Date registered: May 2007
Vehicle: Zotye Auto 1.5T T600 2016
Location: The wild west of the Far East
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The new E Class rating 5 out of 5
Mercedes launches high-tech E-Class
Expert Rating: 5 out of 5
What is it?
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the German firm's lifeblood. Despite a massive model line-up encompassing everything from three-door hatchbacks, through ultra-luxury saloons, chunky SUVs and 200mph supercars, the E-Class is a mainstay in the range. In saloon - or forthcoming estate guise - it's always been a big seller, Mercedes claiming it has sold around 12 million cars in this category since 1947.
Is it any good?
Being such an immensely important vehicle in the company's product line means Mercedes has really gone to town with the new car. It's absolutely loaded with new technology covering safety, comfort, emissions, economy and refinement. It's more technologically advanced than its S-Class sibling with new equipment debuting on the E-Class that has not yet made it up the model ladder to the bigger saloon.
Economy and emissions have been key drivers in the development of the E-Class and the results are fairly spectacular. The economy drive is headed by the turbodiesel range, though all powerplants - with the exception of the V8s - get Mercedes's latest BlueEfficiency technology in the company's quest to keep emissions and fuel consumption in check. Low rolling resistance tyres, slippery aerodynamics and clever on-demand under bonnet auxiliaries help enormously here. The four-cylinder turbodiesels return 53.3mpg on the official combined cycle and just 139g/km of CO2 when combined with a manual transmission. That's for every four-cylinder turbodiesel unit too, from the E 200 CDI right up to the thumping E 250 CDI with its 204bhp and 369lb.ft of torque.
It is not just on economy that Mercedes has been busy either, the safety boffins also filling the E-Class with new kit. Standard on all cars is Attention Assist, this monitoring system using sensors to detect when drivers are getting drowsy and warning them to take a break. In addition to this there are countless other driver assistance systems, some more successful than others - the flashing lights, speed limit warnings, audible bongs and vibrating steering wheels of systems like the Lane Keep Assist among other optional driver aids actually being rather distracting.
That detracts from the E-Class's core appeal: its refinement and comfort. Pick any engine and you'll barely hear it, while the wind and road noise are also eerily hushed. The suspension cossets, and while that's to the ultimate detriment of the E's sharpness when the roads start winding it's not as out of its depth on a back road as you might think. The steering has very little feedback but its weighting is consistent and turning the wheel results in the E's nose going where you want it to. It all feels nicely balanced and even if it's not a scalpel sharp driving machine the E-Class excels in other areas - particularly at being an utterly effortless long distance companion.
The new Merc looks classy too, our initial reservations about the styling fading when seeing the E-Class in natural light. The LED lights are a touch fussy but overall the E-Class presents a confident, classy look that's unmistakably E-Class, yet utterly contemporary. Space inside is good and the boot is absolutely vast too - you could lose your golf clubs in there forever.
Should I call the bank manager?
You can try speaking to the bank but you might want to speak to your Mercedes dealer first as they'll probably do you a better finance rate. Mercedes has rightfully realised the marketplace for executive saloons isn't what it once was and is offering its new E-Class as a far more value-laden proposition. All cars in the revised three trim level line-up come with kit like Bluetooth telephony, parking sensors and electrically adjusted seats and that clever Attention Assist technology as standard. The price points are lower than the outgoing car's and with its greater frugality it'll be cheaper to run too - at the pumps as well as in regards to your company car tax bill if the business is paying for it.
The new E-Class does exactly what most executive saloon customers will want their car to do - cover big mileages with utter impunity. The refinement on offer is sensational, the economy - not just in those super-efficient turbodiesels - is excellent and it's cheaper to buy, own and run. It'll not win in group tests against more focussed driving rivals, but then the E-Class isn't about taking corners at the highest speeds possible; it's about appealing to those people who bought the 12 million cars that preceded it, and here it's absolutely spot on.
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second ... if there is one
- Winston Churchill, in response.