Mercedes-Benz E-Class 200: A smooth operator
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Quietly understated, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class 200 sedan is a real lane changer
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class luxury sedans have long been a mainstay of the German marque's line-up in New Zealand, and the latest models set new benchmarks for technology, driver aids and safety.
This is Driven's 2016 Car of the Year, and is the most advanced vehicle produced by the company.
In a marketplace now dominated by SUVs and utes, how has such a conservative four-door luxury sedan won so much praise -- not only was it our Car of the Year, it was awarded the same prize in the AA/NZ Motoring Writers' Guild Car of the Year awards, along with a swag of other accolades.
To help answer this question, Mercedes-Benz has given us an entry-level E-Class 200 sedan as a long-term test car, to help find out what it is like to live with the vehicle.
During the next three months we will report on the extraordinary features of the Iridium silver metallic E200, including its advanced semi-autonomous driving features.
There are seven models in the E-Class range, starting with our E200 , which sells for $99,900 plus on-road costs, through to the Mercedes-AMG E 4.3 sedan, selling for $166,900 plus ORC.
To get an idea of the range, Mercedes-Benz Driven got behind the wheel of an E400 sedan (selling for $149,900) for a week before we took delivery of the E200 model.
That car was fitted with a nappa leather interior, 4-MATIC all-wheel-drive, and sat on 20in alloy wheels. It travels from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds, and is powered by a 3-litre six cylinder engine that puts out 245kW of power and 480Nm of torque.
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The E400 is a superb sports sedan, with great road manners. And like "our" E200 model, it glides along the motorway effortlessly, with the engine growling on acceleration but purring once the car is moving.
Although they share the same body, the E200 sedan has a different character. It is powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged engine that puts out 135kW, and 300Nm of torque. It takes a full 7.7 seconds to reach 100 km/h from a standing start.
There is no roar from the engine, just a quiet hum as the 9-speed automatic gearbox slides imperceptibly through the gears.
It sits on 18in five-spoke allow wheels, and is powered through the rear wheels.
Instead of nappa leather the E200 has ARTICO upholstery, a man-made leather alternative, and the seats are just as comfortable as in the higher-end model.
One of the most praised features of the E Class, which has been available in its current form here for almost a year, is the huge high-resolution twin-screens that run across two-thirds of the entire dashboard.
Although they are among the largest screens available on a new car, there are no problems with glare or reflections, as there are on some new cars. The resolution is so good you can see individual raindrops on the screen.
The widescreen cockpit can be set to display the internal features of the E200, navigation, audio options and the multiple drive mode options.
The Command Online Infotainment system is able to connect to the internet, has fast hard-disc navigation with 3D map display and real-time dynamic route guidance information.
It has smartphone integration through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Pairing the smartphone with the car is a quick, easy process that takes only seconds.
There are LED high performance headlights with integral daytime running lamps and LED tail lights, with automatic dipping ability.
The eyebrow-like headlights are a feature of the E Class range's appearance.
The Agility Select feature offers five driving programmes, and there is scope to adjust the suspension with a selective damping system to suit the individual driver.
Among the safety features is a 360-degree camera with dynamic guidelines, and electronic stability programme with Crosswind assist, and the models are all fitted with nine airbags, offering protection from front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passengers, sidebars for rear occupants, and a knee bag for the driver.
While some of these features contribute to the semi autonomous driving ability of the E200, after a week behind the wheel, it is clear there is a lot more to this car. It is exceptionally long and wide, so cannot be squeezed through narrow gaps on the road.
The sedan is 2065mm wide, including the rear vision mirrors, and 4923mm long, which means it takes up the full length or depth of most car parks. On the road the E Class is smooth and quiet, and has the ability to change lanes on the motorway by itself, and to park itself.
We will be exploring the semi-autonomous driving and safety features of the E200 in our next report, once we have had more time to become familiar with them.
In the meantime this large but sleek luxury sedan purrs along, making even a two-and-a-half hour weekly commute a stress-free pleasure. Stay tuned as we explore more about the Mercedes-Benz E200 sedan.
MERCEDES-BENZ E 200 SEDAN
PRICE: $99,900, plus optional Iridium Silver metallic paint, $1990, and ORC.
PRO: Comfortable, large and sophisticated touring sedan
CON: Look for more powerful models if you want roar power