Last week at the beautiful Palmerstown House Estate, Mercedes-Benz introduced their new E-Class to the Irish motoring press. The E-Class, in its tenth generation, has been the flagship model for the luxury German manufacturer since its introduction. To date over 13 million units have been sold. Mercedes expect this new model to continue to be their largest-selling model here in Ireland, a position it has traditionally held. Commenting on the launch, Ciaran Allen, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in Ireland, said that buoyed by an unprecedented level of interest and a bank of pre-launch orders far into treble-digit territory, the new E-Class will play an important role in underpinning the position of Mercedes-Benz as flag-carrier in the luxury segment.
So what is it like? Well at first glance the new E-Class is a sophisticated and stylish looking saloon. It has huge presence about it. This new model is 43mmm longer and yet the coupé-like roofline makes it look that little bit sportier than the outgoing model. Three style and equipment lines are offered – Avantgarde, Exclusive and AMG. As before, buyers can choose between models with a bonnet-mounted star and louvered grille favoured by regular E-Class owners or one with grille inset star likely to appeal to more sporty buyers. Personally I’d go for the latter.
The interior styling is put together with the usual high quality materials for which Mercedes-Benz is renowned. Highlights include new sculptured seats designed for long journeys. The armrests in the doors and centre console are heated and drivers can choose between any one of sixty-four interior LED lighting colours. Optionally available are two high-resolution 12.3inch display screens (a first in the segment) and three different wide-screen instrument cluster styles. A wide choice of materials and colour combinations gives owners scope to ‘individualise’ their own interior. It is the first car ever to feature touch-sensitive finger swipe buttons on the steering wheel which the driver can use to control the infotainment system while keeping both hands on the steering wheel. Mobile phones with the inductive charge facility can be charged and connected with no need for cables or a telephone holder. It’s worth noting too that the entry level Avantgarde model is equipped with over €7,000 worth of standard features compared to the outgoing version. Included is Parking Pilot parking assist, heated front seats, full leather upholstery, reversing camera, LED static lights, satellite navigation, mirror pack, ambient lighting, stowage pack, ‘through loading’ feature, seat comfort pack, alarm pack and a ‘connect me’ function.
It gets a completely new engine on which Mercedes-Benz spent some €2.6billion in development costs. This new engine delivers a 17% weight reduction, lower fuel consumption (3.9 litres/100Km combined), lower C02 (102g/km), increased horsepower (194 HP), 400Nm of torque and lower road tax (€190). The main focus here in Ireland will be the E220d Avantgarde Automatic which comes in at €52,850 ex works. That’s actually €850 cheaper than the equivalent outgoing model. The E350d version is priced at €66,900. All models come equipped with the 9G Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission. I enjoyed a short drive in the new E-Class and I must say it was incredibly pleasant. The engine and gearbox are very smooth and progress is effortless. Further model variants to follow in time will include an E350e hybrid and a powerful V6 E350d.
Safety has been a huge consideration for Mercedes and amongst its standard fitments is Active Brake Assist, providing support during emergency braking, Attention Assist with adjustable sensitivity to alert the driver to inattentiveness or drowsiness and Crosswind Assist, which mitigates the effects of strong crosswinds. An optional Driver Assistance package offers a further suite of safety features that Mercedes-Benz claims makes the E-Class the most intelligent saloon in its class, one being a system that moves the driver or front passenger away from the danger zones when an imminent lateral collision is detected. Another safety innovation is a sound warning that triggers reflexes and prepares occupants if the risk of a collision is detected.
The new E-Class has the potential to be a huge success for Mercedes-Benz and could well cement their position firmly at the top of the luxury/premium segment. Either way it’s a car which I am looking forward to testing further in the coming months.