MERCEDES-BENZ E 350 d L

Longer and more lux­u­ri­ous, the all-new E-Class aims to be the new bench­mark

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

ENGTHY PRO­CE­DURES OF­TEN IN­VOLVE mixed re­ac­tions. It’s one thing at the den­tist’s, but when it comes to build­ing cars, it’s a dif­fer­ent story. In Ger­many, there are al­ways pro­ce­dures. Build­ing cars en­tails par­tic­u­larly long ones. Some­times you have to make some­thing hap­pen for your­self. That’s just what Mercedes of In­dia have done.

Long-wheel­base models are a rage in China. Un­der­stand­ably, most Euro­pean lux­ury car brands have at least one stretched model in their line-ups. MercedesBenz have two. The C-Class and the E-Class. Of course, the Chi­nese only drive petrol en­gines, while seated on the left. In a bold move, no less than a state­ment, MercedesBenz have in­tro­duced the E-Class L in In­dia, with a choice of petrol and diesel en­gines, pro­duced at Chakan, near Pune, no less.

The 10th-gen­er­a­tion E-Class, the W213, was given to the world not too long ago. It fea­tured a host of styling up­dates to bring it more in line with the fam­ily re­sem­blance, sit­ting — just as pretty — be­tween the CClass and the S-Class. The head­lamps, thank­fully, are far dif­fer­ent from its smaller and larger sib­lings, as they well should be. The E-Class has been recog­nised by its dis­tinct split head­lamps. Of course, the much ear­lier models and the more re­cent model, the W212, made do with unique light de­sign in­side a sin­gle light clus­ter. The new W213, or V213 as it is coded for its long wheel­base, fea­tures unique LED sig­na­tures that ap­pear to split the head­lamp clus­ter into two. Unique it cer­tainly is, then.

The lines on the car are fa­mil­iar, but new, and much, much longer. In fact, the 3,079-mm wheel­base of the new E-Class is a full 205 mm longer than the out­go­ing W212’s, 140 mm more than the W213 global model, and, wait for it, 44 mil­lime­tres more than even the stan­dard­wheel­base S-Class. How­ever, with a body length of 5,063 mm, the E is only slightly shorter than the S by 49 mm. But be­fore we for­get, we only have the long-wheel­base S-Class here, so this E-Class, and in this case for the E 350 d L, its price of Rs 69.47 lakh (ex-show­room, Delhi) puts it in a sweet spot.

In­side, though, is a spread that sets it apart from the rest, and how! Bor­row­ing quite a few el­e­ments from the larger S-Class, the new E boasts of a full-colour high-res­o­lu­tion in­for­ma­tion dis­play with dual di­als be­hind the steer­ing wheel in­cor­po­rat­ing another smaller screen that acts as a se­lectable info-dis­play. Light swipes of the fin­ger­tips is all it takes to op­er­ate the steer­ing-mounted touch­pads, too. The left con­trols the main dis­play in the cen­tre con­sole, whereas the right shuf­fles through the driver info-dis­play, dis­play­ing cur­rent speed, trip, odo, and even real-time fuel con­sump­tion.

The high­light of the new E-Class, how­ever, is its ex­tended form of lux­ury. The front leather seats are com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, thanks to mul­ti­ple ad­just­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties. While they are good to be in they will mostly seat a chauf­feur. That’s be­cause the rear seats are where one will en­joy spend­ing time in the car. The re­clin­ing seat­backs al­low for proper re­lax­ation. That as­pect is fur­thered by the 920 mm of room, enough to stretch, and the soft head-rest pil­lows that seem to be straight from the S. Need­less to say, it is a ver­i­ta­ble co­coon of lux­ury. The sound dead­en­ing is also far bet­ter than that in the out­go­ing model. The elec­tric sun­blinds on the win­dows and rear screen, the panoramic sun-roof, the cli­mate con­trol, and the over­all qual­ity feel do make it seem like a good choice. Then there’s the air sus­pen­sion and ride qual­ity.

The E 350 d L does seem to waft just as well as its el­der sib­ling. It

runs 17-inch wheels with 225/55 Good Year Ea­gle rel­a­tively high-pro­file rub­ber. The dou­ble-wish­bone front sus­pen­sion and multi-link rear are paired with Air Body Con­trol, which uses pneu­mat­ics and con­tin­u­ous damp­ing con­trol to fil­ter out any un­even­ness in ride qual­ity. The same setup also al­lows the ride height to be raised by 15 mil­lime­tres, from a rather low 120 mm to a rea­son­ably high 135 mm. The car au­to­mat­i­cally low­ers at speed or dur­ing dy­namic driv­ing. Which brings us to the other side of the coin...

The E-Class, long as it may seem, doesn’t be­have like a barge on wheels. When you trade the rear seat for the one with a wheel in your hand, it doesn’t dis­ap­point. The steer­ing wheel is lightly weighted but of­fers good feed­back and feels re­spon­sive. What also adds to the ap­peal is the Dy­namic Se­lect with fi ve drive modes, in­clud­ing ‘Sport+’.

Two tonnes it may weigh, but the E-Class re­ally stretched its legs when set free. The 3.0-litre V6 de­liv­ers 258 PS at just 3,400 rpm and a full 620 Nm of torque that peaks from 1,600 rpm. The re­sult is 0-100 km/h was dis­missed in 7.5 sec­onds, and it com­fort­ably broke the 200-km/h bar­rier; no doubt­ing its 250 km/h elec­tron­i­cally-lim­ited top end, then. In ‘Sport+’ shifts oc­cur at 3,800 rpm and it builds a no­tice­able surge. What’s more in­ter­est­ing is its agility on the move. It holds its line well and be­haves pre­dictably, in­spir­ing driver con­fi­dence. The brakes were ex­cep­tion­ally ef­fec­tive at shed­ding speed with drama as well, get­ting from 80 km/h to stand­still in 2.35 sec­onds over just 25 me­tres.

Another feather in its cap is its abil­ity to cruise at high­way speed. With the cruise con­trol en­abled, the E re­laxedly stays at 70 km/h in sev enth gear at 1,10 0 rpm. Econ­omy fig­ures were also con­sis­tent with the pre­vi­ous car, though this one is larger and heav­ier: 8.5 km to the litre in the city and 12 km/l on the high­way for an over­all 9.4 km/l.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, the new E-Class is a car that can han­dle mul­ti­ple roles quite well. It can be a great lux­ury fam­ily car in the city or one that means busi­ness, erad­i­cat­ing dis­tances us­ing high­ways. It’s an elon­gated ex­am­ple of Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing prow­ess, and it does in­deed feel like the an­swer to those who longed for pre­mium lux­ury with­out an eight-fig­ure price-tag.

Turbo-diesel V6 has been tweaked to be even stronger all across the rev-range

A great lux­ury fam­ily car in the city or one that means busi­ness, erad­i­cat­ing dis­tances us­ing high­ways

Un­de­ni­able air of qual­ity all around the cabin; light and airy doesn’t get any clearer; (in­set) Unique start/stop but­ton looks like a medal

Beige leather, black wood trim and alu­minium high­lights with a choice of 64 am­bi­ent light shades

The 360° sur­round cam­era is a boon, es­pe­cially for a car as long as this E

Power peaks at 3,400 rpm; red-line is well over the 5,000-mark

Split light sig­na­tures mark this one out as an E-Class; beams re­duce the count to just one

Rear seat com­fort is am­pli­fied as much by the added room as it is by the re­clin­ing seat-back

Boot vol­ume of 540 litres is more than ad­e­quate, but only with that spare wheel taken out

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