290,000; it hits right in the heart of BMW’s 4-Series Gran Coupe and significantly lower than the 5 Series luxury trim. It does smartly dodge the Lexus GS350 as well in terms of pricing with the four-ringed choice from Inglostadt pricing itself within 5 Series territory.
However, both cars from Bavaria are equipped with 2.0-liter diesel powertrains, while the Merc is gas-fed which gives it an edge in terms of refinement. The choice is pretty much between comfort or driving excitement when comparing cars in this class. For the usually driven who occasionally takes the wheel, the choice is obvious (lucky manong driver).