NEW VEH ICLE MERCEDES-BENZ
2013 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS MUCH MORE THAN A FACELIFTThe E-Class has historically been one of the most popular models for Mercedes-Benz in India. The present gen-
eration model did well in the market but lacked the sporty appeal its competitors had. Responding as expected,
Mercedes gave the E-Class a facelift. The unexpected part was the magnitude of the facelift, with over 2,000
components being changed. The effect of these substantial technical changes is what we find out.
61autotechreview September 2013 Volume 2 | Issue 9
The first striking thing about the new E-Class, and also a deviation from the tra-ditional design, is the headlamp. The E-Class is globally known for having the four eyed look through four separate headlamp units. The new model however, has singular headlamp assemblies, yet manages to retain the four-eyed look in a graphical manner through the LED design treatment. Along with the new bonnet and bumper, the headlamps lend the car with a subtle yet prominent sporty look.
The car is sharper to look at from all angles now and the lines alongside the body seem to flow more smoothly. The flatter rear side trim adds further to the low-sitting appearance. The rear too gets a mild makeover through new LED tail lamps and bumper. The overall treatment gives the car a low-slung and dynamic appearance, when seen from the front three-quarters or side.
From a broader perspective, the design changes seem to have struck the right chords as the E-Class will now appeal to even those looking for a dynamic design. While all of this is due to several neat and subtle changes, its the headlamps that emerge as winners. The visual effect of the day-time running lamps is nothing short of wow, especially during night.
Downsizing is a buzzword in R&D centres of car makers across the globe, and the new E-Class reflects the great work done in this field by Mercedes-Benz. Our test car, E 250 CDI, was equipped with a 2.2 l four-cylinder unit producing 204 hp and 500 Nm of torque between 1,600 to 1,800 rpm. This translates into a specific torque output of more than 233 Nm per litre, one of the highest in its segment of engines. To give it some perspective, the torque fig-ures are pretty similar to that of the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6. However, the engines from the other two German com-panies displace 3 l and have two more cylinders each.
Tested for more than 100,000 hours on the test rig and over 10 mn km in varying conditions, the new engine pushes the technical boundaries of what diesel engines are usually associated
with. A two-stage turbocharging ensures theres no lag at low speeds. The result is quick response from the engine, regardless of the speed its spinning at. The common rail pressure has now been increased by 400 bar to 2,000 bar, resulting in smoother running apart from efficiency gains.
Refinement and NVH is of top order and the characteristic diesel clatter is negligible at cruising or city speeds. Its only during hard accelerations or engine speeds beyond 3,500 rpm, that theres some diesel clatter in the cabin. Of many more technologies aimed at low-ering NVH, an interesting one is the forged crankshaft. The unit has eight counterweights, the motion of which is supported by five bearings, lowering engine vibrations.
Aiding the turbo in enhancing the power output is the increased maximum ignition pressure of 200 bar. Countering the problem of heat emission from such a high pressure are two water jackets, which provide increased engine cooling. The overall power delivery from the unit is appre-ciable and drivability is flexible enough to suit all kinds of driv-ing styles. During our test, the car dispatched
the 0-100 km/h run in 7.9 s and still man-aged to return a fuel economy of 10.1 km/l in the city. Although, the lack of horse power does become evident once youre exceeding speeds of 150 km/h, this engine balances almost everything in a great manner, possibly the best in its seg-ment. For what it delivers for its size, in terms of power, efficiency and refinement, this unit clearly reflects the companys strength in diesel engines, which started in 1936 with the 260 D, when Mercedes put a diesel engine in a passenger car for the first time globally.
The engine is mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission, featuring a new torque converter with reduced slip. The unit shifts at an acceptable pace for the segment and customer the E-Class is tar-geted at. Upshifts are pretty quick but downshifts are comparatively slower.
The dual trim dashboard with a grainy aluminium strip lends the cabin a special feel
The 2.2 l engine sets new benchmarks in downsizing
NEW VEH ICLE MERCEDES-BENZ
If going by the sharper and sportier looks, one would naturally expect the new E-Class to be agile and more dynamic than the earlier version, and it doesnt disappoint. The three-link front suspension and the multi-link independ-ent rear suspension continue to deliver the excellent ride quality one would associate with the E-Class. The change comes in the form of added stiffness, which adds to the cornering and high-speed abilities of the car.
Driving fast over the curves reveals the effect of this change but still the E-Class suspension is soft. As a result, body roll is evident over turns, although significantly less than the older model. That however, doesnt impede its enhanced abilities to take high speed turns. Owing to the soft suspension, while low-speed ride quality is great, it becomes somewhat unsettling at undulating surfaces at high speeds.
The electromechanical Direct-Steer system was good to use, as it makes
turn-ins quite simple by aiding driver confidence and offers decent feedback too as speeds build up. All put together, the new E-Class is a much better car to drive than its predecessor.
The cabin of the E-Class is a signifi-cantly improved place to be in now as the design and feature offerings have gone a level above. The dual-trim on the dashboard looks premium with an alu-minium strip with a grainy texture. The analogue clock between the two central air vents comes across as a touch of understated sophistication.
The central screen plays host to COMAND Online, allowing for internet connectivity and navigation apart from the usual functions. Seats at the front and rear are excellent, and the front ones especially offer great shoulder and thigh support. Rear seats too offer good all-round support in addition to ample leg-
room and headroom. The panoramic roof adds significantly to an already airy cabin. In a nutshell, the cabin is a special place to be in and is more in sync with the newer world, the connected one. Safety wise, the new E-Class benefits from a host of active safety technologies from its yet-to-be launched elder sibling, the new S-Class.
The E-Class has been a key seller for the company globally, including India, and the new model is better in every area it has been worked upon. Unlike many facelifts aimed at offering slightly better looks and equipment, the new E-Class is a significantly different car from the older version. Most importantly, it fills the gap in every area that the old model left open. With the new and sharper design and the vastly improved powertrain and dynamic abilities, the car is better equipped than earlier to take on the competition. The new E-Class is priced at ` 44.3 lakh for the E 250 CDI and ` 41.5 lakh for the E 200 CGI variant, both prices being ex-showroom, Delhi.
TEXT : Arpit Mahendra
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay
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The new headlamp and LED design is a headturner
The LEDs retain the four lamp look of the E-Class The boot space is at par with segment standards
The rear, despite a mild makeover, gels well with the aggressive front