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CAR OF THE WEEK: Mercedes E-Class a return to serenity

April 5th, 2024 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

CAR OF THE WEEK: Mercedes E-Class a return to serenity Image

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THE E-Class nameplate has been around since 1993, but can trace its pedigree back 40 years earlier, when the ‘e’ was a suffix denoting fuel injection. As the best-selling car ever in the Mercedes-Benz models line-up, the mid-size E-Class is now in its sixth generation and has long been an aspiration car not just to potential owners, but for competing premium brands seeking space in its market.

For me, a recent review period in the latest E-Class was both a return to luxury and one of those few opportunities in these crossover and electric times to be behind the wheel of a diesel saloon. There was something really nice about that. Maybe even a preview of nostalgic, as the electric equivalent EQE is seriously trying to steal the combustion version’s lunch in sales so far this year.

The E-Class styling has since 2009 been svelte and each succeeding generation has honed that theme further. This has made the car seem smaller than it used to be, although that’s factually not the case. My review car in dark grey had optional 19-inch alloys, and chrome detailing from an Exclusive line upgrade, which together subtly enhanced the overall elegance of the car.

Inside the E-Class is both elegance and luxury, with ivory leather upholstery tempered by grey and black trim details. The dashboard has an overall clean shaping, the driver and infotainment screens separate and well integrated into the scheme. A panel on the passenger side had a stylised pattern of the Mercedes star which has a somewhat dazzling effect, not appreciated by one of my fellow travellers. Rear passengers have as much, if not more space than us up front, and there’s a good boot capacity for the needs of a full people complement.

The ergonomics are in general very good, and the controls on the steering wheel are well marked and intuitive. Mercedes-Benz has worked hard to make the graphical interfaces on its screens bright, clear and not requiring much menu-hopping — I did appreciate very much the single button that got me to the driver assist screen so I could adjust those to my preferences before driving off.

The 2.0 diesel in my review car was, unsurprisingly, a very quiet motor. The 9-speed automatic is of Mercedes-Benz’s own design and production and thus there is an excellent match to the engine. Nothing else to say except that the performance is serene. With 197hp standard and the availability of 23hp more and appropriate extra torque when the mild-hybrid electric motor assists, there’s power enough to give a reasonable 7.6 seconds sprint to 100km/h if wanted. In reality, one just drives in appreciation of the smooth rather than being swift.

With crossover-SUV formats accounting for almost half of car sales in Europe last year, the saloon car appears to be a dying design. Yet there is still a place for the type particularly in the premium segments, so perhaps I’ll have the occasional opportunity to enjoy them for a while. But with premium pricing, that’s a rarity for most.

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