Mercedes E-class (W213)


Debut: 2016
Maker: Mercedes-Benz
Predecessor: E-class (W212)



 Published on 12 May 2016
All rights reserved. 


The most surprising thing about the new E-class is how close it ressembles the S-class. Its exterior design is almost a clone of the S-class, just made slightly smaller in every dimension. If you park the car between an S-class and a C-class, you will find them just like a set of Russian dolls, i.e. same form and features, just different sizes. Some people might criticize that for lacking individual character. Others, like motoring journalists, are just happy that it saves us tons of words to describe the car.

If you are not used to the new order, you had better to wind back your memory to 30 years ago (if you are old enough). Back then, the 190E, the W124 E-class and the W126 S-class were also Russian dolls. Not just Stuttgart, Munich also employed the same styling strategy for its 3, 5 and 7-Series. I remember how difficult it made a teenager me to distinguish the trio of Mercedes on the road, but I also remember people praised that family resemblance and consistent evolution when compared with the ever-changing Japanese cars, because it helped building brand image. Individual styling character arrived Stuttgart only since the late 1990s, when Mercedes designers deliberately fitted different headlamps to its cars – the C-class got peanut shape headlamps, the E-class got quad-circular lamps and the S-class got irregular-shape ones. Differ for the sake of differ, is it really the essence of styling? I doubt. Russian dolls could be beautiful, especially if the first mold is fundamentally sounded.



Well, if you are not convinced, it is still possible to make your E-class look different by opting for the Avantgarde or AMG line, which features a sportier grille as shown above. In contrast, the S-class is always served with the classical radiator grille and bonnet-mounted 3-pointed star, even on the hottest AMG models. This sportier grille option, however, is shared with the smaller Russian doll. To me, it doesn't matter, because the most important is the new E-class looks a lot more handsome than the last generation, which was angular and clumsy. Despite of that look, the old car still sold incredibly strong until its last year (306,000 units including CLS). The new car with its sleeker shape – as evident in its remarkably low Cd of 0.23 – should sell even better.

Like the S-class and C-class, the chassis of E-class is an aluminum and high-strength steel hybrid. Large sections of the front and rear ends are made of cast aluminum, as are the front suspension tower brackets. Front fenders, bonnet and boot lid are pressed aluminum sheets. Nevertheless, the percentage of aluminum content is not quite as high as its siblings. For example, the doors and roof panels on both S and C-class are made of aluminum, while the E-class remains steel. I think that has very much to do with its another role as German taxi. Traditionally, the E-class is the most profitable model of Mercedes, so Stuttgart is not going to let its production cost unchecked. Overall, the car is about 80 kg heavier than the aluminum-intensive Jaguar XF, but it undercuts BMW 5-Series and Audi A6 a little.



The new car is 43 mm longer than the old one, and its wheelbase is stretched by 65 mm to 2939 mm. Despite that, its sleeker shape means cabin space is about the same as before. Its rear seats are more spacious than Jaguar XF, but compared with BMW and Audi it shows no advantage. Nevertheless, in terms of richness and desirability, this cabin is second to none. Although the square dashboard design is hardly artistic, the expansive, twin-12.3-inch TFT screens it houses are just amazing. As is the entire dashboard architecture, vents and switches, because they look as if coming straight from the S-class! The wood inserts, alloy, lacquer and leather are all high-quality stuffs. The attention to details is just amazing. This is truly a smaller version of S-class inside out!

If you are willing to spend extra, the electronic technology it offers is simply peerless. There are 2 small touch panels on the steering wheel to supplement the usual rotary knob on transmission tunnel, so you can easily navigate through the Comand system without moving your hands away from the steering wheel. The new Drive Pilot system uses radar, stereo cameras and infrared sensors to implement semi-autonomous driving. It can follow the car in front at speeds up to 130 mph, applying throttle, braking and steering automatically. It can read numbers on road signs to avoid speeding. It can read lane markings, fences or cars beside to keep running on the right path. It does everything Tesla’s Auto Pilot does, just in a more reliable way. Besides, as in BMW 7-Series, you can use a bespoke App on your mobile phone to remote control the car to park in a tight parking space.



