Prices and specification levels for the all-new E-Class Saloon, on sale in the UK from 15 August 2002, have been announced.
Costing from £24,940 on the road (for the E 200 KOMPRESSOR Classic), the range is packed full of new technology and extra standard equipment, including the revolutionary Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC™) system. Three trim levels – Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde are available, all with enhanced specification compared with the outgoing models.
Five engines will be available from launch – E 240, E 320 and E 500 petrol models, as well as two diesels: E 220 CDI and E 270 CDI. Following later in 2002 are the E 200 KOMPRESSOR, E 320 CDI and range-topping E 55 AMG models.
Hi-tech, low emission engines
These engines are either new to the E-Class or feature revisions: the 220 CDI and 200 KOMPRESSOR models now feature Lanchester balancers to ensure smooth, low-vibration running. The five-litre eight-cylinder petrol engine replaces the previous E 430 unit, while the new AMG engine includes a supercharger, similar to the unit fitted in the new SL 55 AMG.
Diesel engines feature more power and torque (E 220 CDI from 143 to 150 hp and 315 to 340 Nm; E 270 CDI from 170 to 177 hp and up to 425 Nm; E 320 CDI from 197 to 224 hp and from 470 to 500 Nm). Efficiency has increased along with the common rail pressure (to 1600 bar from 1350). New injector nozzles and internal geometry reduce particulate emissions, and fuel consumption improves by some two per cent. A 1700 watt electric heater warms the cabin interior of the diesel models, as the high thermal efficiency of the units means warmth usually available through the coolant system needs an electrical boost until the engine reaches its normal operating temperature.
Petrol models feature an adaptive accelerator, which learns the driver’s changing style, and responds accordingly. A spirited and swift drive across a sweeping A-road will elicit a sharper throttle response than a relaxed motorway cruise, or stop-start urban traffic, for example.
Six and eight-cylinder engines have a five-speed automatic gearbox as standard (including the E 240), with other models using a six-speed manual transmission. The E 200 KOMPRESSOR also has the option of the Sequentronic gearbox, which offers semi-automatic sequential shifting and automated clutch operation of the six-speed ’box.
New four-link front suspension (replacing the previous double wishbone set-up) and multi-link rear suspension combine with rack and pinion power assisted steering to provide a responsive, dynamic ride. This is further improved with the optional Airmatic Dual Control (DC) semi-active suspension system (which is standard on E 500 models). Airmatic DC controls the springs and dampers to give a supple ride with excellent handling characteristics.
More standard equipment
In addition to the technical enhancements, equipment levels on the new range are improved over the outgoing models. For example, Classic models now include alloy wheels; automatic climate control; rain sensing wipers; two-stage front airbags and front belt force limiters (outer rear seats retain single stage force limiters); heated windscreen washer jets; leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shift; and an 80-litre fuel tank on all but the E 200 KOMPRESSOR and E 220 CDI models (most cars previously had a 65 litre fuel tank).
All E 240 models now feature automatic transmission, with speed limiter and cruise control as standard. There’s also upgraded equipment for Elegance models, with standard metallic paint; parameter steering (E 320, E 500 and E 320 CDI only); with E 500 models also gaining luxury four-zone Thermotronic climate control; and Airmatic DC. Elegance models also have 13-hole alloy wheels and burr walnut wood trim.
Range-topping Avantgarde models add to the Classic specification with powerful bi-xenon headlights; LED rear brake lights, part leather upholstery (on the outer seat cushions); metallic paint, five-spoke alloy wheels and bird’s eye maple wood trim.
Revolutionary brake-by-wire system
In addition to its high levels of equipment, the new E-Class Saloon has a full array of safety features as standard, too. For the first time in a high-volume car, Mercedes Benz’s revolutionary Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC™) system is standard.
Pioneered in the new SL-Class last year, SBC™ is the world’s first "brake by wire" system. The brake pedal is connected electrically to the main brake cylinder, (removing the need for a vacuum-powered brake booster) and a powerful microprocessor passes the braking information on to the hydraulically-activated brakes using electrical pulses. In order to maintain the driver’s "feel" for the brakes, a special simulator uses spring pressure and hydraulics to give pedal resistance.
SBC™ gives quicker reaction times than a conventional system, meaning shorter stopping distances – around three per cent quicker at 70 mph. In wet conditions SBC™ will gently apply the brakes to dry the discs, thus improving wet weather braking performance. The driver is unaware that the brakes are operated.
World-class safety features
A brace of other safety features – ABS anti-lock braking with BAS Brake Assist (as part of the SBC™ system) are standard. ESP (Electronic Stability Program) maintains safe progress even in extreme driving conditions.
