TOP 5 FUTURE TECHNOLOGY FROM FRANKFURT
The shape of things to come
Our test car carried matt brown wood trim with subtle aluminium accents bringing enough brightness to the dark cabin. Like any Merc, the interior is ludicrously customisable, although the contemporary finish in our test unit crafted a stately yet sporty cabin that felt rewarding without being overbearing.
The front seats were optionally heated and cooled as well, and the Burmester 3D surround sound system – blasting 1,450 watts of flawless sound through 23 speakers – was a welcome addition to the cockpit experience.
Also included in our test car was Mercedes’ entire suite of driving automation and active safety technologies, a surround view system, active high beams, and keyless entry. AMG’s Active Multi-contour front seats completed the premium luxury picture.
MODE OF CHOICE
Like most other sporty Mercs there are four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ – as well as a driverset Individual option. Eco, which sets stop/ start to be more aggressive and uses a glide function to, effectively, declutch the transmission, just doesn’t belong in a six-cylinder. More so in this six-cylinder. Comfort mode has a theoretical use case and is likely to be the go-to setting for most drivers. More gutsy pilots would either opt for Sport or Sport+, or skip the former altogether and go for the full AMG experience that the + affords. Ultimately, that is why you turned your back on fourpot-power to begin with, no?
Individual allows the driver to configure engine, transmission, and suspension settings, but most drivers will probably not fiddle with this option too much, and are far more likely to flick between Comfort and Sport+ as circumstances dictate.
Apart from tighter steering, switching to Sport+ mode instantly readies the big sedan for action by raising the engine speed, contracting gearbox shift-times and ratios, and considerably stiffening the suspension. It also does what most AMG fans want from their cars; it opens up the exhaust…
At 4,942 mm in length, and weighing in at 1,880 kg the E43 is a big car. Despite its bulk, it feels nimble and sporty, well balanced and purposeful.
It does remind you of its rear-wheel bias every so often when hard cornering in Sport+ mode, but for the most part, and thanks in part to the AMG-tuned setup, the big Merc eagerly chews up the bends.
Steering response is direct enough in the upper driving modes but decidedly vague in Comfort and even worse in Eco. Throttle response is neither violent nor too controlled. Instead, it is somewhere inbetween, in that elusive sweet spot where the E43 simply goes when your right foot meets the carpet.
While the adrenaline-fueled will yearn for the fire-breathing Mercedes-AMG E63, the price premium – somewhere north of R700,000 above the E43’s asking – will likely serve as a sobering reminder that you’re not in the CEO’s chair just yet. But if you’ll feel better for it, in our opinion the price variance just isn’t warranted, unless the V8-powered monster is what you desire most in life.
But if not, the E43 is sufficiently engaging, borrowing just enough from its eight-cylinder stablemate to keep things satisfying, blending ample power with the distinctive luxury driving experience that E-Class buyers have come to expect.