To drive, however, the E-class is less exciting than an XF or 5-Series. It doesn’t lack speed, but the chassis tuning favours comfort over handling. The suspension hardware is actually very sophisticated – up front, it switches to a new 4-link arrangement which frees the spring strut from control duties and lets it concentrate on shock absorption. At the rear, the familiar multi-link axle has its control arms and wheel carriers made of forged aluminum to save unsprung weight (the front spring struts are also made of alloy). As before, you can choose between two suspension settings, one softer and one stiffer. Optionally, you can have adaptive dampers and multi-chamber air suspension, whose ride height and stiffness are variable. With this feature, the E-class rides with excellent comfort and refinement. In addition to the impressive sound proofing and remarkably low wind noise, nothing in the class can quite match its high-speed cruising refinement. In town, the air suspension in Comfort mode irons out bumps effortlessly, resulting in a fluid ride.

Flick into Sport or Sport+ settings, the car resists roll and understeer well, while ride quality never feels harsh. Like any German luxury cars, it never disappoints in terms of grip, directional stability or braking either. In case of models with lighter 4 cylinder engines, the E-class is also reasonably agile. It steers accurately, if lack of feel. In fact, the steering feels quite remote, and the load it feedbacks to the driver feels artificial. Drive it after the Jaguar XF, the feeling of lack of involvement is even more obvious. The E-class does not adjust its attitude on throttle. It doesn’t feel as agile or as well balanced as the Jaguar either. Its damping is not as tightly controlled. The same can be said when compared with the 5-Series, just at a lesser extent. The Mercedes is not designed for keen drivers, at least until E63 arrives.


The vast range of powertrains consists of mostly carried over engines, such as the 258 hp 3-liter turbo diesel V6 (E350d), the 245 hp (E250) and 184 hp (E200) 2.0 turbo petrol as well as the 333 hp 3.0 V6 twin-turbo V6 (E400) (or 3.5-liter, depending on market). However, good news is the best-selling 2.1-liter iron-block turbo diesel has been replaced with a brand new 2.0-liter all-alloy unit. It produces 194 hp under the bonnet of E220d, enables the car to do 0-60 mph in a remarkable 6.9 seconds and top 143 mph (thanks to the low drag). Most important, in the real world it delivers superior economy over BMW 520d and Jaguar XF 2.0d in a recent comparison test conducted by Autocar – the car averaged 56.8 mpg, versus 48.5 mpg of BMW (Jag was worse still). It was also the fastest to accelerate and the quietest on highway cruise. The new diesel four is also smoother and quieter at idle. A huge improvement over the old engine.

That said, the old diesel V6 of E350d is still the pick of the range, as it is always smoother, its sound track more musical and never gets coarse under push. It will be replaced with a new 3.0 straight-six though, which is a derivative of the 2.0 four. Nice to hear the return of straight-six to Mercedes. No matter which engine, the E-class now has 9G-Tronic gearbox fitted as standard to enhance efficiency and cruising refinement, although it doesn’t always shift as responsively as rivals’ ZF 8-speed auto in a hurry.

Although the new E-class fails to impress those putting driving excitement on high priority, it might appeal to wider audiences with its graceful exterior, expensive interior, superb comfort, efficiency and high-tech features. In the past 14 years, Mercedes lost its direction and tried to follow the sporty path of BMW. Now it has finally found its roots again.
Verdict: 
 Published on 23 Sep 2016 All rights reserved. 
AMG E43


Starting from C43 (previously C450), Mercedes utilizes its higher-tuned 3-liter twin-turbo V6 to create a line of Mercedes-AMG -43 models, which sit between the regular cars and the full-power AMG models. Some people call them fake AMG cars because they and their engines are assembled on the standard production lines without the final touch of AMG technicians. This allows the -43 cars to be produced at larger volume and lower costs, of course.

