There are certain cars built to go like hell. There are others built purely for comfort. There are cars built for practicality. And then there are car that are built for the drama that the manufacturer represents. The E-Class has always been a case study for every competitor. It may not have the ferocious power of the BMW 530D, or the bang-for-your-buck attitude of the Audi, but boy does it satisfy you.
Being a power-monger, I have always assumed that the 530D was the best buy in this class. But with the refreshed looks of the E-Class, I began to notice that my allegiances were changing. Ever since the India launch of the vehicle, I had wanted to get my hands on one. That finally worked out for me and i got the car for an hour. I was handed the keys at the Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi, and right when I first gazed at it, the sheer drama of the sun reflecting off the sunroof had me motionless. Without any further delay, let me highlight my experience:
I was allowed to take the car out for a spin only in the posh Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi. The area is clogged with round-abouts and traffic cops at nearly every corner. Given that straight stretches were hard to come by, I could only clock 150km/h. Mercedes say the car will go on to hit 242 km/h (Which is quite a lot really). The acceleration was sublime. I drove it in the Eco, Sport, and Manual mode. 0-100 km/h took me 9 seconds (an involved a rather frustrated BMW 325i driver who attempted to race me). The car can achieve that speed in 8.1 seconds according to the company. The 2.5 L turbo-charged diesel ensures that I guess.
The best part about my drive was how easy the car is to maneuver through thick chunks of traffic. The turning radius is mighty impressive as well. I did not get to test the rear-wheel transmission of the car, but did manage a small power-slide around one if the round-abouts on Nyaya Marg. Funny how the traffic police standing there did not attempt to follow me!
The brakes are a thing of beauty really. Anyone who lives in India’s capital city is bound to have experienced at least one (idiotic) pedestrian crossing over on a green light. The car effortlessly stopped long before the pedestrian would have been under any danger. The Mercedes-Benz witchcraft also meant that I had complete control over the steering while I was slamming on the brakes.
The car that I test drove had beige interiors, which gave it a very business-like look with the black body paint. The sunroof slides over in under 10 seconds, and comes with a chimney-like feature to vent out any odour inside the car. The car’s multimedia system connects to your phone via bluetooth, and USB, and has a great voice-activated control as well. Navigation has been given as an option, but has not been installed yet. Mercedes-Benz will install the system automatically as and when it becomes available.
The exterior is noticeably different from the previous generation E-Class. The biggest change is in the headlamps, which are longer, more banked than the previous model, and have parallel LED’s running through them. The front grille is also changed with the 3-spke badge now lying only on the grille. From the back, we can again see the LED lights. The 17-inch alloys are masterful as well, and the slightly chunkier wheels absorb small bumps very well.
I haven’t driven the BMW 530D yet, which is why calling the E-Class as the segment winner would seem unfair. All I can say is that for the price that you pay, roughly Rs. 57 lakhs (INR), Mercedes’ German counterparts fail to match this proposition. Some would argue that the E-250 caters to a slightly older audience. My only reply to them would be that they should try it before they speak.
The 204BHP, 500Nm torque engine is more than sufficient, and the 7-speed Auto gearbox strikes a good balance between power and fuel economy (16 km/l when tested on the Eco-Mode). What is truly special is the road presence, or street-credit, or whatever you want to call it. The sense of pride accompanying a Mercedes-Benz is what makes a better car than its other rivals. It also has the best looks in its class.
For me then, it was a memorable experience to say the least.
Credits: Mr. Delip Jerath for letting ED use his Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI. (pictured above with the author to his left.)