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Bilal Firfiray Bilal Firfiray Thursday 08 April 2021

Believe it or not, the current-gen E-Class has been around for more than four years now. So to maintain its reign over the segment, Mercedes-Benz India has launched the mid-life update for the mid-size luxury sedan in India with comprehensive changes both inside and out. Like before, it comes standard in the long-wheelbase guise and looks more and more like an S-Class. We have driven the E200 guise in this review.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

Right off the bat, the new E-Class looks much more mature than the one it replaces. Although the bulbous shape of the headlamps remains unchanged, the internal lighting signature replaces the two-LED strips with better looking eyebrow-styled daytime-running lights. Moreover, the grille is redesigned to be sleeker but has vertical louvres and thinner chrome strips enveloping the Three-Pointed Star. This new design might divide opinions, but Mercedes manages to keep things subtle with the S-Class inspired lower bumper.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

In profile, there are no visible changes you can point your finger at. But move to the back and the sleeker taillamps look much more modern. In reality, it looks inspired by the taillamps Mercedes-Benz used on its two-door coupe models. It also gets a striking LED lighting signature while the lower bumper is carried over in consort with its faux, chrome-surround exhaust tips. We’d have preferred slightly bigger and better-looking alloy wheels to go with the E’s new design. But that can of course be chosen individually by the customer according to their individual taste.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

Mercedes-Benz has taken a digital approach on the inside making the E-Class’ cabin as opulent as it can get. For starters, there’s that sensuous looking steering wheel that would look more at home at some French museum of art. Behind, it spans the large MBUX screen – a 12.5-inch apiece display panel that might look intimidating at first with its million configurations. But you’d easily get used to it in no time. There are so many ways to control the screen, the information you want to be thrown at you – there are controls on the steering, there’s a digital pad on the centre console and the infotainment screen is also touch-responsive.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

First introduced with the GLC in India, this MBUX system replaces the Command system offered in the last E-Class. Appearance wise, the two large screens stacked here are vibrant and easy on the eyes, while also being simple to use. As mentioned above, there are tons of configuration available and you can have tiny little details ranging from maps, radio station, trip computer, and power usage details to driver assist systems, gyroscope, and drive modes displayed either on the centre screen or on the driver’s display. What’s more, everything in here is dynamic and configurable to the owner’s preference.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

The elegance of the cabin continues with the comfortable and thoughtfully-designed seat upfront. And amplifying the affluence further are soft-touch materials used all around the cabin along with a subtle hint of chrome, piano black inserts and wooden trim taking the ambience of the E-Class up a notch. But when you buy an expensive Merc, you’d be spending more time in the backseat, especially if you got yourself the longer wheelbase one. So, the E-Class LWB has acres of legroom and the comfortable seats are a good place to spend long hours in. They can be reclined too, but we found the reclining works more in making it upright rather than making it laidback. It’s practically a four-seater, hence the backrest of the middle passenger double-ups as an armrest complete with another touchscreen – a detachable tab that has all the controls you get on the MBUX screen upfront. Lastly, making the back seat feel even more lavish are those double sunroof setup along with separate climate control for the rear passengers. The boot space of 540litres is more than ample for luggage of four. But we wish it could have been taller since the spare wheel takes up some space underneath it.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

In terms of features, this isn’t the top-spec E-Class you can buy. Yet it comes with all the bell and whistles you can ask for like Burmester sound system, 64-shade ambient lighting, three-zone climate control, automatic parking, MBUX infotainment system with Alexa and Google Home integration along with soft closing doors to name a few. In terms of safety, there are no less than seven airbags, standard Mercedes’ pre-safe tech alongside ABS and EBD, traction control and ISOFIX mounting points.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

What we have here is the E200 petrol with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine under the long hood putting out a healthy 194bhp of power while the max torque is rated at 320Nm. All the power is sent to the rear wheels only channelled through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Not only has this motor grown more refined, but it is also responsive and linear in performance. It pulls strongly when you give it some beans and you’d see the digital tacho needle work its way across the screen while the E would gracefully lift its skirt and gallop for a sprint. It doesn’t lose its refinement still and remains as vibration-free and silent as you’d imagine a big Merc to be.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

At slow speeds, the motor is manageable as it shifts quickly but you’d never be left wanting for more, should a need for quick overtake arises. Keeping highway speeds in this E wouldn’t be an hassle either and it could go on munching miles quite easily. As for the gearbox, the nine-speed unit works its way through the gears smoothly and efficiently. It isn’t lightning-quick say like the dual-clutch unit in the rivals, but you won’t be left hanging when you plan on darting through the traffic or overtaking slow-moving trucks out on the highway.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

With the long-wheelbase, the E-Class is surprisingly a big car – but you’d be surprised how easy it is to manoeuvre around. While the steering has a good amount of weight to it even at standstill and at slow speeds, it responds nicely. You could alter its nature through drive modes, but the Comfort mode should do the trick in most of the scenarios the E-Class would usually find itself in. It’s not a particularly sporty sedan, but you won’t be disappointed should you decide to take the wheel one fine day instead of the backseat.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

As for the ride, similar to the steering, it is well balanced. There’s no fancy air-suspension here which is available in the more expensive variant. But the E takes in all the bumps and creases with good composure while remaining comfortable trudging through everything that could be thrown in its way. Take it up to highway speeds and there’s good composure settling down after abrupt undulations and road joints without troubling the passengers.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review

With prices starting at Rs 63.60 lakh (ex-showroom), the new and refreshed Mercedes-Benz E-Class has gotten expensive. But it justifies this update and the price bump with sensible styling on the outside and newer goodies on the inside – some of which are segment benchmarks to an extent. While it remains the largest sedan in its class – rivalled by the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Volvo S90 and Jaguar XF – the E-Class also triumph over the rivals thanks to its strong brand value to back its other strong proposition like the spacious and well-thought-out and comfortable cabin, long list of features and ease of driving.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review
Pictures by Kapil Angane.

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