Cars

Published on March 19th, 2017 | by Amirul Mukminin

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Mercedes-Benz E250 Avantgarde First Drive Review

Often seen as a symbol of success and affluence, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has come a long way since its inception some 60 years ago. Not unlike the vehicles that came before it, the latest generation – dubbed as the W213 – promises unrivalled opulence, combined with a myriad of new technology geared solely to heighten the driving experience. We took the E250 Avantgarde for a spin recently and found the new car has plenty to offer.

Safe to say there was no real surprise when the E-Class was revealed early last year. Looking very much like a smaller S-Class or a larger C-Class, the mid-size sedan now has more curves and sweeping lines to go with its well-balanced proportions. We like the rear end particularly, where the shape of tail lights, curvy tailgate and twin exhaust tips combine harmoniously to create a rather sporty facade.

The Avantgarde trim, which is also available on the E200 for the Malaysian market, gives the E-Class a more dynamic and athletic look through its front grille which has an integrated three-pointed star (as opposed to the E250 Exclusive’s bonnet mounted star), laurel wreath badge on the bonnet, chrome and aluminium elements, and 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. Additionally, the Agility Control suspension set-up with 15 mm lower ride height rounds off the sedan’s sporty look.

Step inside the cabin and immediately you will feel like you are in a five star hotel fit for Hollywood A-listers or for those who have made it in life. There is an array of luxurious materials that are nice to feel and touch, including the Artico leather upholstery which comes in nut brown, and well-built switches and buttons. Some of the elements might have been seen before (the quad air-conditioning vents, for instance) but that is something we can definitely live with.

The same thing can be said about the new Widescreen Cockpit, a 31.2-centimeter screen that is made of two 12.3-inch screens, one for the instrument cluster and another for the media display. There are three display styles to select from – Classic, Sport and Progressive. Classic uses a clean, twin-gauge design, Sport retains the double gauge layout but uses yellow text against a dark background, while Progressive puts the digital speedometer in the center with the tachometer on the outline.

Perhaps the real party trick here is the ambient lighting, which comes in 64 different colours to choose from. Using LED technology, the lighting can be dimmed or completely switched via the head unit.

The COMAND Online system has been given an extensive rework with separate setting menus for the vehicle and its system. Apart from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there are plenty of items to play with and this can be done via the rotary knob on the centre console or the small touchpads on the steering wheel.

The touchpads look trivial at first but are actually vital in keeping the driver focused on the road. They are pretty easy to use; just remember that the right side controls the instrument cluster while the left side controls the infotainment screen.

All four variants of the E-Class feature the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with different outputs. The E250 tested here packs 211 hp at 5,500 rpm and a healthy torque count of 350 Nm at as early as 1,200 rpm, more than enough to propel the 1.6-tonne mid-size saloon forward at a smile-inducing pace. While the insulation blocks much of the noise from entering the cabin, the mill does make some sweet noise that makes driving the E-Class all the more engaging.

The presence of nine forward gears really helps to deliver power efficiently to the rear wheels. The in-house 9G-Tronic gearbox and the engine feel like a match made in heaven, shifting through the gears seamlessly with no perceptible judder. RPM is kept low at cruising speeds, resulting in a rather serene driving environment while keeping the fuel consumption figures low.

Dialling up the driving mode into Sport or Sport+ brings the car to life with even more responsive throttle response and crisp gear change, while Comfort and Eco modes result in softer throttle feel. The transmission also works in a more hurried manner as part of its fuel-saving tactics.

Handling-wise, the E250 has a passive damping system tuned for all-round ride comfort on pretty much any road surface. While there is a hint of softness in the setup, the lowered suspension helps keep the car glued to the tarmac during high-speed manoeuvres. The vehicle could use more steering feel though we guess a light steering system as such would be a boon in a jam- packed urban traffic.

We feel that there is more to the new E-Class than just predictable styling and fancy gadgetry. For a car that is synonymous with comfort and elegance, the sedan is a joy to drive and we honestly don’t mind having one in our garage – well, perhaps in the more exciting E300 AMG Line trim. The RM420,888 asking price is steep even for a CBU offering but a day with the wonderful sedan from Sindelfingen may help you make sense of the figure.

Mercedes-Benz E250 Avantgarde Specifications
Engine: 16-valve DOHC, turbocharged four-cylinder
Capacity: 1,991 cc
Power: 211 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 350 Nm @ 1,200 rpm
Transmissiom: 9-speed automatic
0-100 km/h: –
Top speed: –
Price: RM420,888

 


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