2013 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: $98,900 (plus on-roads), $106,500 as-tested
Engine/trans: 150kW/500Nm 4cyl diesel turbo | 7spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.9 l/100km | tested: 6.3 l/100km
Mercedes-Benz improved the looks of its E-Class range in 2013, but there's more: prices have dropped, and equipment levels have grown.
The retail price for this, the mid-range E 250 CDI, now dips below the $100k mark.
The value equation has also been sweetened with cutting-edge safety equipment, which must surely make the new E 250 CDI one of the safest vehicles on the road today.
What’s it like to live with? Read on.
Quality: We’ve seen a number of E-Class models come through the TMR garage, and it’s always a delight to sit in them.
The facelifted model may differ little from its predecessor, but that is by no means a bad thing: although the presentation is sober, the quality is hard to beat.
Materials are every bit as premium as you’d expect of a Benz (the stitched leather dashboard is particularly nice), and there’s a reassuringly solid feel to the build.
Comfort: Plenty of space for driver and front passenger, and the driver in particular is well accommodated with a tilting and telescoping steering column, as well as the generous range of the electrically-adjusted seat.
The seat cushions are quite flat though, and aggressive cornering will see thighs sliding into the centre console or door trim. Is that a big concern for the average E 250 CDI buyer? Probably not.
The back seat is as commodious as ever, but though headroom, shoulder room and foot rom are great, the proximity of the front backrests to the knees is a little close for longer-legged passengers.
Equipment: Mercedes-Benz has cranked up the standard equipment list for the 2013 E 250 CDI.
In addition to dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and auto-on wipers and headlamps, the E 250 CDI now ships with plenty of cutting-edge goodies.
Like full LED headlamps, for example. Or keyless entry and ignition. There’s also a self-parking feature, active cruise control, auto-dimming and power folding wing mirrors, power front seats and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Considering the drop in price, the additions to the E 250 CDI’s standard equipment list is impressive indeed.
Storage: The E-Class’ boot measures in at a healthy 540 litres, and handles for dropping the 60/40 split rear seats are helpfully mounted in the boot to aid the loading of longer, larger luggage.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The E 250 CDI’s 2.1 litre turbo diesel four cylinder carries over with few changes, and still develops 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
Those numbers are substantial for an engine of this size (particularly that torque figure), and these class-leading stats mean the E 250 CDI is more than capable of keeping up with fast traffic.
Like all turbodiesels, the E 250’s powerplant is happiest when kept within a fairly narrow range. In this case, the zone between 1500rpm and 2500rpm.
Peak torque starts to taper off at just 1800rpm, but there’s plenty of twist available above that. Peak power doesn’t arrive until 4200rpm, but to be honest the sheer volume of low-end torque means you’ll seldom need to work the E 250’s engine that hard.
And that relaxed power delivery is further aided by the E 250 CDI’s seven-speed automatic. With seven (tall) gears to choose from, the car keeps revs low most of the time to save fuel and exploit the engine’s torque.
Some driver’s may find the default Eco mode too dull in its response to throttle inputs, but cycling it to sport (which changes shift mapping as well as throttle sensitivity) gives the E 250’s driveline some added urgency.
Refinement: Luxury and comfort has always been the E-Class’ forte, and the E 250 CDI doesn’t disappoint.
There’s little vibration to speak of when underway, while wind and tyre noise are well suppressed.
The only complaint we have is with the engine’s note. It can be a bit gruff and gravelly when coming off idle.
Ride and Handling: The E 250 CDI feels sure-footed and secure, without being overly firm (even on the standard 19-inch alloys. The focus on ride comfort is obvious, but the E 250 isn’t too shabby when pitched into a corner either.
There’s an intial softness to cornering response as the E 250 rolls onto its outside wheels. Steering response is also not quite as crisp as some other RWD competitors in the segment.
The chassis is quite neutral in a corner though, and grip and resistance to understeer are both good. It’s not a true corner-carver, but let’s not overlook that this is still quite an able machine.
The steering is now electrically assisted, yet unlike some electric systems the steering is consistent and meaningfully direct throughout its travel. A variable rack ratio also means it’s not too sensitive around dead centre.
Braking: The E 250 CDI gets big perforated brake rotors as standard, and stopping performance is excellent.
The pedal is also responsive without being too grabby, which makes for smoother progress in stop-start traffic.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - the 2009 model E-Class sedan scored 34.88 out of 37 possible points in Euro NCAP testing.
Safety features: Besides the nine airbags (front, front side, rear side, driver’s knee and full-length curtain), rigid steel passenger cell and three-point seatbelts that are standard on every E-Class, the E 250 CDI comes loaded with plenty of active safety equipment.
There’s active cruise control with an auto-steering function to keep you within the lines on highways, a blind spot monitor to prevent you merging into other traffic, and an auto-braking system that can prevent rear-enders (and pedestrian collisions) at speeds less than 50km/h.
And that’s all in addition to the standard stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Service intervals are set for every 25,000km or 12 months, whichever occurs first. Servicing costs can vary, so consult your dealer.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
BMW 520d ($82,400) - The sharpest machine here when it comes to chassis dynamics, and the cheapest too.
Countering the 520d’s price and dynamic advantages is an interior that doesn’t feel as premium as the E 250 CDI’s, not to mention a relative shortfall in standard equipment.
Speccing a 520d to the same level as the E 250 CDI would be an expensive exercise. (see 5 Series reviews)
Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro ($107,500) - A more visually interesting interior design, slightly better rear cabin space and the safety of all-wheel drive are the key advantages of the Audi A6, not to mention its 180kW/580Nm turbo diesel V6.
The downside is a pricetag that’s higher than the E-Class and a standard spec sheet that’s slimmer - particularly in the area of active safety. (see A6 reviews)
Jaguar XF 3.0 D Luxury ($93,900) - The Jag’s best feature is its creamy-smooth 3.0 litre twin-turbo diesel, which is sublimely smooth and paired with a suberb eight-speed automatic.
Interestingly though, it only produces 17kW more power than the Benz. Torque is identical and good chassis dynamics make the Jag an enjoyable drive.
Interior quality is so-so compared to the Benz, and the standard equipment list isn’t as fat either. However, it’s substantially cheaper to get into one. (see XF reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Its turbo diesel four-pot puts out power and torque figures that are competitive with larger V6s, yet returns fuel consumption figures that make it economical to run as a daily driver.
But, most importantly, it sets a new standard for standard safety equipment.
The sheer amount of collision-avoidance electronics mean that it would take some very sloppy driving to get yourself into trouble. But if you do, there's nine airbags and an active braking system to help.
All that in a large, handsome European sedan for less than six figures. Not a bad deal.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- E 200 - $79,900
- E 220 CDI - $82,400
- E 250 - $97,400
- E 250 CDI - $98,900
- E 300 BlueTec Hybrid - $109,900
- E 400 - $129,900
- E 63 AMG S (430kW) - $249,900
- E 200 - $86,900
- E 250 CDI - $107,700
- E 400 - $137,700