The E-class gets a facelift from bonnet to boot
Earlier than would normally be expected comes a new version of the brand’s big seller
Fuel:Petrol and diesel
Date Reviewed:May 23, 2013
Dynamically, the car is much the same as the current model, and while there are changes to the petrol engine range, with improvements in fuel consumption, the majority of sales in Ireland will remain diesel, with just a sprinkling of the new hybrid version.
Ciaran Allen, Mercedes Ireland’s passenger car manager, estimates prices rising by 1.5 per cent on the current range. That means €44,000 for the entry-level E200 CDi. Cars are due in next month, with the estate arriving in April, followed by the coupe and cabriolet models in May.
The star of the range – on paper if not in sales – is the E63 AMG, bringing more power, better handling and all the improvements of the E-Class facelift. That means it cranks out 550bhp and 720Nm. And it’s fast.
What’s more, it encourages you to use its pace, bellowing deeply in a rumbly blast every time you get near the throttle. It’s so strong in the mid-range that you hardly ever actually need to reach its 5,500rpm power peak (and when you do, it’s usually because the seven-speed transmission is just so slow to shift up that you get there by accident).
Superb chassis balance
That gearbox, as ever, is the most annoying aspect of the E63 because it’s now so good, with exquisitely chosen damping ratios for the air rear and steel front springs. The core chassis balance is superb as well, and the choice of four mapping modes means you can have a car that can be thrown at mountain passes with fearless accuracy one hour, then a car that can pick up your granny from hospital the next.
The E63 was always a very good car but could feel a little sled-like and could squat too hard on its haunches under power. That doesn’t happen any more. It retains its balance, keeps the driver engaged and does it all without compromising the straight-line gristle most of its buyers want in the first place. Admittedly, with a price in the region of €120,000, Irish buyers will be in single digits.
Overall, the range reflects more of a complete overhaul than a mere facelift. Mercedes is eager to give its rivals a run for their money, and hopes to attract a few thirtysomethings to take the E-Class plunge. The new Avantgarde E200 CDI seems to fit the bill for this target market.