Mercedes 2014 E-Class E250 CDI AvantGarde review: Mid-life Miracle

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Added in: Mercedes Benz

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In the wild Indian car bazaar, where minimal cosmetic changes are enough to deem a model ‘all new’, the new E-class comes as a genuine delight. In its mid-life upgrade the new 2014 E-Class offers substantially more gear over the car it replaces. With major changes made to the interior, exterior, engines and safety tech, the new 2014 E-class amazed us with the degree of progress it has achieved for a facelift.

Having driven the E63 AMG variant of the car at the BIC earlier, we had a fair idea of what to expect from the basic version of the car. Moreover, the heavily specced and power packed E63 AMG left the vanilla E250 CDI with little to impress us. To our surprise, the new E-class delighted us by surpassing our expectations by a more than a fair margin in the real world. We took the mid-level luxury saloon for a 300 km spin to get familiar with it, and had a time to remember.

Words: Amit Chhangani

Images: Hanoz Patel & Harsh Vyas

Design and visuals

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The new E-class has been thoroughly overhauled. However, it still uses the shell of its predecessor. This means that the overall proportions remain the same, though much has changed in terms of detailing and design.

Internationally the new E-class is available in two flavors as regards the front fascia. The standard model, as well as the ELEGANCE variant comes with a 3-louvre grille and Mercedes-Benz star on the bonnet. The AVANTGARDE variant, on the other hand, has a twin louver design with a massive star in the middle of the grille to exude a sportier character. For India, Mercedes has gone the sporty way with the AvantGarde styling. And it’s the better choice of the two in our humble opinion. More and more youngsters are buying these premium saloons and the sporty styling suits their taste better.

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Unlike the previous version where the E-Class had four separate headlamp lenses, the new E has only two front lenses. M-B, however, has retained the four-eyed look for the E-class with segmentation under the main lens. The boundaries for the two separate pairs of lamps are defined by the edges of daytime running lights, which by themselves look quite stunning. Styled in a tapering shape towards the grille, these lights are the highlight of the new E-class’s stunning new face.

Both bumper and bonnet have been redesigned. There are no lights on the new bumper and with the wing design of its curved spoiler lip it subtly underlines the sporty aspirations of the E-Class.

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The low-beam headlamps and the daytime running lamps feature LED technology as standard. Full LED headlamps are also available as an option. Some tweaks to the profile are targeted at making the car ‘look’ longer, although the length remains unchanged. New lines in profile also work towards making the car look tauter and ready for action when looked at from the front three quarters.

At the rear, the lights and bumper have been revised. The design for the tail lamps is new with a two-tone white and red look. The horizontally laid out tail-lamps emphasize the width, and with fibre optics create a characteristic night design which is typical of Mercedes. The high mount stop lamp also uses LED technology.

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The redesigned rear bumper extends out and incorporates the stylish, angular exhausts with chrome tipped mufflers on the Avantgarde variant.

In all, the new Mercedes E-Class even after retaining the basic chassis and dimensions of its forebear manages to exude a much more modern and stylish character. It looks elegantly sporty, and those new headlights make it identifiaable from a mile away. Kudos to Mercedes benz designers for pulling off a stellar job for a mid-life update of this generation of E.

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Interior, features and cabin comfort

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Just like the exterior, the interior of the new E-Class has received a liberal makeover. And we are delighted to declare that this Merc does manage to excite you with its fresh new flavor. To start with, we were absolutely dazzled by the immaculate workmanship and finesses with which the cabin has been put together. The quality of materials, the judicious appointment of them, the ergonomics and above all, the meticulous putting together of bits sets a new benchmark in its class. The silver finish A/C louvers, the wheels to control them, the buttons – everything has an old-worldly, plastic free solidity and sturdiness about them.

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There’s a triple pod instruiment cluster with white and black dials. On the right you have the tacho, on the left you have your fuel guage and enegine temperature indicator with other tell tale lights and in the middle you have a digital cum analogue speedo with a multi information display. The high resolution MID delivers a sea of information and adds greatly to the upmarket feel of the car.

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The four spoke design of the steering wheel with leather cover and dimpled area around the horizontal spoke makes it visually smart and very functional. The buttons on the wheel are quite intuitive too.

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Most part of the center console has been laid out in traditional M-B fashion. A classy clock to add to the luxury feel makes an appearance between the central A/C louvers.  Below that you have your audio controls with somewhat intimidating M-B layout of numbers and several other buttons. In out humble opinion, the buttons can be reduced and the setup can be unified with a screen based operation via COMAND system.

Below the audio controls you have the buttons for controlling rear blinds, head rest, harzard lights, Eco mode toggle and parking assist on/off. At the botton of the stack you have the control for the A/C.

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The AUDIO 20 infortainment system in the car is controlled via the central controller between the front seats. The menus to control various functions are visible on the TFT Colour display with 14.7cm screen. The system incorporates a 6 DVD changer, USB and Bluetooth as standard.

Apart from the changes mentioned above, a major highlight of the cabin as regards aesthetics and comfort is the new seat design. The piping for the seat on the new E-class is different from the earlier model. The new design makes the seats look much classier than the earlier iteration. With this single change, M-B have managed to lend the interior of the new E-Class a sense of exclusivity.

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Further eye-catching features include the ambient lighting and the new materials used for inserts on the dashboard and the door panels. The new aluminium finish material which replaces wood inserts as an option look and feeks extremely upmarket, and infuses a sense on novelty in the M-B cabin. Another highlight is the array of sophisticated technology at work behind the scenes such as the Direct-Steer system, ATTENTION ASSIST, PRE-SAFE, and a total of eight airbags.

In addition, the new E-Class also comews with Active Parking Assist. The technology, which has been seen on quite a few other models, finds a parking space and manoeuvres the vehicle into located spaces automatically. The driver is required only to operate the accelerator and brake pedals.

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At the backseat, the space is liberal to say the least. On our way back from Karjat, I decided to take the back bench to understand the comfort at the second row better. Without even realizing it, I dozed off within minutes. Hanoz, who was occupying the front seat, had to collect his car on the way, and he couldn’t keep awake for long either. The seats on the new E-class are amazingly comfy, though we would have liked the recline angle at the back seat softer. Currently it’s a little steeper than ideal in our opinion.

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Engine, transmission and performance

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Our test car, the E250 CDI comes powered with a 2.2 liter (2143cc) inline 4 diesel engine. The peak power output for the engine is rated at 204bhp at 4200 rpm, while the peak torque of a prodigious 500 Nm is produced between 1600-1800 rpm. All those numbers come together to help the e3250CDi sprint from a standstill to 100 km/h in well below 8 seconds (7.5 s as claimed by Mercedes). The top speed is 242 km/h.

The new generation engine, featuring low-emissions and better refinement is smooth and linear as ever. Appreciably quiet around the 200-2500 rpm rev range, the engine gets slightly vocal only when you rev it up. There is ample power and torque available from as low as 1000 rpm, and there is absolutely no impression of a turbo lag as you press the throttle from low revs.

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New generation common-rail technology on the engine features an injection pressure which has been increased to up to 2000 bar, optimized combustion chambers, and extremely fast and precisely controlled piezo injectors. Added refinement comes courtesy of two Lanchester balancer shafts. As an added tech, the radiator shutter reduces the air resistance if the engines require only moderate cooling.

The engine is mated with a further optimized version of the 7G-Tronic transmission with a Plus tag.

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Compared to the preceding 7G-TRONIC transmission, the electro-hydraulic control unit has been enhanced, while the engine and transmission software has been optimised, resulting in further improved gearshift dynamics and gearshift quality. Furthermore, the 7G-TRONIC PLUS is tuned to give the driver more direct response to changes in the accelerator pedal position. ECO start/stop feature comes as standard. The engine is automatically switched off whenever the vehicle is at a standstill.

Mercedes-Benz is also promoting their Direct Select feature which allows the driver to select the drive mode from a selector lever behind the steering wheel. In all honesty, we are not very big fans of this feature, as newbie drivers may end up putting the car in neutral thinking of the selector lever as an indicator stalk. If you were to accelerate hard after turning the indicator, you run a chance of entering Neutral, and losing drive, which can be hazardous in certain circumstances.

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Apart from the automatic shifts, gears can also be shifted via the steering-wheel mounted gearshift paddles. You can switch to sport mode for more aggressive shifts, which hold on to the revs for longer.

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We loved the refined engine of the e250 CDI, with its useable power, spirited acceleration and linear character. It’s got enough spunk if you wish to drive spiritedly, and it can cruise at 1400-2000 rpm all day long at 100-120 km/h if your focus is efficiency. It’s just the perfect engine for our kind of conditions.

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Ride and handling

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While I wasn’t overly impressed with the driving dynamics and driver involvement of the previous gen E-Class, the steering on the new car felt lighter, yet more alive. Somehow the car with its slightly stiffer suspension, and a more lively felt more ready for action. Previously, while making my ascent to Lonavala via the Mumbai Pune expressway, I felt the body roll and the suspension softness as a bit more than desirable, even after taking the comfort factor into consideration. The new E felt just right.