In most cases the twin-turbo V6 produces 367 horsepower and 383 pound-foot of torque, but in this E43 it is tuned further to make 401 horsepower, thanks to larger turbochargers which produce up to 1.1 bar of boost pressure. Peak torque remains unchanged, but its occurrence is stretched higher the rev at 2500-5000 rpm. This torque is sent to the new 9G-Tronic automatic, whose shift pattern has been quickened, and then to the Mercedes 4matic system, which uses a planetary center differential (with multi-plate clutch limited slip device) to split torque 31:69 front to rear. It sounds promising. In the chassis, the air-sprung suspension is tuned stiffer, accompanied with stiffer bushings, increased negative camber, new steering knuckles and a variable-ratio power steering. The standard 19-inch wheels house 360 mm disc brakes at all corners (20-inch wheels and lower profile tires are optional). Finally, cosmetic tweaks include a sportier front grille and quad-exhaust, very subtle. It is not going to steal the limelight from the forthcoming E63. Oh yes, the E43 is available in both saloon and wagon body to catch more sales.



So how does it perform on the road? Perhaps we are used to the madness of AMG V8s, the V6 is not as explosive as predicted. On the contrary, its power delivery is smooth and linear. There is not much turbo lag low down, but the mid-range delivery is not particularly dramatic, certainly not in the league of Audi S6, BMW 550i or Cadillac CTS Vsport. After all, this is only a 3-liter six. The V6 also sings in a more civilized manner than the AMG V8, although there are still some nice pops and crackles on overrun. Thanks to the extra traction afforded by 4matic, the E43 does 0-60 mph sprint in 4.4 seconds, faster than what you can feel in the car.

The 9-speed automatic transmission is a bit disappointing, sometimes hesitates to respond to your input. For a performance car it is not good enough.

The braking and steering tuning also lack refinement. The former lacks initial bite, while the latter delivers little feel. The variable-ratio rack is also geared too aggressively once you move the wheel off center.

The 4WD system offers bags of grip and traction yet without feeling nose-led, thanks to its rear-biased torque distribution. You can even induce power oversteer as in a rear-drive car if you give it a big and dramatic push. However, the slow turn-in response and average body roll suppression leave you an impression that the air-sprung suspension is perhaps a choice for comfort. Comparatively, the steel springs on C43 react much keener. The E43’s larger dimensions and 150 kg of extra burden also robs it the sharp response enjoyed by its smaller sibling. On the flipside, it rides comfortably, almost as good as the regular E-class. Many Mercedes customers might prefer its comfort-biased tuning under a sporty pretension, but to us its sporty flavour is too thin.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
E220d
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4923 / 1852 / 1468 mm
2939 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1950 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
194 hp
295 lbft
9-speed automatic
F: 4-link
R: multi-link
-
225/55R17

1605 kg
143 mph (c)
6.9 (c)
-
E300 (4matic)
2016
Front-engined, RWD (4WD)
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4923 / 1852 / 1468 mm
2939 mm
Inline-4
1991 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
245 hp
273 lbft
9-speed automatic
F: 4-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
225/55R17

1580 kg (1640 kg)
155 mph (limited)
6.4 (est) (6.5*)
(17.7*)
E350e
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4923 / 1852 / 1468 mm
2939 mm
Inline-4 + electric motor
1991 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
211 hp + 88 hp = 286 hp
258 lbft + 324 lbft = 406 lbft
9-speed automatic
F: 4-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
F: 245/45R18
R: 275/40R18
1850 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.9 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *C&D





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
E350d
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4923 / 1852 / 1468 mm
2939 mm
V6 diesel, 72-degree
2987 cc
DOHC 24 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
258 hp
457 lbft
9-speed automatic
F: 4-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
245/45R18

1725 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.6 (c)
-
E400 4matic
2016
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4923 / 1852 / 1468 mm
2939 mm
V6, 60-degree
3498 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
333 hp
354 lbft
9-speed automatic
F: 4-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
245/45R18

1745 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.0 (c)
-
AMG E43
2016
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4942 / 1860 / 1447 mm
2939 mm
V6, 60-degree
2996 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
401 hp / 6100 rpm
383 lbft / 2500-5000 rpm
9-speed automatic
F: 4-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
F: 245/40ZR19
R: 275/35ZR19
1765 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.4 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





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AMG E43



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