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2021 E-Class: The best-seller made better

S Muralidhar | Updated on April 15, 2021

Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class gets an update to retain its appeal in the midst of a sea of SUVs and fresh competition. Still the long wheelbase, and still the sedan to buy from the 3-pointed star

The E-Class is the most important model in Mercedes-Benz India’s wide portfolio. It has been popular for years and continues to stay relevant and appealing despite the huge jump in preference for sports utility vehicles. It did help when Merc decided to bring in the long wheelbase version of the ‘E’ a few years ago. Now, after the facelift was unveiled by Stuttgart last year, MB India has brought it in to retain that one-in-three buyer of a three-pointed star.

The facelift brings over the engine choices that the E-Class was already offering: the two 4-cylinders, one each of petrol and diesel in the E220d and E200, and the in-line 6-cylinder diesel engine in the E350d. But, the best bits are inside the facelifted ‘E’, with the plush cabin taking rear seat comfort almost to the level of the S-Class.

Design

Mercedes-Benz’s tradition of giving the E-Class more than the average nip and tuck facelift continues. The 2021 model’s exterior changes are quite significant making it look a fair bit different compared to the outgoing model. The light elements get a big makeover with the headlamps and tail-lamps becoming narrower and housing simpler LED light signatures that now resemble the design configuration that was first started in the new A-Class. The LED DRLs are now in a simple inverted ‘L’ design. The diamond grille you see in these pics are of the E350d sporting the AMG trim. The other trim variants sport a slightly more hexagonal double slatted grille.

 

Step to the side and the size and strength of the new E-Class stands out with its stretched long wheelbase profile. The 18-inch rims (17-inch in the other trim variants) and the twin bulges on the bonnet slab, which Merc refers to as power domes, make the new ‘E’ seem sporty and powerful. The elegant flowing lines of the sedan, with its long bonnet, pushed back passenger area and the stubby boot give it a very aerodynamic profile. The tail-lamps are also narrow units now with crystalline light elements. The chrome garnish on the boot lid and the dual tail-pipes peeking out of the diffuser enhance the perception of width at the rear. The fenders in the AMG trim are sportier than in the others.

Cabin

The facelifted E-Class gets a few additional features and new connected tech in the cabin. The first impression, as before, is the amount of space inside the cabin and the super plush seats with their wide squabs and thick side bolsters, promising you a comfortable ride. The rear seats with the soft headrests and their 37-degree incline adjustment are even more comfortable. Making it even more inviting to experience is the generous amount of legroom, thanks to the long wheelbase liberating even more space at the rear. Rear passengers also get a centre armrest with storage, charging slots at the back of the front seats, and in the top trim variants, even a tablet for controlling the infotainment and seat functions.

The 3-spoke steering wheel in the AMG trim line is new with a new set of controls that are different from the Blackberry-style square touchpad controls in the previous model

 

The tall transmission tunnel at the rear may make it uncomfortable for a third adult as a middle passenger. But, two passengers can sit in nearly as much comfort as in an S-Class. The dashboard layout and other controls are nearly the same. The 3-spoke steering wheel in the AMG trim line is new with a new set of controls that are different from the Blackberry-style square touchpad controls in the previous model. The cabin is offered with a range of trim and theme options, with the most luxurious being the AMG trim. My test mule wore a cream and tropez blue theme with large swathes of open pore ashwood trim on the centre console and the dashboard. Chrome embellishments, knobs and controls, including the special circular aircon vents keep the cabin classy. The 12.3-inch touchscreen and the similarly sized digital instrument cluster sit comfortably in the midst of what seem like hand-stitched leather panels and carved wood inserts. The 2021 model, of course, gets the latest generation NTG 6 MBUX system and Mercedes Me Connect for providing connected car features and OTA updates.

 

The cabin of the new ‘E’ is still the best in the segment. Ambient lighting, active park assist, power closing doors, 360-degree camera and electrically adjustable memory seats at the rear are some of the features that really stand out. A lot of these are standard across the range of trims on offer.

Performance

The 2021 E-Class is offered with three powertrain options. The E 350d with its in-line 6-cylinder diesel engine is paired with Merc’s 9G-TRONIC gearbox. This 2,925cc engine generates 286hp of peak power and 600Nm of torque. My test mule was the top-trim AMG line and this powertrain barely gives away that it is a diesel. It is extremely refined and easy to find the sweet spot while working with this powertrain, even though there might be just that odd occasion on the road when you feel a little more power would have been nicer. But the refinement in the cabin simply blew me away. It is nearly whisper quiet and gear shifts are quick and imperceptible if you drive with a light right foot. This in-line 6 engine has been offered by Merc in quite a few of its other model lines and replaces the V6 from the outgoing model ‘E’.

 

The other engine I tested was the 4-cylinder, 1991cc petrol in the E 200. Delivering 197hp of power and 320Nm of torque, this engine is also paired to the 9G-TRONIC transmission. This engine is not as quick as the diesel for the 0-100kmph sprint, but on the go and with the engine in the mid-rev band, it feels more eager and manages to handle quick lane changes and overtakes with ease. But the long wheelbase E is hardly the car that you’d want to throw into corners, even though the steering is nicely weighted and very precise. The third powertrain on offer is the 4-cylinder, 1950cc diesel in the E 220d, which puts out 194hp and 400Nm.

 

Bottom line

The ride quality in the 2021 E-Class is excellent for back benchers. A slightly wallowy, cushioned ride offered by the air suspension in the AMG trim is perfect for city roads and slow moving traffic. In Sport mode, the suspension stiffens up and would be the ideal setting for long distance driving. The steering too tightens, and the engine response is quicker. The comfort mode setting may not be the most ideal if you are passing through some of the sections of road that have many speed breakers. All said, if you are chauffeur-driven, the rear seat of the new ‘E’ is a great place to be. Yet, get behind the wheel and this can be a lot of fun too.

Prices for the new E-Class start at ₹63.6 lakh for the E 200 and go up to ₹80.9 lakh for the E 350d AMG trim. This is a worthy upgrade to Merc’s most popular sedan.

Published on April 15, 2021

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