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Much of the credit for the improved driving dynamics can be attributed to the DIRECT CONTROL suspension system, which adjusts the damping effect based on the driving conditions. An even sportier version of the suspension which is optional for the ELEGANCE trim, but comes as standard for the AVANTGARDE version that we tested offers an ever sportier driver. The sportier DIRECT CONTROL suspension has 15mm lower ground clearance (which did see us scrape the belly of the car on a few occasions). The system also ensures constant ground clearance – irrespective of the vehicle load.

The affect of this advanced damping technology, along with the AIRMATIC air suspension can be felt more clearly on broke roads at slower speeds. The monsoon marred roads of Mumbai were taken in its stride by the E250 CDI with amazing ease. We drove through some really tattered roads, fit only for SUV’s on our way to the shoot location and the E250 made light work of negotiating the road imperfections, insulating the four occupants substantially from the jarring road surface. Care had to be taken while driving over higher mounds, or deeper potholes owing to the low clearance, but the suspension amazed us with its absorption capabilities. The insulation within the cabin at high speed was another highlight, with no wind or tyre noise audible at on wail laid out surfaces.

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In addition to the new suspension system, the new E-Class also features a Direct-Steer system which comes as standard on all models. The Direct-Steer system has a more direct steering ratio, and reduces the steering effort required while taking tight bends enhancing the car’s agility.

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At speed, the E-class feels extremely planted in a straight line. The new suspension settings have worked toward improving the dynamic character of the car.  The E-Class hasn’t particularly known to be a driver’s delight, but this one invites you behind the steering wheel, and excites the driver in you a fair bit too. There is a wee bit of body roll, but it is well contained as compared with the previous versions. The car holds its line really well, and sharp directional changes at speed are handled without any wiggly movements. The car feels taut and doesn’t mind being thrown around corners at all.

In all, the new E-Class is a significant improvement over its predecessor in terms of both driving dynamics and comfort.

Next Page for details and feature images with captions >>>

2014 Mercedes E250 CDI AvantGarde Details and features images with captions

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The Drive Selector Stalk behind the steering wheel should ideally be between the seats. New drivers may accidentally shift into neutral, thinking of it as an indicator stalk

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The richly appointed door panels could have done with dedicated space for water bottles

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Rear blinds are electrically operated

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E-Class Avantgarde features LED technology for low beam and blinkers, and full LEDs as an option

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Rear A/V vents with temperature and flow control.

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Control dial for COMAND system and toggle button to switch between Efficiency and Sport mode

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The 14 cm high res central screen allows you to control to Infotainment system completely. The pictures show you the various functions available

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Space saver spare

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Classy looking clock above the center console adds an air of classiness to the cabin

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Storage tray under the front seats

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Massive boot can swallow entire family’s luggage for more than just a weekend

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Various readouts on the hi-res Multi Function display within the speedo.

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trans

Conclusion, Price and Tech Specs>>>

Conclusion, Price and Tech Specs

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The new E-Class may be a mid-term facelift, but Mercedes have really worked very hard to make it a much more desirable and capable product over its predecessor. A lot of hard work has gone into making this car an all-rounder, and it shows clearly. While the new exterior makes the new E-Class absolutely stand out in the crowd, the subtle changes on the interior and the solid workmanship make the cabin a special place. We love those new design seats and the quiet inside the cabin.

The added dynamism and driver friendliness is also more than welcome. In its E250 CDI AvantGarde form, the new E-Class has managed to excite and delight us more than the model has in quite a long time. If a graceful sedan with understated sportiness is your definition of a premium executive sedan, than there hardly a way you can go wrong with this version of the E-Class.

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At Rs 45 lakh ex-showroom, the E250 CDI AvantGarde manages to match and undercut some of its rivals as regards price. It’s the absolute winner when it comes to the torque output in its segment and a close second as regards power output. It’s laden with features, is extremely comfortable and boasts a cabin which is built to last an apocalypse. We are impressed with this sedan for good reason, and strongly suggest that you have a look at this model if you are buying into this segment.

Tech Specs

Cylinder arrangement/number

L/4

Displacement (cc)

2143

Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm)

150/204 at 4200

Rated torque (Nm at rpm)

500 at 1600-1800

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)

7.5

Top speed (km/h)

242
Fuel and consumption

Tank capacity/with reserve (l)

80
Suspension and steering

Front tyres/wheels

245/45 R17

Rear tyres/wheels

245/45 R17
Quantity, dimensions & weights

Boot capacity (VDA) (I)

540

Turning circle (m)

10.6

Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) [1]

1800

Perm. GVW (kg)

2280

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2014 Mercedes E-Class 250 CDI AvantGarde Image Gallery

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