2014 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS REVIEW
What’s hot: Torque-laden V6, compelling value for entry-level E 200 variants
What’s not: Suspension too firm, no more V8.
X-Factor: Better value, and more equipment - the two-door duo is not only more affordable, it’s more desirable too.
|E 200||2.0 petrol 4cyl||135kW/270Nm||6.0 l/100km|
|E 250||2.0 petrol 4cyl||155kW/350Nm||6.0 l/100km|
|E 250 CDI||2.1 diesel 4cyl||150kW/500Nm||4.7 l/100km|
|E 400||3.0 petrol 6cyl||245kW/480Nm||6.5 l/100km|
Vehicle style: Large coupe/convertible
Price: $79,900 (E 200 Coupe), to $142,545 (E 400 Cabriolet)
They both flaunt entirely new front end designs as well as new alloy wheels, new tail-lights and a reshaped rear bumper, but that’s about it as far as the cosmetic evolution goes.
In fact, the most noteworthy changes concern the addition of an affordable E 200 variant to the E-Class two-door range, and the dumping of the V8-powered E 500 and the naturally-aspirated V6 engined E 350.
That pulls the two-door variants into line with the rest of the E-Class range. Atmo V8s and V6s are out, replaced by the E 400 and its twin-turbo 3.0 litre V6.
While revheads will lament the loss of a V8-powered Mercedes 2+2 coupe, others will welcome the added value of its twin-turbocharged V6 replacement.
With the E 400, the price of the top-tier E-Class Coupe drops from $178,585 to $128,545 - cheaper than the outgoing E 350 Coupe’s asking price.
The V6’s performance is down 55kW and 120Nm on the outgoing V8, but, as we found out, it’s still a strong engine.
We weren’t able to drive the new E 200 base model, however at $79,900 for the Coupe it takes the fight right to Audi’s A5 2.0 TFSI.
The E 250’s value-equation has also been sharpened. At $96,400 it’s $1400 more expensive than the outgoing model, but more equipment has been added as standard and Mercedes claims it now offers around $10,000 more value than before.
Moreover, in convertible form the $106,400 E 250 Cabriolet is actually cheaper than its predecessor, while gaining the extra standard features of its hard-topped sister.
Good value, relatively speaking. We do miss that V8 though.
Inside, the most prominent change is the migration of the gear selector from the centre console to the steering column, while the steering wheel’s shape has also been updated.
There are also some changes to upholstery colours and dash trim finish, but this is pretty much the same cabin as before.
We like it. The rear seats are reasonably roomy for a 2+2 in coupe form, and the extra space freed up in the centre console is definitely welcome.
The Cabrio’s back seat is tighter in both width and headroom. Boot space is smaller too, measuring 390mm with the roof up compared to the Coupe’s 450 litres.
More appealing though, is the range’s tweaked standard equipment list.
Even the entry-level E 200 is quite well-equipped. Leather is standard (REAL leather), and so is a blind-spot monitor, collision prevention system, reversing camera, active park assist and a full suite of 11 airbags for both Coupe and Cabriolet.
That’s in addition to the features you’d normally expect of a luxury car costing circa $80k.
Things like sat-nav, auto-dimming mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, speed limiter, dual-zone climate control and electric front seats (although fore-aft adjustment is still manual).
Move up to the E 250, and you gain an electrically-adjustable steering column, fully electric seats, keyless entry and ignition, active cruise control, lane-keep assist and bi-LED headlamps.
The range-topping E 400 adds a digital audio tuner and high-end Harman Kardon sound system, along with a panoramic glass roof and 360-degree camera system.
Cabriolet spec mirrors that of the Coupe, however it should be noted that the base E 200 Cabrio doesn’t come with heated front seats and the Airscarf system as standard - something worth considering if you live in Australia’s lower latitudes.
ON THE ROAD
We’ve driven the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet before. The E 400 with its twin-turbo V6 was our focus for this launch, especially as the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet are the first Mercedes models to be available with this powertrain in Australia.
It’s a decent engine too. Although it lacks the outright punch of the E 500’s 4.7 litre twin-turbo V8, the E 400 has a strong midrange and ample torque from 2800rpm up.
It’ll push the E 400 to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds (and that’s without any form of launch control).
The seven-speed automatic also works well with the E 400’s V6. In sport mode the gearbox hangs onto lower gears for longer, and also downshifts when braking hard into a corner.
This ‘box won’t hold ratios against redline when in manual mode, but at least upshifts and downshifts are executed quickly.
The 3.0 V6 is rather quiet though, a typical turbocharger “issue”. The muted grumble of the E 400 can’t hold a candle to the vocal E 500 when it comes to aural appeal.
The E 250’s 2.0 litre turbo four (itself an up-rated version of the E 200’s engine) is a familiar engine, and it performs exactly as it does in the E 250 sedan.
It’s got meaty midrange torque and a 7.1second 0-100km/h time means it’s no slouch. For cruising around town the E 250 does well, but performance fiends will be better off with the E 400.
The electrically-assisted steering is light and direct, but we had issue with the suspension on the E 250 and E 400.
It’s fidgety and overly firm over small road imperfections, yet feels almost too compliant when encountering large bumps.
The former can be at least partially explained by the 19-inch alloys that are standard on the E 250 and E 400 (we weren’t able to sample the 18-inchers on the E 200 at launch), but the latter seems to be the result of not enough compression damping.
The Cabriolet rides much the same, however the presence of scuttle-shake and steering wheel shimmy lets you know that it’s a much less rigid machine than the Coupe.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
The real star of the new E-Class two-door range is the E 400. No question.
It’s only 0.2 seconds slower to 100km/h than the V8-powered car it replaces, consumes less fuel and has a whopping $50k price advantage over the E 500 in coupe form..
The E 250 is not without some charm of its own either. It’s a capable cruiser whether drop-top or hardtop, and its more-compelling feature list for the 2014 model year will give it substantially more ‘pull’ on the showroom floor.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to sample the E 200 at the launch, however that review will come in time - as it will for the E 250 CDI Coupe, which also wasn’t available to drive.
Stay tuned, there’s more to come on the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- E 200 - $79,900
- E 250 - $96,400
- E 250 CDI - $98,900
- E 400 - $128,900
- E 200 - $88,900
- E 250 - $106,400
- E 400 - $142,900