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    2017 Mercedes-Benz E350d LWB Road Test Review


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    Sagar Bhanushali

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    Mercedes-Benz E-Class Exterior

    Introduction

    Take a good look around the cabin of the new Mercedes E350d and you can be forgiven for thinking that you are seated in the range-topping S-Class. It’s rather difficult to imagine you are missing out on extra comfort or luxury as you scan through the beautifully put together trim pieces and the extensive feature list. That’s simply because Mercedes has not just pushed the boundaries of the E’s technology and luxury but also created a new sub-segment in the country by introducing the 2017 E-Class in long-wheel base guise.

    Say hello to the new E350d, a mid-size luxury sedan that thinks it’s a limousine.

    It’s more elegant than what we are used to from the E-Class. It’s more luxurious and certainly more substantial than before, but just how good is it as the ultimate mid-size chauffeur-driven sedan?

    Design and Style

    The E350d LWB may appear unassuming at first glance – especially in the conservative silver paint of our test car – but once you get around it, there is simply no hiding the sheer length of this vehicle. Measuring over 5m (5063mm, in fact) in length and with a wheelbase stretching upto 3079mm, the new E looks like it means business. Styling wise, it borrows heavily from the S-Class to achieve that low-slung, classically handsome stance. That elongated hood paired with all-LED headlights and the rather sporty looking front bumper all add up to give the new E plenty of presence for the status-seekers.

    As the only long-wheelbase vehicle in its class, the E350d appears significantly longer than all its rivals, when viewed in profile. The longer wheelbase exhibits itself in the stretched roofline and the new rear quarter glass which Mercedes has integrated into the C-pillar. The favourable ratio of overhangs to wheelbase also adds to the limo-like stance. The only let-down here is the 10-spoke, 17-inch wheels which look a size too small for such a large car.

    At the tail end, that deep shoulder line tapers faintly towards the rear wheel arch to cut some of the mass. Now, even though they remind us of the C and the S, the taillights with their two-bar design are really striking as they gel well with the bulging boot lid.

    Interiors

    Inside, there’s a different story to be told. Where one might say that the exterior look of the new E is a little restrained, the interior is supremely comforting, trimmed with quality materials and more luxurious than you might expect. The cabin has the same lavish appearance of the S-Class, meaning you get the same wide sweep of metallic trim from door to door and those gorgeously finished circular air vents. What’s also impressive is the multi-layer dash which is capped in stitched leather and dominated by a massive 12.3-inch display. More on that later though.

    It all looks good, but it feels even better once you are seated and settled in. Despite the all-black upholstery of our test car, the insides felt big and very spacious. Upfront, the driving position is excellent, with seats that are hugely supportive and beautifully trimmed. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good in the hand and the ergonomic strong points of the newer Mercedes cabins make their presence felt in the E350d as well. That said, this cabin isn’t as ergonomically sound as that of its rivals in the same class and the centre console layout, especially, is a little difficult to comprehend at first.

    It’s a fairly straightforward process then, to make yourself comfortable once you are ensconced upfront. But given that this car is all about the back seat experience, it makes sense to jump into them straightaway. For the chauffeur-driven crowd, the new E-Class is probably the best mid-size luxury offering simply because of the tremendous amount of legroom. As for the rear seats, they are unashamedly super-plush with more than enough thigh support and just about perfect cushioning. Then there’s the electrically adjustable backrest and the seat base, for those wanting tailor-made levels of comfort. We particularly liked the pillow-like extensions to the rear headrests – they help a great deal in reducing fatigue over long-distance trips, as we found out. The only thing missing in here is cup holders – a big miss considering how focused this car is in pampering its rear seat occupants.

    All in all, the cabin is predictably very spacious, with limo-like headroom and legroom and it’s safe to say the new E is apt for both business meets and weekend escapades, especially if you’re the kind who spends plenty of time in the back seat.

    Interiors

    Inside, there’s a different story to be told. Where one might say that the exterior look of the new E is a little restrained, the interior is supremely comforting, trimmed with quality materials and more luxurious than you might expect. The cabin has the same lavish appearance of the S-Class, meaning you get the same wide sweep of metallic trim from door to door and those gorgeously finished circular air vents. What’s also impressive is the multi-layer dash which is capped in stitched leather and dominated by a massive 12.3-inch display. More on that later though.

