Two decades ago, a resplendent W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class started its journey in India. Since then, it has managed to multiply itself 34,000 times over, where each rolling example has proudly ferried elite aesthetes inside its well molded metal confines, layered with hide and wood. Rewarding the loyalties of such minted patrons is a tough task. But with the introduction of the 10th E-Class, Mercedes-Benz has ensured that those starry eyes twinkle even more and leave a lengthy trail of admiration behind. We were in Goa to say hello to the made in, and only for India, RHD version of the W213, long wheel base Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Here’s what our stretched out limbs and minds came back with after spending a day out with the car.
Rear Seat Comfort
It is unusual for us to begin a review describing an aspect of the motorcar, we’re usually not keen to experience. And motoring journalists seldom begin their stint with a car, choosing to laze around in the back seat, rather than salivating behind the wheel. But with the new E-Class, every person who was out there to sample the machine, reached out for that rear door handle. The reason? Reclining rear seats, living room like leg space, and a well appointed cabin that levitated above its contact patches (Read Air Suspension).
So we pulled a robust door which swivels out feeling authoritatively weighty and stepped inside (No S-Class like soft close function here). Settled in a supremely comfortable seat, the first thing that we noticed is the vast expanse of legroom that stretched out beyond our feet. Then, our vision locked on to a switch which can recline the backrest for 34 degrees, and immediately, it got pulled back to a position where a super comfy headrest pampered the head, and the frame rested in a brilliantly cushioned seat. Every inch of my human body that stretched until the knee felt articulately in contact with the well appointed surface of the rear seat.
It was then that we noticed other niceties like the large central arm rest, which sadly misses out on cup holders, but tries to make up with a power socket inside.
A window control panel, which is also where one-touch switches for the rear and side sun blinds reside. Almost ready for a nap, we were lazily appreciating the new age cabin lighting and that enormous panoramic sunroof, when the guy at the wheel gunned it, and our guts could feel the leap in velocity.
Back seat comfort took a back seat, the guy in the driver’s seat was asked to leave and we were now in the right seat, fiddling with this big Merc’s driving modes.
At first, we thought it seemed out of character for a car of this size and to even have a ‘Sports+’ driving mode. But it did, so we flicked the switch to engage it, and what a revelation it turned out to be. The air suspension tautens itself, the steering puts on some weight, and upshift points move into the 4000-4500 clicks territory if the right pedal’s kissing the bodywork. There is a strong wave of torque which kicks in properly near the 2000 rpm mark and it makes this large mass of metal and rubber hustle in an amazingly swift manner. The 3.0-liter diesel V6 revs clean and makes its peak power of 255 bhp at 3400 rpm. Peak torque of 620 newtons starts building at 1600 rpm and tails off at 2400 rotations. It is quiet otherwise, unless you dial up the wick, and then you do know that there’s something under the hood propelling things.
The motor is married to Mercedes’ 9G tronic gearbox, which shifts seamlessly and intelligently on its own and even when you make it sing through the steering mounted pedals. We would’ve liked it to kick down a little eagerly though when it has settled into its higher ratios and you summon the pedal to hurry things up.
Apart from Sport+, there’s Sport, Comfort, Eco and Individual modes, the latter allowing you to set various driving parameters according to taste.
Eco mode activates the Start/Stop function, which switches off the motor when the car is at a standstill and injects it back to life when your foot comes off the brake.
Among all those though, unless you wish to adjust the ‘Individual’ mode according to taste, ‘Sport’ mode sets the air suspension to provide an optimum level of damping, even if you’re in the backseat.
Turning the switch to ‘Comfort’ made things too supple and cushy to our liking. Some might like it though, as it gels well with the limo like traits of this new ‘E’. Pushed forward by the punchy motor, the E-Class LWB can breach the 100 kph mark from standstill in 6.6 seconds, while top speed has been capped at 250 kph.
For those who’d miss an all-digital instrument cluster
Boot-space is decent for a car of this size. Space saver eats into quite some space, although at least it exists
Don’t even try finding a button. Shutting the boot lid down is a manual affair
Front center armrest gets USB slots and an SD card reader
B-pillar mounted AC vent helps cooling down that rather large rear area effectively
Ride & Handling
Mercedes likes to think that most people buying into this segment of motorcars are mostly chauffeur driven. And they’re quite right. As a result, this new LWB E-Class focuses most of its energies towards passenger comfort, rather than driving dynamics. That V6 diesel will make you smile though if your chauffeur takes ill some day.
