Times are changing at Mercedes-Benz. The cars that wear a three-pointed star are looking less staid and traditional these days, with a much more contemporary style than has been the way of Mercedes models of the past. Following on from the visual glamorising of its A, B and C-Class models, the model planners in Stuttgart have now turned their attention on the E-Class and given it a makeover that has modernised the car considerably.
According to Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board at Mercedes, the new-generation E-Class is “a car to raise the bar for automotive gourmets”. So if your taste favours a Merc, it could be worth a closer look. The new E-Class is available with either of two different front styles. ‘Elegance’ models have a more restrained, conventional design with a prominent Mercedes grille and the familiar three-pointed star badge riding on top of the bonnet like a figurehead on the prow of a ship. It’s the old-school choice. Or alternatively, ‘Avantgarde’ models are more contemporary and wear a large Mercedes star emblem with a black background, set into the centre of the grille.
There are both four-door saloons and five-door estate cars in the range, and a choice of 2.0 or 3.0 litre petrol and 2.2 or 3.0 litre diesel engines, plus a diesel-electric hybrid version. Prices start from £32,400 for diesel models and £33,980 for petrol cars. The flagship model of the range is the E63 AMG, which has a powerful V8 petrol engine and four-wheel-drive, and a price tag of £74,945.Performance
Our test car is the model expected to be the best-seller of the range, the E250 CDI with a 2.2 litre turbodiesel engine packing a meaty 201 bhp punch of peak power at 3,800 rpm. It has 369 lb ft of torque, on song at 1,600 to 1,800 rpm. A mountainous test route in Spain for the international launch of the new E-Class could have been a trial for a less powerful car, but it was no problem for this one, despite a fairly hefty weight of nearly two tonnes of body weight to haul around.
The E250 CDI has plenty of performance and good acceleration, with a 0-62 acceleration time of 7.5 seconds that would not disgrace a sports car, and a top speed of well over double the UK legal limit. The transmission is a seven-speed G-Tronic Plus auto. The downside of this version is that the four-cylinder engine starts to sound a bit coarse when you work it hard. The six-cylinder engines in the range are smoother and quieter, but the price inevitably goes up too.
With a 136 g/km CO2 output, this version of the E-Class is in band E for road tax and is at 22 per cent for Benefit-in-Kind company car taxation.
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