New executive saloon to major on tech and build quality
11 January 2009

The new Mercedes E-class, launched this week at the Detroit motor show and due on sale in the UK in March, promises class-leading comfort and safety.

The new Mercedes E-class will also have to rescues the model’s image, which has been damaged by years of electrical faults and build quality issues. Mercedes-Benz has made major improvements to the model’s reliability in recent years, but the E-class has never regained the bulletproof reputation it enjoyed in the late 1980s.

The exterior design of the Mercedes E-class doesn’t break any new ground, as is fitting for a car that traditionally sells to more conservative buyers. The new Mercedes E-class mixes S-class and C-class styling cues, especially in the proportions of the front end and the shapes of the rear wheel arches, with a recognisably E-class profile. It’s larger than the current car.

To begin with, the Mercedes E-class will come with a choice of four diesel and four petrol engines. A new four-cylinder diesel motor will come in three guises: the 201bhp, 369lb ft E250, the 168bhp E220 and the 134bhp E200. Mercedes claims that all three units emit 139g/km and return up to 53.3mpg. The range-topping diesel is the V6 E350, which has 228bhp and is capable of 40.9mpg.

A new four-cylinder petrol engine powers the E200 and E250 CGI, while the E350 and E500 models remain. The E63 AMG, due towards the end of the year, will have 518bhp.

All Mercedes E-classes except the V8s come with BlueEfficiency technology as standard. This package of fuel-saving devices, including a new stop-start system and a disconnecting power steering pump, helps to improve the new car’s fuel economy by 3mpg.

More impressive is the fact that Mercedes has managed to achieve a drag coefficient of 0.25, making the E-class the most aerodynamically efficient car on sale today.

The new Mercedes E-class comes with Mercedes’ latest safety kit, most notably Attention Assist, which not only monitors a driver’s behaviour to detect drowsiness, but also builds a profile of the driver and uses this to compare actual behaviour with expected behaviour to detect potential drowsiness. Improved automatic braking and night vision systems from the S-class will also be available as options.

Inside, there’s an all-new cabin, which uses much of the design established by the C-class and is considerably less glitzy than the current car’s.

The gear selector on seven-speed automatic models is now on a steering column-mounted stalk, and there’s a starter button on the dashboard. The car uses Jaguar XF-style downlighting on the fascia and in the door trims.

Three trim levels will be available. Entry-level SE spec comes with 16-inch alloys, cloth upholstery and Bluetooth. Avantgarde gets xenon headlights, lowered suspension, the interior downlighting and a chromed grille. And Sport comes with an AMG-styled body kit, with sports seats inside.

Dan Stevens

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

The E-Class is a refined and relaxing return to old Mercedes qualities

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