Never before has a Mercedes E-Class been as exciting in driving as it is now. Built on the new rear-wheel drive platform MRA, featuring a new infotainment system and a new ergonomics concept, the E-Class sets the dawn of a new era for Mercedes, especially so because under the hood there is a new generation 4-cylinder turbodiesel working. First test with the Mercedes E 220 d powered by the new 2.0 liter 194 HP turbo diesel.
For 9 model generations, the E-Class has been synonymous with the Business Class. But now, on its tenth generation, Mercedes is redefining this class into Business Sports. Never before has a Mercedes big-size sedan been so agile and enticing to drive. Naturally, there are many technical explanations behind this congenial sensation behind the wheel.
For the test, the E 220 D fitted with the AMG Line package was at our disposal. This variant is standardly equipped with the Agility Control suspension system and with a 15 mm lowered road clearance (one of the three suspension options for the E-Class).
Up-and-up dynamics, top comfort
The new E-Class is built on the rear-wheel drive MRA platform also used for the C-Class. Therefore, we find the groundbreaking four-link front axle in the E-Class as well, as it sets the steering apart from the suspension, significantly improving comfort, and even more, the handling and agility. With the front axle pushed forward (the front console is extremely short) and with the new front four-link layout, the E 220 d slightly understeers, much less than an Audi A 6, for example. The front drivetrain functions so precisely, as if it was running a railroad. With the AMG package, including 19-inch combined narrow bead tyres of 275/35 R19 at the rear and 245/40 R19 at the front, the E 220 d shows the same sharpness as a BMW 520d, especially when switching into the Sport or Sport+ mode from the Dynamic Select button, that additionally offers the Eco, Individual and Comfort modes. In the Sport+ mode, if challenged, the E 220 d slightly side-slips, as the ESP is more permissive. As a matter of fact, the ESP is exceptionally set, never interfering intrusively.
For this remarkable sharpness, not only the reduced kerbweight goes a long way, but also the perfect ratio distribution of 50/50%. Hereby, the front fenders and the hood are made of aluminium and the new diesel engine together with the automatic 9-speed gearbox are lighter than the previous units. For example, the automatic 9-speed 9G-Tronic gearbox with a magnesium case is 12 kg lighter than the previous 7-speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox, and the new 2-liter diesel entirely made of aluminium is 35,4 kg lighter than the past 2.1-liter unit.
We said that the new E-Class is not just a Business sedan, but also a Business Sports one, though the legendary comfort of the brand has not been neglected. Even in the variant fitted with the AMG package with big 19-inch wheels, narrow bead tyres, sports suspension and lowered road clearance, the E-Class offers high-class comfort on long-distance runs. A master in corners, the E-Class is an excellent motorway cruiser. Optionally, there is the Air Body Control airmatic suspension(2,261 euros), allowing the adjustment of the suspension in four different modes – Comfort, Comfort+, Sport and Sport+. And when it comes to sound insulation, the E-Class inches closer to the S-Class than to the C-Class. Even at speeds above 180 km/h, you can have a conversation in a very low voice inside the cockpit. With a reduced Cd value of only 0.23, with a very quiet drive train and a sovereign insulation, the drivetrain and wind noise level is very low.
- Very generous front and rear interior space
- Amazing new ergonomics
- Exciting sports-oriented behavior
- High-class comfort
- Very low-level noise
- Extremely refined and quiet diesel engine
- Reasonable real fuel consumption
MAX vs MIN
- Costly optional equipment
- The steering wheel placed too low
The diesel of a new era
The new 2-liter diesel engine is initiating a new engine generation with 4 and 6-inline cylinders. Delivering the same peak torque as before, of 400 Nm (reached at 1,600 rpm from the previous 1,400 rpm), the new engine develops 194 HP at 3,800 rpm, from the previous 170 HP at 3,000 rpm. The new 2-liter diesel unit is more compact. The distance between cylinders has been reduced from 94 to 90 mm, as their height was also lowered by mounting the balance shaft on the side of the crankshaft, instead of under it, so there is a space for a lower mountingof the engine within the car.
When driving, the first feeling you get is that the new engine is more refined and more silent. It stopped making that diesel-specific sound when accelerating and it subjectively turns zippy in revs, as the red line ends at 5,200 rpm. With the same peak torque, the pulling force is similar with that of the previous model, but the dynamic performance is obviously better. The new E 220 d with an automatic transmission runs from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds (8.2 seconds previously) and the top speed is of 240 km/h (227 km/h). The combination with the automatic transmission is ideal, as the new 9-speed gearbox provides not only a wide gear ratio of 9.15 between the first and last gear, but also responds more spontaneously especially when downgrading and “finds” the right gear faster when coming out of corners.
