Mercedes-benz e-class

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New-generation executive saloon aims to bridge the gap between old and new

MODEL TESTED E220D AMG LINE PREMIUM PLUS

PHOTOGRAPHY JACK HARRISON

Quite a few all-new cars from all-new car makers enjoyed road test scrutiny last year, so let’s start the new year with something very much the opposite.

No, not a classic car (we refer you to Classic & Sports Car for that) but the new ‘W214’ E-Class, which is one of the oldest model lines from one of the oldest car manufacturers. By Mercedes-Benz’s own count, it is the 10th generation of a largely unbroken lineage going back to 1947.

Despite being very keen to refer to its heritage (and why wouldn’t it be?), Mercedes isn’t a particularly nostalgic company. It has come up with radical designs, such as the original A-Class and Smart City Coupé, while its electric cars are really exploiting the aerodynamics and design possibilities that an EV offers.

Unlike BMW with the 5 Series and i5, Mercedes is choosing to keep the electric EQE and combustion-engined E-Class apart. According to the literature, the new E-Class needs to balance tradition with modernity and ‘build a bridge’ between traditional exec saloons and the tech-filled EVs of the future.

Plenty of buyers are not ready for their car to be a smartphone on wheels, so that mission could well strike a chord. To find out whether the E-Class might succeed, we have one with all the toys but probably the most traditional powertrain available: a 2.0-litre diesel engine.

DESIGN AND ENGINEERING

AAAAC

From the outside at least, the E-Class has none of the shock value of its rival from Munich. It is resolutely a three-box saloon (an estate remains available) with a long bonnet, a well-defined bootlid, generally clean lines and few fripperies, apart from some tasteful details. It is inoffensively good looking: painted ivory beige, it would be a welcome sight were it to greet you when walking out of Frankfurt airport.

Mercedes doesn’t say much about the structural engineering of the new E-Class, most likely because it is a development of the outgoing car. Unlike the 5 Series, the E-Class doesn’t need to share its platform with its electric counterpart, and after decades of building ICE and even plug-in hybrid saloons, the recipe has been largely perfected.

Or has it? Mercedes still struggles to package the battery pack for the plug-in hybrid models. Petrol and diesel versions have a slightly bigger boot than an equivalent 5 Series, but the tables ar

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