Lux­ury is ad­dic­tive

It’s never been cheaper to make the E-list

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE EDI­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

BIG sedan sales around the world are tank­ing, some­thing from which even one of the world’s best four-doors is not im­mune.

As Mercedes-Benz’s mas­sively re­vised E-Class goes on sale this week, the bench­mark pres­tige sedan is com­ing off a May sales tally of 75. In­deed, in five months this year, only 356 E-Class sedans and wag­ons have shifted— last year 337 sold in May alone.

In con­trast, the smaller and older C-Class re­mains the best­selling mid-size im­port at any price level.

The para­dox is that the re­newed E-Class has never been bet­ter value and in­cludes fix­tures of the com­ing S-Class limou­sine.

Up to $23,000 in ex­tra equip­ment is the lure laid by Mercedes-Benz to keep pres­tige buy­ers out of SUVs and in its big­ger sedan.

The line-up has been trimmed of some slow-sell­ing ver­sions but adds the debu­tant E300 BlueTEC Hy­brid. At $109,900 it com­bines its al­ready con­sid­er­able four­cylin­der diesel with an elec­tric mo­tor to achieve fuel econ­omy su­pe­rior to most small hatches — 4.3L/100km— and emis­sions of 113g/km CO .

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‘‘ It’s a big car for a big coun­try but with­out the big-car thirst,’’ Benz boss Horst von San­den says. ‘‘ Our hy­brid is unique, as the com­bus­tion engine is diesel, rather than typ­i­cal petrol (com­bin­ing) the econ­omy of a pow­er­ful four­cylin­der diesel over long dis­tances at high speed with the ad­van­tages of an ef­fi­cient hy­brid in city traf­fic.’’

Un­usu­ally for a hy­brid, pas­sen­ger and lug­gage space are not af­fected by the ex­tra driv­e­train com­po­nents. Yet for all the hy­brid’s eco-nice­ness— and the $23K sav­ing on the diesel wagon— the E250 is likely to be the most at­trac­tive pack­age.

Some $15K of pre­vi­ously op­tional ex­tra kit in­cludes an ad­vanced driv­ing pack­age from the new S-Class and it’s still less than six fig­ures.

Benz’s ‘‘ most ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tem moves even closer to­wards au­ton­o­mous driv­ing’’ with new func­tions in­clud­ing adap­tive cruise con­trol with steer­ing as­sist, which uses dual cam­eras to keep the E-Class in the lane.

A lane-keep­ing as­sist func­tion scans the road for solid and bro­ken lines. It brakes a wheel to avoid cross­ing solid lines and alerts the driver with a vi­bra­tion in the steer­ing wheel if he’s veer­ing over a bro­ken line. If it de­tects on­com­ing traf­fic, it also brakes a cor­ner to bring the Mercedes back into its lane.

There are ac­tive park as­sist, auto dim­ming and fold­ing mir­rors, full LED light­ing and sports pack­age with 19-inch al­loy wheels. The new Euro 6 com­pat­i­ble 2.0-litre four­cylin­der turbo petrol engine— as seen in the A250 Sport— pro­duces 350Nm, an in­crease of 40Nm on the cur­rent E250.

Benz’s mid-life re­vi­sions have be­come more like new model launches, so per­va­sive are the changes. Vis­ual changes are min­i­mal, a mea­sure that keeps ex­ist­ing own­ers sweet and pro­tects re­sale.

Look hard and you might dis­cern that the front lights are a sin­gle unit with a pair of day­time run­ning lights in a tick shape. The front end still comes in two guises, the El­e­gance with a bon­net-mounted three­p­ointed star and three-strake grille and the sportier Avan­tgarde style that uses a larger Mercedes roundel mounted in a two-bar grille.

In­side, it is even sub­tler. A new ‘‘ split view’’ seven-inch screen (also in com­mon with the com­ing S-Class) projects one dis­play for the driver and an­other for the pas­sen­ger.

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