During the Christmas (holi)days, automotive pleasures truly abounded; we were able to spend them behind the wheel of the estate version of the new E-Class. What a well-balanced car it proved to be: roomy, comfortable, and thanks to its excellent ergonomics it was a joy to use every day.
We could also put the roominess of the estate to good use for Christmas shopping, let it be mentioned…
But we will tell you more about how (well) the car behaved during our test!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Well balanced, sporty proportions and looks
We already mentioned the different front-end designs of the E-Class. In the standard version, the basic variant and ELEGANCE equipment line, one finds the classic Saloon grille with 3-louvre look and star on the bonnet.
Our test car was equipped with the AVANTGARDE line, and this incorporates the sports car radiator with central star, and as such offers an independent front-end look with a sporty emphasis.
The bonnet and front bumper have also been completely redesigned too. With its flowing lines, the bonnet follows the new design idiom in a smooth, very straightforward manner.
The bumper is reshaped and is free of all light functions. It has a wing design of its spoiler lip, and as such underscores the sporty credentials of the E-Class.
We like very much the reworked interior. First of all the high-quality materials, precise joints and sharp curves underscore the impression of overall high-quality.
A new feature is the two-part trim which stretches across the entire dashboard. It can be selected in a wood or aluminium look, irrespective of the equipment line. Also new is the design of the air vents as well as an analogue clock between the two central air vents.
The harmonious interior is characterised by the redesigned centre console without selector lever, as well as a new multifunction steering wheel with DIRECT SELECT lever and shift paddles in conjunction with automatic transmission.
Very individual appointments can be offered…
The E-Class can be ordered with either ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE equipment lines, but it is good to know that irrespective of the chosen equipment line, all appointment options remain available. As such each vehicle can be individually tailored to ensure that it is unlike any other.
The large colour display is also put to good use by the rear view camera which was included in our test car...
Our test car also came with the COMAND Online system. This multimedia system for the E-Class comes with 17.8 cm high-resolution colour display, internet connection, hard-disc navigation and emergency call feature.
COMAND Online provides internet access enabling customers to surf the web while the car is stationary or call up a Mercedes-Benz app, whose particularly fast page loading and simple operation make it suitable for use while driving.
Integrated apps include Google™ Local Search and Weather and the facility for downloading a route which has previously been configured on a PC using Google Maps and transmitted to the car. In addition, apps for Google™ Streetview as well as Google™ Panoramio and other apps are also available.
Efficient 220CDIDiesel engine, and excellent gearbox...
Our test car sported the 2143 cc four-cilinder Diesel engine with 120 kW/160 HP power trim, meant for the Belgian market. Normally, this engine has a 125 kW and 170 HP between 3000 and 4200 rpm, and 400 Nm between 1400 and 2800 rpm.
One understands quickly that this engine needs hardly to be revved to produce more than adequate performance. 0 to 100 is absolved in less than 9 seconds, and average test consumption was well below the 6 litre mark. The manufacturer quotes a CO2 emissions level of 142 g/km.
Nothing short of astonishing is the quietness of the unit, certainly at “autobahn” or higher constant speeds. Of course, acoustically, one cannot totally disguise that a rather big four cylinder is doing its work under the bonnet, but the engine sound is never unpleasant or harsh. In the middle rev range and when using good power, the 4 cylinder throb has even a sporting note…
On the central console, one can select "S"ports, "E"conomy or "M"anual modes for the 7 speed TRONIC PLUS gearbox.
A word of praise is certainly indicated to describe the functioning of the 7G-TRONIC PLUS gearbox. Quite frankly, we left it most of the time in the “D” position and let the unit do its clever work. The DIRECT SELECT shift paddles are of course a sporting pleasure to use, but with the Diesel unit delivering such excellent torque, one hardly feels the need to use the paddles to achieve swift progress. Nevertheless, in special conditions and/or steep hills or mountain road(s), the paddles can be truly of great use.
On the right side of the leather covered steering wheel one finds the gearlever of the automatic box and the paddles.
If one, mostly because a special (traffic) situation warrants it, has shifted manually up or down, it is good to know that , after a set period of time the transmission
independently switches back to automatic, fuel-efficient shift mode, after a set period of time the transmission independently switches back to automatic, fuel-efficient shift mode.
Driving was made more pleasant and relaxing with the following extras: amongst others Traffic Sign Assist, a system which in addition to speed limits, can now also detect and display no-overtaking zones and the respective signs signalling their end.
In the case of signs imposing access restrictions, it can also provide visual and acoustic warnings.
A truly superb chassis
Our test car was equipped with AMG Alloy wheels...
One of the truly charming aspects of driving a Mercedes is the comfort and reassuring handling of the car, and the feeling of total security, being enveloped by this high-quality, extremely well built bodywork and last but not least passenger cabin.
Here the E-Class truly excels, quite evidently also in the Estate version. On our test car, as we mentioned, was equipped with the AVANTGARDE line, and this means that the sportily configured DIRECT CONTROL suspension is fitted with selective damping system.
One can select the suspension setting, "Sport" or "Comfort", according to your (driving) mood...
This makes the car 15 mm lower than the standard version. But on our test car, there was even more: it was shod with AMG alloy wheels, and featured the AMG sports package. This means a further lowered sports suspension. The suspension on “our” Estate car came with the Airmatic DC (semi-active air suspension). This AIRMATIC air suspension with electronically controlled damping system is fitted as standard to the V8 models. The Estate is basically fitted with air suspension with integrated level control system on the rear axle, and this came in very handy with our Christmas shopping trips…
The load capacity and volume of the Estate is truly astonishing. A large classic wooden chair could easily be loaded in the back without moving the rear bench...
Needless to say that the handling of the car was truly superb, being totally neutral, stable up to high cornering speeds, and the car keeps its balance even under vehement swerves caused by sudden steering movements.
All the models of the E-Class family are now fitted with an electromechanical Direct-Steer system as standard. This combines the speed-dependent power assistance of speed-sensitive steering with a variable ratio across the steering angle range.
This gives improved agility thanks to more direct steering response, whilst maintaining high levels of steering comfort at any speed.
The fact that the assistance is electric means that energy is only required when the steering movement actually occurs; last but not least, it enables the use of assistance systems, e.g. Active Parking Assist.
Our car was also equipped with the Lane Assistant Package, and the LED-Intelligent Light System, just see photo below.
Last but not least we want to mention the excellent seats, a discipline where the marque with the star is showing the way to many others. Of course they provide an ideal seating position and comfort thanks, amongst others, to their wide range of (electrical) adjustments offered.
Our test car came with black leather AMG Line seats. They came also with the memory pack, active on the front seats, steering wheel and external mirrors. The front seats were of course heated.
Of course we also enjoyed the Thermotronic digital climate control, and enjoyed the sound of the LOGIC 7 Surround Sound System from Harman Kardon.
Owning and driving a car like the 220 CDI E-Class Estate is a source of constant joy and pleasure. The car truly excels in its build quality and workmanship, in its dynamic yet timeless styling and design.
The ergonomic experience is also of the highest order, and last but not least the engine/gearbox/drivetrain leaves little to be desired. The reassuring typical Mercedes engine throb is a pleasure to the ear, and the smooth power flow funnelled through the 7 speed automatic transmission truly gets you going. Add to this the overall frugality and the longevity of the car, and one can understand fully why this car remains not only a top contender, but also a benchmark in its class.
The cruise control system is simple and intuitive to use, and is of course a great help in modern traffic with its numerous speed limits...
Look also for further coming news on our pages, soon we will present to you the new C-Class…
Hans Knol ten Bensel