The steering for instance. It would otherwise be called lifeless and something which gives you no feedback of what lies beneath. In the E-Class though, I like the isolated nature of that wheel and how it fits in right with the what the car tries to achieve. Then there’s the air suspension which largely isolates the cabin from what the rather healthily profiled run flat tyres have to deal with, except bigger bumps and undulations which are felt through, as the built for Europe equipment fights hard with the kind of surfaces India has to offer. It makes the car glide like a flying mat on good roads though. There’s a switch which increases ride height by 15mm from the standard 120mm clearance, which made the car drive over fairly tall humps without creating a 5th contact patch.
Because that motor inside the E 350 d can make the car get up to speeds pretty quick, even with that mammoth wheelbase and mushy suspension, the chassis maintains a confident poise at high speeds. However, in ‘Comfort’ mode, it is nowhere in the same ballpark as being called sharp, marshmallowing itself around corners and bends. But ‘Sport’ mode makes things more perky when you start missing that slight amount of firmness that is required.
The W213’s cabin feels rich and opulent, replete with a 13-speaker Burmester sound system, artico leather seats and wood inserts. An Ambient lighting system spoils the kid inside you to an all-new level, dishing out 64 different shades you can pick from. However, instrumentation on the E-Class in India is a twin dial setup, unlike the all-digital setup available elsewhere. We like it that way though.
The 12.3-inch COMAND system screen looks crisp and vivid, but lacks touch. And Mercedes has added two touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, which can be used to jog between options on the central display and the MID respectively.
There’s another jog dial and a touchpad on the ceter console too. The Entertainment system is now Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and the sound output through that high-quality 590W system is just shy of the even better setup that comes fitted on the S-Class.
The front chairs are supremely comfortable and adjustable in many ways, and so is the pint sized AMG inspired wheel which is a joy to hold and has been layered in top notch materials.
There’s a 3-zone climate control system, where the rear passengers can also enjoy some breeze through B-pillar mounted vents, but none of the seats in the cabin get a cooling, heating or massage function.
There’s an army of cameras on the E-Class’ exteriors, and along with the parktronic system, they do help a lot while maneuvering this really long car in tight spaces.
One can pick from a palette of 64 shades for the Ambient lighting
What Mercedes likes to call ‘Crystal Look’
7 Airbags are standard
Rear passengers get individual vanity mirrors with lights
No 4-zone climate control on this ‘E’
10-spoke wheel pattern isn’t striking. But looks almost alright
The new E-Class fits in just right in new family look scheme of things, its design now bearing a lot of resemblance to the new S and C-Class sedans. The all-LED front headlights do have some link to the W212, but DRL inserts have lost a lot of their angles in favor of a clawed appearance.
Ridges on the bonnet have become more subtle, and the large grille has sobered down its pout somewhat. The bumpers now appear sportier, thanks a uniform honeycomb pattern that stretches throughout, without any break in pattern, where a chrome lined chin underscores the sight.
It is sideways though, where the LWB W213 will find its fan base. That seriously long >3m wheelbase is regally accessorized by a crisp crease that runs along the car’s shoulder line. The car’s overall limo like length of 5063 mm is impressive and draws serious attention from onlookers.
The rear gets twin pipes to diffuse all the gases coming from the V6 diesel, while Mercedes likes to describe the tail lamps as all LED ‘Crystal Look’ units.
Summing it up
The new Merceds Benz E-Class has set the standards of comfort too high for its rivals to play catch up. The way we look at it, if being pampered in luxury is what you’re after, the E-Class LWB has no competition for now in its segment. For an expected price of about 65-70 lakh that you’d spend on this car, you’d get a lot of ‘S’, for the money that you’d spend on an ‘E’. That punchy motor presents a strong enough case for the car, even for those who’d occasionally love to be behind the wheel. But the new E-Class rightfully ticks all the wants an Indian consumer demands from a car of this class.
Is it long? Yeeeesssss
Is it comfortable? Supremely
Does it have presence? Mighty
Is it well made? Definitely
Is it a Mercedes? Certainly