Our E-Class weekend continues. After giving you the first exclusive test drive with the all-new E 220 d we raise another question. How does the new Mercedes compare to its direct rivals? Thus, we pit the E 220 d against the Jaguar XF and Audi A6, courtesy of Auto motor und sport. Eurovision 2016. No, not the song contest, but the first-ever E-Class comparison test.
Mercedes E-Class has grown bigger: a few extra millimeters were dedicated to the wheelbase (2,939 instead of 2,874 millimeters) and a few more to its length (4,923 instead of 4,868 millimeters). Not much, one would think, but here in the bright sunlight the new Mercedes E 220 d definitely strikes us as more imposing than its predecessor. Even the accompagnying Audi A6 and Jaguar XF seem subjectively more delicate. The differences in real life are negligible: The Jaguar is in fact a good two centimeters longer than the Audi and approximately three centimeters longer than its rival from Mercedes.
With such similar dimensions, it is not surprising that the space in the three business sedans brings no significant differences with the new E-Class easily the champion in this company. Even so, the XF seems somewhat tighter, you sit deeper but more upright in the rear. The knee room in the A6 also looks to be the smallest here, something to be expected since it has almost three centimeters less than the E 220 d in terms of wheelbase lenght. In addition, the Mercedes offers the most comfortable rear seats, ideal for chauffeur limo or taxi activities. The usual suspects, then.
Brand new generation of engines
First, the Mercedes, which, as you already know for some time, comes with a new generation of diesel engines, codenamed OM 654. The all-aluminum four-cylinder diesel starts at the gentle touch of a button and rushes softly towards its idle rpm, very little noise penetrating into the interior. Quieter than ever, but also vigorous and quick to rev, doing perfect justice to the appealing factory specifications: 194 hp and 400 Nm of torque, all complemented by the quick and smooth nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic display sending power to the rear wheels.
The stalk switch conundrum: at Mercedes the gear lever wandered a few years ago to the steering column. Plenty of time to get accustomed to this, then. Jaguar also try to reinvent the wheel with its thick rotary knob that looks cool, but is inconvenient and not safe to operate as it distracts the driver’s attention. Conventional but ideal, the classic selector lever in the A6. So why invent something new when the proven solution works so neatly?
Less displacement, less noise, more power
Let’s see how the three limos drive. The Mercedes accelerated quickly through the city with the engine remaining quiet even at higher speeds. The effort of switching to an all-new generation of engines was so worthwhile. The OM 654 diesel engine is completely redesigned, it is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, while it also has less capacity (1,950 instead of 2,143 cc) but a higher specific output (99 instead of 79 hp per liter of displacement).
One of the tricks used by the engine developers can be revealed here: The new diesel has a greater twist. What this means is that the vertical axis of the cylinder is offset by twelve millimeters to the crankshaft axis. In other words: The piston does not sit right, but slightly offset to the crankshaft. This saves height, ensures reduced friction and much lower noise levels.
The diesel development strategy is also something the two competitors take very seriously. The two-liter diesel Jaguar, though not quite as strong with its 180 horsepower, is also brand-new. It has to haul the lighter car in this test, so it is very zippy, albeit acoustically more present and less silky than the Mercedes engine. The Audi does not dissapoint either, even if it sees its vigour penalized by the Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Adaptive damping is hardly today’s news in this segment. Even so, the E-Class sets new standards of comfort with its Air Body Control air suspension: it comes with three air chambers for each strut at the rear and two at the front, while the spring rate can be controlled or even configured in multiple steps. The whole thing costs 2,261 euros extra, but after the first driving impression it’s worth every penny. The Mercedes glides confidently over the very bumpy freeways in Lisbon, without losing composure at any time and thus contributes highly to the smooth, flowing driving impression.
The competition is not quite as convincing, both the Audi and especially the Jaguar feathering clearly less supple, an impression that is reinforced by the less comfortable seating.
The fun factor is all that remains to be tested then, as the three top class competitors drive off the highway towards the winding mountain roads around Estoril and Cascais. None of the three sedans acts oversized on the narrow streets, all three are agile, fast, light-footed. Little advantage here for Jaguar and Mercedes, both blessed with a joyful steering feel.
So we are almost at the end and have written nothing about the active lane change assistant or the Active Brake Assist system with intersection function or the Drive Pilot. All systems that take the Mercedes E-Class a few steps further on the road to autonomous driving and are embedded in the Driver Assistance package Plus for 2,856 euros . Of course, we didn’t speak about the wonders of the widescreen dual-cockpit or the touch buttons grafted on the steering wheel… we will put under the microscope all these tech-marvels in the next test with the E-Class. Intensively, we promise!
Source: Auto motor und sport.de