Mercedes-Benz E-class W211

10 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes-Benz E-class W211
Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mercedes E-class W211

T he world is strange, isn#8217;t it? we all know the outgoing E-class was overshadowed by BMW 5-series in most important area – from build quality to dynamics, but it easily outsold the 5er and every other rivals from day 1 to the end. That said, 6 years on the top of sales chart, with an average of 200,000 cars found satisfying customers every year.

Even more strange is that while Mercedes can charge premium price for the E-class, a large amount of the cars were sold as company cars, fleet cars, hotel cars and even Taxis. Mass-market effect seems not able to downgrade the image of the 3-pointed star.

After 6 strange years (which is strangely short by the standard of Mercedes-Benz), the E-class is renewed. New generation W211 looks as if the evolution of W210. The trademark quad circular headlamps are still there, as is the big grille.

The whole body profile gets smoother and sleeker, lowering drag coefficient from 0.27 to 0.26 (for narrow-tyre E240). Dimension is nearly unchanged from the old car, just the 22mm longer wheelbase (now 2854mm, versus BMW 5-series’ 2830mm) worth mentioning. Interior room – a strength of the old car already – is boosted by an extra 20mm rear passenger headroom.

Otherwise there is no much surprise.

Cabin

Owing to cost cutting, the previous E-class was notorious about build quality – wide assembly gap, cheap plastics and switch gears, poor finish paint etc. Mercedes has learned the lesson and now you can see the visual quality of new E-class has much improved. Shut the doors and you will feel the structure is far more solid.

Panel gaps are narrower, dashboard material and assembly are better. However, you can still feel this is not the Mercedes of the good old days. It still trails Audi and BMW in build quality, which is disappointing considering the new car has 6 or so years ahead to spend its life.

The cabin is spacious, bigger than its main rivals, especially rear passenger room. Driver comfort is excellent too, thanks to superb driving position and full degree of adjustment. If you want gimmicks, it will provide you the world’s first active seat calling Dynamic Multicontour.

What is it. it has several air bags which inflate during hard cornering to enhance lateral support and otherwise deflate to make it more comfortable. Perhaps a little bit over the top. more welcome is a 4-zone climate control which should satisfy different requirements for each passengers.

Dynamic

Thanks to the use of more high-strength steel, the chassis is 18% stronger than before. Better still is adequate weight control. Mercedes has applied its weight reduction know-how learned from CL coupe to this mass production model, using aluminum hood, front wings, doors, trunk lid and some inner cross members to cut weight. Order a lean E240 and you will find it 20kg lighter than before despite of the advancement of refinement and quality.

Get a better-equipped E320, it is just 25kg heavier than before.

Engine remains to be the 3-valve-per-cylinder modular family of V6 and V8, plus the new 2.0-litre supercharged four-pot and some turbo diesels.

To confuse you, E240 actually runs a 2597c.c. V6 producing 177hp. It can be coupled to 5-speed automatic or 6-speed clutchless manual.

As before, the Mercedes in-house-built automatic shift seamlessly, but the clutchless manual is cumbersome.

E320 keeps the long-serving 3199c.c. V6 (224hp) unchanged. It is still a smooth and quiet unit by today#8217;s standard.

Though not as powerful as BMW#8217;s 3.0 straight-six, it has wide spread of torque and mates perfectly with the 5-speed automatic.

The old E430 has been replaced by E500. As suggested by its name, it runs the 306hp 5-litre V8 from S500 and SL500 etc. Mercedes#8217; V8 is renowned for lightweight, so the bigger engine can just lift driving excitement to new level without any drawback in handling.

Pushing just 1605kg kerb weight, the V8 can do 0-60mph in an astonishing 5.8 seconds! remember, Mercedes still has an E55 AMG on the pipeline, therefore E500 is actually sell as a fast saloon rather than sport saloon.

Handling

This time, Mercedes determines to beat BMW in the latter#8217;s backyard – handling. Everybody knows this is not an easy task, but the W211 is 6 years younger than the 5-series and has a big development budget. Moreover, it has 3 secret weapons:

1. All-new 4-link front suspensions, replacing the old double-wishbones. It has better control of camber, dive and squat, enhancing front-end grip and therefore minimizing understeer. The rear multi-link suspensions are now made of aluminum to cut unsprung weight, hence better ride comfort.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2. Airmatic DC: previously used in S-class only, the Airmatic is an adaptive air springing which alter spring rate according to road conditions, speed and driving style, also lower ride height at high speed. Airmatic DC now adds a 4-setting adaptive damping as well to further improve ride comfort and body control. Airmatic DC is standard on E320 and E500, and optional to other models.

3. A new speed-sensitive steering rack with quicker ratio (2.8 turns compare with 3.3 of the old car).

In real world, the new E-class really surprises us. Its steering is light, communicative and accurate. Body control – even on conventional suspension models – is very good while ride quality is smoother than BMW. No matter around town or motorway, no matter at any speed, the Mercedes deals with minimum fuss, offering great comfort and quietness unfound in rivals.

High speed stability and braking (by brake-by-wire SBC) are also excellent.

Get a E500 with Avantgarde (stiffer and 15mm lower) suspensions and Airmatic DC, it can even overshadow 540i in any area. The adaptive suspensions firm up in corner, improving stability and grip. As a result, the car changes direction eagerly, corners in tight bends fluently.

But best of all, it does all these so easily because of the supple ride, smooth engine / transmission combo, light controls and quiet cabin. E-class finally beats the mighty 5-series convincingly.

Conclusion

I would prefer the new E-class to have higher quality cabin and a prettier front-end styling, but its superb comfort and excellent dynamics are already enough to place it on the top of executive class. So, congratulation to Mercedes!

Just watch out next year#8217;s new 5-series. I would be surprised if BMW not to take a big step forward again.

The above report was last updated on 20 May 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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