beauty without the beast
Von Sanden says the E220 CDI reflects the growing acceptance of modern diesel technology by Australian customers.
The E350 costs $2965 less than the outgoing model, yet has more than $10,000 in extra standard equipment. The E500 sedan is $11,232 more expensive but gets about $21,000 worth of additional standard gear.
The E350 gets front and rear parking sensors with parking guidance, seven-speed G-tronic automatic, the lane-keeping package with blind-spot alarm, attention assist, 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon headlights with adaptive high-beam assist and cruise control.
It also has split/fold rear seats, cupholders, cable for the iPod input, multi-contour front seats and multizone climate control airconditioning.
The E500 ups the ante with keyless entry and go, more luxurious front seats, alarm and sunblinds in the rear and side-rear seats.
It has enough room and lashings of leather to please all occupants front and back.
The twin-headlights front remains, but the front is more upright around the familiar Mercedes grille.
The overall look is mature, but from some angles not as resolved as the previous generation. Time will tell how well the design will wear.
Buyers initially have the choice of the E350 3.0-litre V6 petrol or the E500 5.5-litre V8.
With the impressive turbodiesels arriving in September, the petrol 3.0-litre V6 may be overtaken in the performance stakes.
Both the E350 and E500 have gained weight, but the benefit is added safety and a quieter car. However, with 200kW and 350Nm on tap it’s a lot to ask the V6 to propel the hefty 1711kg E350 sedan.
On paper, Mercedes quotes a zero to 100km/h sprint of 6.3 seconds for the V6 and 5.2 seconds for the V8.
On the road, though, both engines do not feel very brisk. It may be because the cabin is so quiet you don’t get any sense of speed.
The ride overall in the V6 is composed, the direct control steering works well and the impressive seats set a benchmark for other brands in comfort and support.
The E500 gets the latest air suspension with adaptive dampers. It delivers a plush ride on the comfort setting, but feels best on the firmer setting, which adds precision.