    It all looks good, but it feels even better once you are seated and settled in. Despite the all-black upholstery of our test car, the insides felt big and very spacious. Upfront, the driving position is excellent, with seats that are hugely supportive and beautifully trimmed. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good in the hand and the ergonomic strong points of the newer Mercedes cabins make their presence felt in the E350d as well. That said, this cabin isn’t as ergonomically sound as that of its rivals in the same class and the centre console layout, especially, is a little difficult to comprehend at first.

    It’s a fairly straightforward process then, to make yourself comfortable once you are ensconced upfront. But given that this car is all about the back seat experience, it makes sense to jump into them straightaway. For the chauffeur-driven crowd, the new E-Class is probably the best mid-size luxury offering simply because of the tremendous amount of legroom. As for the rear seats, they are unashamedly super-plush with more than enough thigh support and just about perfect cushioning. Then there’s the electrically adjustable backrest and the seat base, for those wanting tailor-made levels of comfort. We particularly liked the pillow-like extensions to the rear headrests – they help a great deal in reducing fatigue over long-distance trips, as we found out. The only thing missing in here is cup holders – a big miss considering how focused this car is in pampering its rear seat occupants.

    All in all, the cabin is predictably very spacious, with limo-like headroom and legroom and it’s safe to say the new E is apt for both business meets and weekend escapades, especially if you’re the kind who spends plenty of time in the back seat.

    Safety and Equipment

    Globally, the new E-Class is drawing a whole load of buyers away from its competitors thanks to its full suite of safety and semi-autonomous driving features. Sadly, this India-spec model misses out on self-driving ability and a few essential features. What it does get though are full LED headlights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, 64-color ambient lighting, key-less go, panoramic roof, electric sun blinds for rear windows and a three zone climate control. Mercedes is also offering 360 degree camera view, 7 airbags, ESP, ABS, tyre pressure sensor and adaptive brake lights.

    The new E-Class borrows some of its hardware from the S-Class, including its 12.3-inch main display for the COMMAND infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Oddly enough, the display isn’t a touchscreen unit, defeating the whole purpose of having smartphone mirroring tech as it works best with touch inputs. The instrument console, too, houses the traditional dials instead of the entirely digital instrument panel that’s offered in other markets. That said, what’s unique to the new E are the touchpads on the steering wheel to control bits and bobs of the infotainment system and the dials. It can all get a little overwhelming at first, what with the entirely revised COMMAND system and the touch sensitive jog dial and buttons on the wheel, but the more you use the interface, the more intuitive it gets.

    Engine, Performance and Braking

    Power for the new E350d comes from Mercedes’ long-running 2987cc, V6 diesel engine. Already used in a number of other cars wearing the three pointed star, this turbocharged motor produces 255bhp of power and a solid 620Nm of pulling power. What’s even more impressive is the fact that all that torque is twisted out from as low as 1,600rpm, making low speed progress incredibly flexible and stress free. Around town, the E offers oodles of low-end punch and considering that most of the torque stays right until 3,000rpm, it spears along in a nonchalant manner even when you put your foot down. Admittedly, the engine is a little noisy compared to Audi’s six-cylinder diesel but it doesn’t have as much lag down low in the rev range. The way it picks up speed is almost un-diesel-like, with linear delivery in the low to mid-range.

    The E350d feels just at home while cruising on the highways. 9-speeds and strong reserves of torque make it hard to beat as a relaxing, long-distance express. If anything, the E is deceptively quick even above triple digit speeds and is as impressive behind the wheel as it is when you have got your backrest angle just right in the rear.

    In our acceleration tests, the big limo blitzed past the 100kmph mark from standstill in just 6.86 seconds and 150kmph in an equally impressive 13.69 seconds. The acceleration, then, is surprisingly brisk, aided by the slick-shifting 9-speed automatic gearbox which does its work with precision regardless of how close to the redline you are working the motor. Even under regular driving conditions or part throttle, it remains smooth and rarely hunts between gears despite so many ratios. The gearbox’s quick response is evident when we look at the in-gear timings – 20-80kmph in third takes 3.98 seconds whereas 40-100kmph in fifth is dispatched in just 4.88 seconds (both subjected to kick-down).

    Despite the substantial footprint and heft, shedding speed in the E-Class is reassuring – the brakes feel strong with no signs of grabbiness at low speeds. Even under hard braking, the pedal has a decent, gradual travel.

