|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
you park the car between an S-class and a C-class, you will find them
just like a set of Russian dolls.
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,
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.
or AMG line features a sportier grille.
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.
percentage of aluminum content is not quite as high as C and S-class.
This might have very much to do with its another role as German taxi.
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
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.
terms of richness and desirability, this cabin is second to none.
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.
doesn’t lack speed, but the chassis tuning favours comfort over
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
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.
||All rights reserved.
| AMG E43
call them fake AMG cars as they are assembled on the standard
production lines without the final touch of AMG technicians...
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.
we are used to the madness of AMG V8s, the V6 is not as explosive as
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
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
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.
||All rights reserved.
| E-class Coupe
E-class Coupe finally returns to its roots as a true mid-size coupe...
1968, Mercedes introduced its first mid-size coupe, 250CE, based on the
contemporary W114 series sedan, which was the ancestor of today's
E-class. It was renowned for elegant style, high build quality,
reliability, refinement and comfort, i.e. all the core values of
Mercedes-Benz. Afterwards, Stuttgart built 2 more generations of CE
coupe based on W123 and W124
series, both achieved the same reputation. In 1997, the mid-size coupe
line was replaced with the smaller CLK-class in an attempt to boost
sales. By 2009, the E-class Coupe
was reborn. However, despite its visual links to the E-class, it was
actually built on the C-class platform, lacking the accommodation,
quality and luxury expected for its nameplate. Neither was it handsome
nor dynamically competent enough to catch attention. No wonder we
see that car on streets.
Thankfully, the new E-class Coupe has returned to its roots as a true
mid-size coupe. It is derived straight from the current E-class
platform, so it should fill the gap between C-class Coupe and S-class
Coupe nicely. Size-wise, it is considerably larger than the old car, of
course. It is 123mm longer, 74mm wider and 113mm longer in wheelbase.
However, compared with its sedan sister, it is made a bit smaller. The
wheelbase is shortened by 66mm to a still generous 2873mm, while
overall length is 94mm shorter. It is 7mm wider and 38mm lower than the
sedan due to its sportier stance. Despite the shrinkage in size, it is
25 to 30 kg heavier than the sedan, blame to the need to reinforce its
chassis to compensate for the loss of B-pillars. Like the sedan, the
chassis comprises of both high-strength steel and aluminum. The latter
includes front and rear crash structures, the front shock tower
brackets, bonnet, front fenders and trunk lid.
its slippery shape, the coupe is actually less aerodynamic efficient
than its sedan sister...
despite its slippery shape, the coupe is actually less aerodynamic
efficient than its sedan sister. An entry-level E200 Coupe has a drag
coefficient of 0.27, versus the sedan's 0.23. Top-of-the-range E400
Coupe returns 0.29, compared with 0.27 of the sedan. As a result, don't
expect the coupe to be any faster. Like many modern 4-seat coupes, its
key attraction is styling instead, which is undoubtedly far more
successful than the last
generation. A streamline shape, lower roofline and faster screens make
handsome. Frameless windows and hardtop design lighten its visual
weight a lot, although it would have been even better if not the
presence of rear quarter windows – it needs them to make a slim
C-pillar and power rear windows compatible. Meanwhile, the deletion
of B-pillars paves the way for the forthcoming Cabriolet. None of these
are revolutionary ideas, but the new E-class Coupe is certainly very
well finished, just
like many other Mercedes designed under Gorden Wagener.
Unsurprisingly, the cabin is noticeably more spacious than the old
car’s. The front seats offer 18mm more headroom and 50mm more shoulder
room, while the rear seats provide 74mm more knee room, 15mm more
headroom and 34mm more shoulder room. This means, guys up to 6ft 1 or
2in can finally stretch their legs at the rear seats, although they may
find their heads very close to the sloping roof liner.
up to 6ft 1 or 2 can finally stretch their legs at the rear seats.
The dashboard and most of the interior parts are shared with the sedan.
This means its build quality, material, technology and sense of luxury
are simply top notch – not even Audi can match. The expansive,
twin-12.3-inch TFT screens dominating the entire dashboard is standard
on E400 or optional on lesser models. While its shape is hardly
artistic, its fancy graphics can more than make up the loss. The
extensive material and decor choices make you feel as proud as a
customer of Rolls-Royce. How can Mercedes manage such a sense of
exclusivity on a coupe costing £40,000 to £50,000?
The luxury feel extends to the way the car drives. Just like the
E-class sedan, it is not about driving thrills, steering feel or
interactive chassis. If you buy the E400 Coupe, you should take a more
laid-back attitude, allowing the creamy and torquey twin-turbo V6 to do
the job behind the scene, and the air suspension to soak up the bumps
on highway. Inevitably, there is more wind and tire noises entering the
cabin through the frameless windows, but the E400 Coupe is still a
Should you want to test its performance envelop, it is unlikely to
disappoint. The 333hp V6 allows 0-60 mph to be accomplished in 5
seconds dead. The 4matic system, mandatory on the E400 and optional on
others, uses a permanent torque split of 45:55 to guarantee superb
traction, and its beefy tires, 245mm up front and 275mm at the rear,
provide bags of grip. Since this is a Mercedes, it is default to
understeer mildly. The traction and grip always overwhelm the power in
the dry. The suspension is 15mm lower than the sedan’s, so the coupe is
slightly better in body control. With the air suspension set to Sport
mode, there is very little body roll to speak of. The electric power
steering is precise and well weighted, but as in the E-class sedan it
delivers little feel.
like the E-class sedan, it is not about driving thrills, steering feel
or interactive chassis.
Want more excitement? Let’s hope the forthcoming AMG E50 Coupe to be a
better driver’s car. Its all-new 3-liter straight-six (yes,
straight-six returns!) is served with an exhaust gas turbo and an
electric turbo to produce 408hp. Even so, the E-class Coupe is not
going to receive a full-blooded AMG makeover, because its chassis is
not rigid enough.
Lower down the range, there are E200 (184hp 2.0 turbo petrol), E220d
(194hp 2.0 turbo diesel) and E300 (245hp 2.0 turbo petrol) on offer.
While they make more financial sense, they are considerably worse than
the E400. The 4-cylinder engines feel rougher and sounds coarser at
upper rev range. Their modest power means you need to squeeze them
harder in acceleration to overcome the weight of the car, and this
hurts refinement further. Their passive suspension or adaptive dampers
can’t match the refinement of air suspension either. If you want to buy
a smaller engine coupe, BMW 4-Series would be a better bet. If you
insist one with a 3-pointed star, try the C-class Coupe, whose 120 kg
or so lighter kerb weight makes the life of 4-cylinder engine easier.
|Verdict: E400 Coupe:
; E200/220d/300 Coupe:
||All rights reserved.
| AMG E63
a much better packaging and a more efficient V8 extends AMG's lead at
BMW E39 M5 broke the 400 horsepower barrier in 1998, the performance
executive car segment has been chasing horsepower harder and harder.
600hp now seems to be the new class norm – Audi RS6 Performance has
605hp, the outgoing M5 Competition pack had 600hp (and the new car just
around the corner is expected to have more), Caddy CTS-V now tops the
class with 640hp, and don’t even mention the mad Dodge Charger Hellcat
or Demon that sit a class or two lower. The latest member of the 600hp
Club is Mercedes-AMG E63 S, a strong contender for the class laurel.
You must remember the outgoing E63 S because it topped our class rating
last 4 years. Its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 produced 585hp and, in
combination with 4matic traction, good for 0-60 mph
sprint in merely 3.5 seconds. But most important, it was good to drive
in all aspects – great engine noise, good balance, supple ride and
engaging handling. My only reservation was its outdated exterior and
interior. In contrast, the new car starts with a classy look and an
impeccable interior. It scores full marks on the packaging side,
unquestionably, but is the mechanical side equally remarkable? Let’s
expected, the new E63 has replaced the 5.5-liter V8 with the much
smaller, 4-liter motor that started life on the AMG GT. It is not a
direct transplant from the sports car though, as it is given a new
codename, i.e. M177 instead of M178, reverted to wet sump lubrication
and fitted with different pistons, intake manifold, exhaust,
intercooler and even turbochargers – the latter are larger, enabling
the E63 S to use a very high boost pressure (1.5 bar), even higher than
the most exotic AMG GT R (1.35 bar), believe or not. What about the
resultant increase of turbine inertia? It is dealt with using
twin-scroll turbos, the first time on the 4-liter family. By separating
the exhaust gases from different cylinder pairs, interference is
reduced, so is turbo lag. As a result, the E63 S is good for 612
horsepower at 5750-6500 rpm, accompanied with 627 pound-foot of torque
from 2500 to 4500 rpm. It goes without saying that the AMG V8 no longer
needs extra cubic centimeters to shine. Now it delivers more power and
torque than the same displacement V8s from Audi and Porsche, which is a
4-liter V8 delivers more power and torque than the same displacement
V8s from Audi and Porsche, which is a remarkable achievement.
important change to the new V8 is the addition of cylinder deactivation
the first time. It utilizes Mercedes' Camtronic variable valve lift
mechanism to do so. Cylinder 2, 3, 5 and 8 feature 2 sets of cam
profiles, one for normal lift and another for zero lift, which shuts
down the valves completely. Besides, ignition and fuel injection to
those cylinders will be cut, effectively turning the V8 into a V4. As a
result, fuel consumption and emission is reduced by 17 percent compared
with the old car.
How does the V8 feels on the road? Firstly, the two
quickly low down, not quite as linearly as BMW or Audi V8s because the
AMG V8 does without cross-bank turbocharging, but its throttle response
is quick enough and turbo lag is still hardly detectable. However, the
most memorable difference is the rush of power once its turbos fly,
which comes like a tsunami and makes it feel much more exotic than its
German rivals. And this is supported with a soundtrack that is
evocative, loud and even mad. Of course, you can turn it into a gentle
luxury car V8 by switching to Comfort mapping, but in other modes the
AMG is always more thrilling, more manic than its rivals. It shows that
AMG no longer wishes to settle on the Q-car route. It’s time to shout
In terms of straight line speed, few in the 4-door world could
challenge the E63 S – with
the exception of Tesla P100D, whose talent is one-dimensional
admittedly. It is
quoted to do 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, i.e. almost as quick as a Ferrari
458 Italia! 0-100 mph should dip under 7.5 seconds. The improvement
over the old car might be marginal, but it is now so quick that
you won’t feel the need to pursue any more. Top speed is capped at 186
mph again. It might be slower than the unlimited Bentley or Aston, but
considering the traffic at Autobahn a speed higher than 300km/h is no
longer relevant to real world usage. The only thing left slightly to be
is the 9-speed MCT transmission. Although its gearshift feels
noticeably quicker than the old 7-speed unit, it is occasionally
hesitant, not quite as consistent as the mighty ZF automatic (no wonder
the next M5 is switching to the latter).
comes like a tsunami and makes it feel much more exotic than its German
To deal with the increased power, the E63 is now fitted with 4matic+ as
standard. While the old car’s 4matic system employed planetary center
differential to split torque, normally 33:67 front to rear, the new
4matic+ switches to an electronic-controlled multi-plate clutch to
engage the front axle on demand. This means its torque split is
actively variable, and it is able to deliver 100 percent torque to the
rear wheels if it disconnects the front axle completely. In combination
with an electronic active rear differential, this allows the new car to
introduce a Drift mode to please keen drivers. Unfortunately, you do
need a wide race track to exploit the Drift mode and the resultant
endless sideways. On public roads, it is simply impossible to access
the mode without risking your life. You have to settle on the Sport and
Sport+ modes instead. More unfortunately, AMG seems to have dialed back
these modes a little in the presence of Drift mode. The traction and
stability control in these modes are always turned on, and it makes
power slide very difficult to achieve unless you commit very hard.
Don't get me wrong, the new E63 S is remarkably neutral and agile for
its class, and its steering is weighty and accurate, but its
disciplined rear end means it is
actually less playful than its predecessor on public roads !
Another problem is ride quality. Strangely, although the new car has
upgraded to 3-chamber air suspension like the rest of E-class, its ride
is always firm in all except Comfort mode. On smooth open roads you
might not aware, but on a rough back road you will feel every bump,
narrowing the car’s versatility. Comparatively, the old car was more
supple on bad roads. Go through the list of chassis modifications you
won’t find any obvious reasons: wider tracks, more negative camber,
stiffer bushings, hollow anti-roll bars, forged aluminum wishbones etc.
on front suspension, body shell reinforced by 4 additional struts,
tires widened by 10mm, wheels grown by an inch, 390 mm compound front
brake discs with 6-piston calipers (ceramic brake optional)…
is better to drive, but it can't match the AMG's interior for quality,
technology, desirability and simply everthing.
This means the new E63 S is not as outstanding as we have expected.
might be faster than any other performance sedans in the real world,
and it has an engine that is both hugely powerful and exotic feeling,
its ride is too hardcore and its handling is not as interactive as the
old car. Overall, it is still easily more entertaining to drive than an
M5 or RS6, but I would reckon Cadillac CTS-V should be a better
car, even though the AMG would trump the Caddy in everything else, such
as styling, quality,
interior... so much that probably only patriots would choose the Caddy
Before the arrival of the next M5 and Jaguar XF R, the AMG is still the
to be beaten.
The lesser E63
As before, there is a cheaper, lesser E63 (non-S) model on offer. It
has the turbo boost detuned to 1.3 bar for 571hp and 553 lbft. Top
speed is regulated at 155 mph. The electronic LSD is replaced with a
mechanical one, and smaller brakes are adopted. Its mission is not to
catch sales, but on the contrary, to make the E63 S feel superior and
boosts its sales. However, to most drivers never taking their cars to
track, the base car feels close enough.