The E-class is the model with which Mercedes first came to India many years ago. Now, it’s ready with an all-new model in a stretched-out long-wheelbase avatar.
In fact, India is the first right-hand-drive market to get the E-class long-wheelbase.
The first thing that strikes you about the new E is that it’s a really long car, and it’s this length that gives it the majestic limousine look. The highest specification variant of the 350d gets air suspension. In its lowest setting, ground clearance is just 120mm, though you can raise this by 15mm using the “lift” function. However, the underside scrapes over a few speed-breakers. What’s nice, though, is that the smart 17-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in tyres with tall sidewalls which help the car absorb bad roads better.
The focus of the car is its rear seats, and this is where the new E-class impresses. There is more legroom than you will ever need, and the seats are sure to set a new benchmark in the class in terms of comfort. They are nicely bolstered and offer excellent support all round. The back rest even reclines electrically, and that, combined with the pillow-soft headrest cushions, makes the rear seats the perfect spot for a power nap. And if you need more legroom, you can push the front passenger seat forward with the touch of a button. The double panoramic roof adds to the sense of space inside.
However, the middle seat is narrow, and it is best to flip down the centre armrest for comfort. There are other shortcomings too. There’s just one USB slot for the rear passengers, who will not be able to control the Comand infotainment system, and the air-con system takes quite a while to cool the massive cabin.
The Comand system features a 12.3-inch display and is paired with a Burmester surround-sound audio system. It can be controlled via a jog-dial and a touch pad as well as small steering-mounted touch pads. It doesn’t have touch controls, and the car being sold in India doesn’t get the all-digital instrument cluster that the E-class sold internationally has—instead, it uses a rather ordinary-looking analogue instrument cluster.
However, the E-class comes loaded with Mercedes’ Pre-Safe system (it tightens seat belts and braces passengers in case of an imminent impact), and a 360-degree camera, handy when manoeuvring a car this big through tight spaces. There’s even a Park Pilot which steers the car into a parking spot for you.
Those who like to drive will definitely appreciate the 258hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. It’s supremely refined, you can hardly hear it in the cabin. In addition, it’s got nine-speed transmission.
The E-class can be quite quick when you want it to be; it can accelerate from 0-100 kmph in a claimed 6.6 seconds. Pick up the pace, however, and the lateral body movement is quite noticeable, more so over bad roads. It’s best to use the Sport or Sport+ modes— the car feels more tied down and is better to drive. In Sport+ though, it feels too eager to accelerate and speed up, which can be slightly disconcerting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
In case you don’t plan on driving yourself around, the 2.0-litre petrol-powered variants, starting at Rs56.15 lakh, will serve you better. The car will also get a new 2.0-litre diesel engine sometime later this year. Chauffeur-driven buyers should be impressed with the car’s ride, which almost makes you feel like you’re travelling on a cushion of air, especially in the Comfort mode.
You must consider the new E-class if you are thinking of buying a luxury car with a brilliant back seat. It’s spacious, supremely comfortable, and as with all Mercedes cars, has a cabin that’s fastidiously put together. In the right drive mode, it can tackle bad roads well, and the big diesel engine is even fun to drive. Prices range from Rs56.15-69.47 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), which means the top-specification variant is almost Rs7 lakh costlier than the predecessor.