    Ride and Handling

    Ride compliance and comfort matters the most in cars like the E LWB and the Mercedes leaves a pretty good impression with the way it rides. Featuring the latest form of Merc’s air suspension as standard, the E350d’s behaviour differs vividly over bumps and potholes, depending on what mode you are in. In Comfort, for instance, the suspension is brilliant at isolating those in the cabin from bumps and sharp ridges at slow speeds. That said, at highway speeds there is so much of vertical movement and lightness to the ride that one is bound to switch to Sport or Sport+. In either of the latter, the E manages to sponge away road imperfections with a hint of stiffness but with superb authority nonetheless.

    Given its sheer length, the E LWB is prone to scrape its belly over large speed humps. Fortunately, the ride height can be increased by up to 15mm at the touch of a button besides the COMMAND dial. Now it may not sound much but 15mm of additional clearance can make a world of difference when driving in a city riddled with speed humps. What also impresses is the noise suppression at speed. Road noise from the 245-section Goodyear tyres is kept at bay while wind noise is also controlled well. However, the cabin isn’t entirely hushed as there is a tiny amount of diesel clatter pretty much all the time.

    The new E is certainly easier to navigate around town than its length might initially indicate. The steering is adequately weighted across slow to medium speeds and is light enough to muscle the vehicle when parking. You will never really forget how long this car is but it sure shrinks around you the more time you spend behind the wheel. Over fast sweeping corners, the E remains planted although the steering can get a little heavy as you begin to apply some lock – but you would have to be pushing hard for that to come into play.

    Price and Fuel Economy

    Mercedes is offering the new E-Class with both petrol and diesel engine options, namely E200 and E350d. The E200 is priced at Rs 59.02 lakh whereas the E350d can be yours for Rs 73.01 lakh. The reason for the big price gap can be found when you compare the standard equipment list on both – the E200 makes do without the fancy air suspension, 360 degree camera and the 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system.

    As for the fuel economy, the big E returned 10.76kmpl in the city and 18.4kmpl on the highway – figures that are mighty impressive for a vehicle this big. The highway efficiency is no doubt aided by 9 speeds and effortless cruising ability of the strong V6 motor.

    Verdict

    Does the E-Class LWB address the needs of the comfort-seeking industrialists who are fascinated by the latest in in-car technology? It certainly does. If you can look past all the missing features (compared to the Euro-spec model) and the understated design, there is a lot to like about this car in all other scenarios. As a pure chauffeur-driven car, the new E has a lot going for it as the competition has gotten fairly old and it’s truly brand new, not to mention equally unique given its long-wheelbase form.

    The effortless performance, the sense of comfort and opulence and the sold build quality that Mercedes is synonymous with, is all there. The E-Class LWB is every bit the limo and if you are in the market for a set of wheels that can be a reflection of your status and success, the E350d is probably it.

    Pictures by Kapil Angane

    Click here for on-road prices, specifications and feature-list of the 2017 E-Class range.

    Specification

    CAR NAME Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    Variant E350d
    ENGINE
    Fuel Diesel
    Installation Front, Longitudinal
    Displacement 2987cc V6
    Bore/stroke 83mm/92mm
    Valve gear 4 valves per cyl
    Power 258bhp at 3400rpm
    Torque

    620Nm at 1650rpm

    Power to weight 132.9bhp per tonne
    Torque to weight 319Nm per tonne
    Gearbox 9-speed auto
    CHASSIS & BODY
    Kerb weight 1940kg
    Tyres (F/R) 245/45 R17/ 245/45 R17
    Spare Space-saver
    STEERING
    Type Rack and pinion
    Type of assist Electric
    Turning circle 5.3m
    BRAKES
    Front Discs
    Rear Discs
    Anti-lock Yes

    Test Data

    CAR NAME Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    Variant E350d
    PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
    0-20kph 1.24s
    0-40kph 2.22s
    0-60kph 3.43s
    0-80kph 4.93s
    0-100kph 6.86s
    0-120kph 9.22s
    20-80kph in 3rd gear 3.98s
    40-110kph in 5th gear 4.88s
    80-0kph -
    FUEL ECONOMY
    City 10.76kmpl
    Highway 18.4kmpl
    Tank size 80-litres
    Range 770km
    INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS
    Front
    Legroom(Max/min) 850/610mm
    Headroom(Max/min) 890/970mm
    Shoulder room 1470mm
    Backrest height 630mm
    Rear
    Legroom(Max/min) 960/700mm
    Ideal legroom 820mm
    Headroom 890mm
    Shoulder room 1410mm
    Seat base length 490m
    Backrest height 570mm
    Boot
    Length/width/height 990/1100/470mm
    Loading lip height 670mm
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