Mercedes is claiming a fuel consumption between 3.9 and 4.3 l/100 km, but this is not quite realistic in real driving conditions. In normal driving though, you can reach figures of 6-6.5 l/100 km, comparable with the small-sized cars fuel consumption. Considering the 1,680-kilogram kerbweight, the almost 200 HP output and the automatic gearbox, the figures can be thought to be pretty good.
The interior of the new E-Class is a combination of the C-Class center console and the S-Class dashboard panel. Apart from the S-Class though, the digital instrument cluster is optional in the E-Class (1,011.50 euros, with the Comand Online unit, 2,082.50 euros). They are displayed on a 12.3-inch TFT screen with the same size as that of the Comand unit display. Standardly, the E-Class comes fitted with the Audio 20 system with a 8.4-inch display and classic controls, flanking a 7-inch display for the bord computer.
The test car featured the Comand unit with the 12.3-inch display, but not the digital instrument cluster. The menus of the Comand system are completely new and the submenus are now better set. Also completely new there is the ergonomics concept. Instead of the two roller-controllers on the steering wheel (the left one used to access the menu of the bord computer), two touchpads have shown up. Virtually, by moving the finger up and down, it switches from one menu to another and by moving it sideways, you access the submenus of each menu. The left touchpad controls the bord computer features and the right one operates the Comand unit menus. Of course, the touchpad located above the controller stays, for writing destinations or telephone numbers.
The driving position is low like in the C-Class, but the steering wheel is placed a bit lower than in the C. The sports seats included in the interior AMG package (2,201.50 euros), featuring a new design and asymmetrical top stitching (wrapped in the finest genuine Nappa leather in the test model, 2,618 euro) have an incredible layout and provide extraordinary lateral support and top-level comfort in long-distance drives. Thanks to the dashboard panel that is not as massive as it used to be and significantly seen out in front of the front passenger (almost same as in the CLS), there is plenty of room at the front, and in the automatic transmission variants, the storage compartments in the center tunnel, the center console and in the doors are generously spacious.
The length of the car has increased less than the wheelbase (43 mm, 65 mm respectively), an indication that Mercedes has made an effective use of the interior space. Therefore, the room in the rear comes closer to that in the S-Class than to that of the C-Class, as the knee room is immense. Virtually, there is a two-palm room left between the rear passengers’ knees and the backrests of the front seats. Additionally, Mercedes finally selected a more practical solution, now optionally offering a 40/20/40% split rear bench (452.20 euros), with the side segments folding by the help of two handles placed in the trunk.
The boot volume stayed the same, at 540 liters, but the rear seats folding shall generate a plain loading surface. From the S-Class, the E inherited a batch of comfort accessories, such as the Air Balance package including better air-filtering, ionizing and odorizing or the Heat Comfort Package (heated armrests in the front doors and center console). When it comes to safety, the E-Class carries the new Multibeam LED headlights (2,320.50 euro), an assistance systems package, also allowing a semi-autonomous driving.
The new 4-link front axle
The new 4-link front axle plays a major part in improving the handling. Hence, the spring-damper assembly is not bolted to the wheel hub, as in the typical McPherson suspension diagram, but it is attached to one of the two cross-arms. And then the wheel hub is linked to the upper arm. What is the benefit of this? This way, the steering has been set apart form the spring-damper assembly. Further on, the stabilizing bars operate upon the arm that the spring is attached to, not upon the wheel. Because the new axle components are made of aluminium, they weigh 2 kilograms less than similar steel-made ones.
Photos: Bogdan Paraschiv
VerdictMercedes’ new E-Class is sophisticated, challenging in driving and very spacious. The new ergonomics concept is amazing and the new 2-liter diesel engine proofs that the diesel stays alive, providing the most effective consumption – performance rate, considering that its high-end technical solutions managed to hold back the NOx emissions so much slammed lately.
|Model||Mercedes E 220 d|
|Max. output/revs (HP/rpm)||194/3,800|
|Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)||400/1,600-2,800|
|Transmission||rear wheel drive|
|Boot volume (l)||540|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||7,3|
|Max. speed (km/h)||240|
|Average fuel consumption (l/100 km)||3.9|
|CO2 emissions (g/km)||102|
|Price (euro, VAT included)||47,124|