Six airbags (two front airbags, front side airbags and full-length window airbags) are standard as part of Mercedes Benz’s integrated safety solution. As well as a rigid passenger safety cell, and the use of high strength steels throughout, the E-Class is the world’s first saloon car to have a rollover sensor as standard.
If the vehicle rolls, the car triggers the side airbags and seat belt tensioners to help protect occupants. This forms part of the car’s unique ARMADA system, which uses sensors and algorithms to improve detection of accident type, and therefore give the best combination of protection.
These intelligent solutions, and high quality engineering ensure that the new E-Class is one of the safest new cars on the road.
Beauty, brains and brawn
However, style hasn’t been sacrificed at the altar of safety. As well as being incredibly strong, the new E-Class Saloon has a very sleek, dynamic appearance with a coupé-like side profile.
The familiar four-headlamp front has been revised, and is more rakishly angled than before. The side profile has shorter front and rear overhangs, and moves the eye swiftly to the rear. A hint of a rear spoiler on the boot lip and curved rear tail lights combine to give a compact, recognisable exterior that’s sure to appeal to all kinds of customer. This appeal will be widened by the different model lines – Elegance and Avantgarde cars are strikingly different.
In pure dimensional terms, the new E-Class Saloon is the same length as its predecessor, but at 1822 mm, is 23 mm wider. Height has increased by 12 mm to 1452 mm, and the wheelbase is lengthened by 21 mm to 2854 mm. Front and rear tracks are up by 35 mm and 34 mm respectively, to 1577 mm and 1570 mm. Front and rear overhangs have been reduced by 10 mm and 11 mm. Aerodynamically, a drag coefficient of just 0.26 ensures it remains at the head of its segment’s field.
The stylish story continues inside, with a high quality, beautifully-assembled and cleverly-designed interior. Soft-touch materials abound, from the new dashboard, to the seat controls. The instrument binnacle includes a striking white-on-black hooped central speedometer, with an internal electronic display (controlled by the standard multi-function steering wheel).
To the left of the speedo is an analogue clock (which can automatically synchronise to that of the audio system), and to the right a rev counter. Engine temperature and fuel levels are shown in two columns – one at either side of the cluster. The dials are chrome-ringed on Elegance models, and chromed with black-on-white for Avantgarde cars.
Wood trim is standard in all three trim levels – with discreet chrome accents in Elegance and Avantgarde guises. Supportive seats are available in four colours. Dynamic multi-contour front seats are optional across the range. When cornering, the side bolsters automatically inflate to give greater lateral support. Through a left hand corner, the right bolster inflates, and vice versa.
Safety, style, design and quality is standard in every E-Class, but it doesn’t cost the Earth. Prices for the new range are competitive, with an overall average increase of just 3.6 per cent compared with the previous generation. However, with the higher level of new standard specification on all cars, the new E-Class Saloon actually offers customers better value for money than before.
On the road prices
|E 200 KOMPRESSOR||1796 cc, 163 hp||£24,940|
|E 240||2597 cc, 177 hp||£28,040|
|E 320||3199 cc, 224 hp||£33,440|
|E 500||4966 cc, 306 hp||£41,840|
|E 55 AMG||5439 cc, 476 hp||TBA|
|E 220 CDI||2148 cc, 150 hp||£25,985|
|E 270 CDI||2685 cc, 177 hp||£27,435|
|E 320 CDI||3222 cc, 224 hp||£32,795|
The on the road price includes road fund licence and the £485 additional costs necessary to put each new car on the road. Included are UK delivery (£395 including VAT), new vehicle registration fee (£25), number plates and a full tank of fuel. Customers can instead elect to collect their car from the factory at Sindelfingen, Germany at no extra cost.
Upgrading from the standard Classic specification to Elegance trim costs an additional £2,100; whilst Avantgarde is £2,600. The price differentials reflect the specification levels in each range. E 320, E 500 and E 320 CDI models are priced at Elegance trim level as standard: upgrading to Avantgarde will cost an additional £500.
All new E-Class Saloons bought from an authorised UK retailer include a three-year unlimited mileage warranty and mobilo-life, Mercedes Benz’s industry-leading 30-year anti-corrosion and breakdown package. Also standard is ASSYST PLUS, an advanced variable service interval system. ASSYST PLUS gives remaining time and distance before the next service is needed, and also details the type of work required. It also suggests a date for the next main inspection or emissions check.
Developed at a cost of some £1.6 billion over a 48-month period, the new E-Class Saloon incorporates the very latest road car technology in a stylish, refined, dynamic, desirable package. It looks set to become the most sought-after new car in its segment.Published 10 June 2002