Revitalized Mercedes-Benz E-Class - First Drive Impressions
We drive the updated Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG E-Class range with a host of revisions to the exterior and interior.
It's hard to believe that the current W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been with us for four years already. Unveiled in 2016 with models going on sale for the 2017 model year, the E-Class has held its head up high in the interim. The time has now come for it to be refreshed and updated as we go into the 2021 model year.
With a history stemming back to the first unibody 'Ponton' model of 1953, the W120, it was only in 1993 when the naming convention saw it officially dubbed the E-Class, using the E as a prefix, rather than the E suffix to indicate fuel injection.
Available in 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe and 2-door cabriolet body styles, the E-Class covers a wide range of customer demands and desires. This can be credited for the E-Class' success with the E-Class holding the accolade for the best-selling non-SUV model, making it a model range that Mercedes-Benz themselves believe is their backbone.
2021 model range updates
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet
The coupe and cabriolet versions of the updated E-Class see the front and rear visages altered to create a more cohesive, sporty look, in line with their elegant body lines. As such, both models receive updated front ends with sleeker headlights and a prominent A-frame grille. The grille is finished off in the embossed diamond pattern with single spars reaching out from either side of the central badge as both models are only available in AMG-Line trim.
New, reprofiled and reshaped full-LED headlights rest on either side of the grille and prominent air intakes rest below them. These are separated by a chrome garnish in the lower section of the centre air dam. At the rear, new 2-piece LED taillights complement the straked side profiles.
Both E200 and E300 models are available in the coupe and cabriolet, both utilizing a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. In the E200 you will receive 145 kW of power with 320 Nm torque available from 1 650 RPM. This allows the E200 Coupe to sprint to 100 km/h from a standstill in 7.5-seconds. The Cabriolet does the sprint in 7.8-seconds.
The E300 will give you 190 kW and 370 Nm torque and the Coupe will complete the standing start sprint in only 6.4-seconds with the Cabriolet slightly slower with a 6.8-second figure for the same dash.
Interior trimmings have also been updated with the Coupe and Cabriolet receiving a new capacitive touch steering wheel. Available in full leather or an optional Supersports design, this three-spoke wheel features new controls that respond to the touch of the fingers rather than having physical buttons. Those that are familiar with the existing touchpad arrangement will grasp the functionality but for others this will take some time to get used to.
Two new interior finishes have also been added, open-pore ash wood trim, and an aluminium and light carbon fibre finish.
Mercedes-AMG E53 4MATIC+ Coupe and Cabriolet
The hot E53 models have not escaped the treatment and you will find similar revisions to the front, rear and sides of the E53 Coupe and Cabriolet as well.
Up front, the reprofiled headlight house full-LED elements and are separated with a large, A-frame grille with 12 vertical slats, commonly known as the Panamericana design. Striking new 19-inch wheels can be found in the corners and these can be up-sized to a new 20-inch design.
Rounding off the stylistic changes, the rears receive the same 2-piece LED taillight arrangement and these rest above the rear diffuser element that houses the quad-exit exhaust tips that have become synonymous with the 53 range. The optional AMG Night Package will see the chrome garnish along the windows and mirrors deleted and replaced with gloss black trims.
Inside, the E53 range remains stylish and dominated by the MBUX twin-screen infotainment system with its dual 10.25-inch screen setup. This can be further enhanced with the dual 12.3-inch screen arrangement. Thes models also receive the new capacitive touch steering wheel.
The power plant remains the 3.0-litre straight-six unit with turbocharging and electrical assistance from the 48V starter-generator to fill in the gaps. You will get 320 kW and 520 Nm torque from this powerplant and it is mated to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G gearbox. The 0 - 100 km/h dash is completed in 4.4-seconds for the Coupe and 4.6-seconds for the Cabriolet.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan and Mercedes-AMG E63 S
Both the Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG E-Class sedans get the extensive makeover that the Coupe and Cabriolet have received. This sees the wider grilles, sleeker LED headlights and reprofiled taillights. The interiors get the full MBUX experience with the natural speaking Mercedes Assistant on hand to alter vehicle parameters and carry out infotainment and environment functions. These models are fitted with the same dual-screen arrangement as the Coupe and Cabriolet.
Sedan models are also treated to the latest Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC that provides GPS monitored route-based speed adjustment, recognises traffic jams and backups and will adjust the cruise control speed in accordance with the environment and the road situation. This is controlled through the new capacitive touch steering wheel with its new three-spoke design.
At the heart of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan rests the choice of two 4-cylinder engines; one petrol option in the form of the E200 and a diesel derivative in the E220d. The E200 produces 145 kW and 320 Nm torque for a 0 to 100 km/h sprint time of 7.4-seconds. The E220d model matches this time of 7.4-seconds despite producing 143 kW and 400 Nm torque.
In the E63 4MATIC+ you will get the tried and tested 4.0-litre biturbo V8 that churns out 450 kW and 850 Nm torque for a sprint time of only 3.4-seconds. It remains an absolute beast to drive and with the SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9G gearbox, you are assured that you will have the right gear, no matter what.
The E-Class remains a sweet-spot in the Mercedes-Benz line-up and it's easy to see why it is as successful as it has been over the last three decades. Technology continues to filter down from the S-Class and continual improvements are made.
It's a tough product to fault and the only criticism I can level at it is the new steering wheel that will infuriate many with the capacitive touch surfaces. Time will tell whether this is indeed the way forward or if it will require a serious rethink.