Step in to the all-new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and you are immediately presented with a quandary. This is the car, the name, the badge you know – the tenth-generation of a well respected but largely conservative model, that now seems to have decided to let it all out and kick tradition well and truly into the history books.
It’s an impressive feat, combining the familiar sights, sounds and (dare I say) smells of the Mercedes-Benz you expect, with a stunning all-digital widescreen cockpit display that elicits more than a few genuine ‘oh wow’ moments.
And the technology-laden E-Class doesn’t stop there. The dashboard is just the start of a range of high-tech safety, assistance and convenience features that promise to cement the new E-Class as a segment leader.
Mercedes itself suggests the 2017 E-Class is a multi-generation step change, a leap forward into the future of car form and function. In fact there is so much new technology that we would have to split this review into chapters to cover everything!
The car comes with five engine variants in the range. The E200 (135kW / 300Nm 2-litre petrol), E220d (new 143kW / 400Nm 2-litre diesel), E300 (180kW / 370Nm 2-litre petrol), E350d (190kW / 620Nm 3-litre diesel) and the E400 4Matic (245kW / 480Nm 3-litre petrol).
The E350e Hybrid (155kW / 350Nm 2-litre petrol combined with 65kW / 440Nm electric), AMG E43 4Matic and AMG E63 S will follow from 2017 but there are doubts this will be available in Nigeria.
The drag coefficient of the E300 is down to 0.23 (from 0.26), which makes the E-Class more slippery than a Tesla or Toyota Prius – both cars which are fundamentally designed to maximise aero efficiency. For some cool pub-trivia, the Mercedes achieves this by opening and closing vents in the grilles to improve its ‘hole in the air’ signature.
Science aside, the new E is a smart-looking executive sedan, working well in all the colours we saw it in at launch (the dark ‘Kallaite’ green perhaps the only exception).
As noted earlier, though, the interior is where the E-Class has made a break from the mainstream and where its ‘newness’ is most apparent.
The seats themselves are nicely styled and very comfortable. There is excellent adjustment for all driver heights, and we found the seat could be positioned nice and low for a very comfortable driving position. The back seat bench is nicely sculpted, but the legroom isn’t as pronounced as expected, especially considering the car has grown 65mm between the wheels.
There is a neat digital climate control display and 40:20:40 split to access the boot, which is the same as the outgoing model at 540 litres.
Front passenger room and comfort is good and the traditional ‘elastic netting’ map holder on the side of the center console is both a nice touch and another unmistakable trait of the Mercedes experience.
For the driver, though, there are plenty of new things to see and learn, which somehow isn’t as tricky as it sounds.
The elongated iPad-like dashboard is actually a pair of 12.3-inch high-resolution screens (1920 x 720 pixels each – or somewhere between the size of an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus). It is a more impressive and modern-looking implementation than the twin-screens on the S-Class.
Graphics and information rendered on the screens is pin-sharp and driver preference settings can be saved and even exported to USB so you can apply them to another car if you so desire.
The mapping function of Mercedes’ ‘Comand’ infotainment platform still has a few foibles (traffic updates aren’t accurate, navigation instructions can be slow and sometimes unclear), as does the connection of an iPhone for media playback.
It is a big improvement on software seen even in other current Mercedes-Benz models and will only improve as more of the connected capability of the new E-Class is rolled out
As a package, it is modern and new, but still very Mercedes.
As at the last check, the E300 sold for N40m (depending on your dealership). A visit to Tetralog Nigeria, Barbados Cars, M-B Automotive Services, Skymit and Sunny Motors would give a real life experience of the car which made a great first impression and looks to again push the limit of what drivers can expect in terms of safety, technology and luxury in the executive segment.
With five variants and endless technology demonstrations to work through, we didn’t get a huge amount of time to really put the new E-Class to the test.