Why I would buy it?
- Rear seat space
- Feature list
why I would avoid it?
- Low-speed ride
- Not the most dynamic to drive
Updates keep the momentum strong and that's pretty much how we would like to sum up the E-Class for this 2021 facelift. Everything that has been added on the inside and outside for this 2021 update now gives the E-Class a nice edge in the segment and this in addition to it being the longest vehicle in the class with the largest amount of rear legroom on offer. On the flip side, the low-speed ride is on the firm side and this E200 that we have here does not get the massage function for the rear seats. However, with whatever has been added, Mercedes has given the E-Class a good boost once again.
Engine and performance
The E-Class that we have reviewed here is the E200 petrol which is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mill producing a 194bhp and 320Nm of torque with power going to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The petrol engine is engaging to drive with a nice powerful punch for quick progress. This quick progress due to the way the 9G-Tronic box shifts giving you optimum punch whenever you need it. There's a minor lag when you mash down but because there’s an ample amount of torque, you can keep the RPMs low and the speeds in three-digits when you need to cover large distances out on the highway. You can even join in the action and control the shifts yourself using the paddle shifters behind the wheel.
Around town and in heavy traffic conditions, the Mercedes 9G-Tronic box is one of the best and usually performs excellently if its left to quietly do its thing in the background. It shifts ratios silently and you never feel the need for wanting more punch for a quick overtake.
Like other cars that make use of this engine, the E200 also gets driving modes; five of them to be precise. They are Eco, Comfort, Sport, sport+ and Individual. Depending on the mode you get sharper responses from the throttle and there are also changes to the way the ESP and traction control respond. Comfort is the best of all modes while Sport+ is useful when you are driving dynamically.
If petrol isn't your thing then there is the entry-level diesel in the E220d which uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that produces 192bhp/400Nm of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Finally, if you want your E-Class with a bit more punch then go for the E350d that has been fitted with a six-cylinder diesel producing 282bhp and a whopping 600Nm of torque going to the rear wheels via the nine-speed automatic.
Ride and handling
Now with cars like the E-Class and especially in this LWB guise, comfort is the key and that's something it's particularly good at. You get McPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup at the rear. The highly coveted airmatic air suspension is only available with the top-spec e350d variant.
The low-speed ride is on the firm side and is quite audible for a luxury car well above the Rs 50 lakh mark. This is very evident if you are going over a rough patch or a particularly large speed breaker. However, it settles down quickly and this is quite important especially if you are someone who has got the car to be chauffeured around town. Pick up the speed and the E-Class ride quality improves significantly with that underlying firmness showing its true purpose in giving the car stability at higher speeds.
There's no getting away from the fact that the E-Class in this LWB guise is a long car with a 5.0-metre length and 3.0-metre wheelbase. This coupled with the ultimate goal of luxury means it's not the most dynamic car to drive.
There's a nice weight to the steering and if you plan your moves well in advance, you get rewarded with a good driving experience. As is the case with most cars of this size, you get some great straight-line stability at three-digit speeds and can munch up the kilometres without struggling. The NVH insulation for the most part is quite impressive and even spending long periods both in the front or rear will not be a tiring experience.
Interior Space and Quality
The highlight of the E-Class in the LWB guise is space for the second-row occupants. Over the standard wheelbase car, you get an additional 140mm space within which is very visible in the second row. This means lots of headroom and legroom for both occupants. To offer a rear-seat experience, you can recline the rear seatback or if you are on the left side, even move the front seat for enough room to stretch out and lounge.
The other main highlight of the rear seat is a removable tablet that runs the same MBUX infotainment system as the massive displays in the front. It also serves as a way for the rear seat occupants to control various functions of the car and let the driver focus on the road.
Other features here include two USB Type-C ports, rear AC vents with their climate zone, sun blinds, centre armrest with cup holders, memory function and even a headrest with adjustable side braces for getting yourself into just the right position.
While the highlight of the E-Class is the second row, its first row doesn’t disappoint either. You get this beige upholstery with this black ash wood trim for the centre console, dashboard as well as all the doors. As is the case with most of the modern Mercedes range, the interior is quite sorted in terms of ergonomics with everything accessible or falling easily to hand. Of course, you can’t talk about the front seats of the E-Class and not mention these massive displays. They are dual 12.3-inch full HD units that serve to display the latest MBUX infotainment system on the left and the instrument cluster on right.
The digital instrument cluster is a marriage of classic Mercedes speedo design with the latest in their technology showcase. All functions are controlled via the steering wheel and it even gets three different display modes each matching the colours and fonts of various generations of Mercedes-Benz instrument cluster designs.
The screen on the left is another 12.3-inch touch display running Mercedes-Benz latest MBUX infotainment system with a plethora of connectivity options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even WiFi connectivity if enabled. Like the instrument cluster, the infotainment screen is bright, intuitive to use and can be controlled via the steering, haptic touchpad, voice commands or directly as it is also a touchscreen.
As a part of the 2021 update, the MBUX system gets a mobile app called Mercedes Me which offers functions like pre-cooling or pre-heating the cabin, choosing the ambient lighting colour, emergency call services, music control and even honking the horn in case you are searching for the car in a crowded place. What’s more, if you are a fan of smart devices, the 2021 update for the MBUX system also includes Google Home and Alexa support. This means you can effectively integrate your E-Class into any smart ecosystem of the future.
Features and Safety
Now this being a Mercedes in the thick of their range you get quite a few features on offer depending on the variant. This includes the likes of power door closing function, three-zone climate control, MBUX infotainment system Alexa/Google Home integration, 64 shade ambient lighting, seat memory function for all four seats and Burmester sound system. All versions of the E-Class get seven airbags, pre-safe technology, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, ABS with EBD, traction control and ESP and even auto park assist.
Conclusion, pricing and competition
The E-Class, in this fifth generation, displayed its competency right from the word go. This mid-life update is, as we have said before, a good boost for the car’s strong offerings and that’s not considering its USP of being an LWB vehicle with the segment-leading rear-seat space. This update puts it right back in the action of the segment once again. The E-Class range is priced from Rs 63.60 lakh to Rs 80.90 lakh (all-India ex-showroom). It rivals the likes of the Audi A6, Jaguar XF, Volvo S90 and BMW 5 Series.
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi