The new Car of the Year is in an E-Class of its own

by Gazette Reporter

In the past weeks, the new Mercedes Benz E-Class was awarded the coveted title of being Ireland’s Car of the Year 2017 and for very good reason.
This new E-Class has answered lots of questions when it comes to luxury and performance without a hefty increase in price.
In appearance terms this new E-Class has more modern styling. It is slightly longer than the older model and comes with very significant engine improvements to give better economy.
Mercedes Benz has billed this car as the one that’s on the pathway toward autonomous driving. There is a unique feature of the car that allows the driver to manoeuvre it remotely using a mobile phone app, without the driver being inside. The system is designed to appeal to all drivers who ever found themselves hemmed in within a narrow parking space and were unable to gain entry to their car. Does that sound familiar?
This new optional Mercedes Benz Drive Pilot system comes with automatic functions such as remote parking, road guidance, speed control, braking, acceleration, gear changing. It also has the ability to anticipate hazards ahead and to take corrective action.

This level of technology pushes the E-Class into a new league when it comes to automated features and what’s more, these options are not outside the scope of affordability. Testing it for the first time can be little nerve racking; after practice you soon get used to the feature and attract lots of nearby attention.
The test car that I drove was the E-Class 220d model that’s powered by a new all-aluminium four-cylinder diesel engine. The engine is powerful at 190bhp and pushes 400Nm of torque, so it was no surprise that it came out on top in the larger car British Towcar Awards for 2016.
The E-Class comes with a smooth and impressive nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard. This modern design gearbox contributes to the E220d’s low 112g/km CO2 rating and high 23km/litre (65mpg) fuel economy figure. This compares with the previous-generation E 220 CDI Saloon, which was launched in 2009, and produced 170bhp from its larger 2.1 litre engine. The new engine is 20% more economical and shaves €80 off the annual road tax rate due to lower CO2 emissions figure bringing down ownership costs significantly for what is a relatively big car.
On a test route that covered more than 600km, the test car delivered a return that was about 30% off the rated economy figure of 23.3km/litre (4.3/100km or 65mpg). That’s still a good return when it’s taken into account the range of driving conditions that you encounter on an average week. My driving style would give a range of over 1,100km for the E220d and that too is impressive for such a large car.
The E220d is also lively; the new engine delivers a car that faster than the previous model and much smoother to drive. The layout of the dash is modern and very functional. It was easy to get acquainted with the controls and setting up my phone to the Bluetooth system was logical and easy.
E-Class buyers will also be looking at the Audi and BMW offerings; that puts the A6 and the BMW 520d into focus as key competitors. Relative to that competition the car is a match in terms of economy, while it excels in terms of styling this is very much my personal view.

The interior is spacious and comfortable, with good seat adjustment up front. The AMG test car version is a shade sportier than the previous model that I had driven during the launch of the car back in April and with that comes a harder suspension, which is not always my preference.
The E-Class packs a large boot with a capacity of 540 litres, putting is ahead of the A6 and BMW. The spare wheel was the only absent feature even though the floor included a deep wheel well. I feel that in Ireland all cars should come with one, not matter what the price band level is, but especially at the higher level.
Mercedes Benz claims 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.
Among the standard E-Class features include 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.
The Mercedes Benz message for 2017 is that everyone can drive a Mercedes Benz. The entry price at €52,850 has to be looked at relative to the prices in the past. This car is €850 cheaper compared to the previous model, according to Irish importers Motor Distributors. With the package of features, it’s also very competitively priced relative to the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series competition. For the new E-Class the price might look high, while there’s a lot on offer.

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