I grew up in a Mercedes household.
My Dad owned several. Coupes, convertibles and sedans, including a tyre-shredding 450SEL, with a brawny 6.9 litre V8 shoehorned under the bonnet.
Over the years I’ve also had a few of Stuttgart’s finest live in my driveway. So I was looking forward to a steer of the latest one, with an ‘E’ on its bum.
The first thing that stands out about the diesel powered E220d, is its price; a remarkably low $92,900, about the same as it was in 1997, so your entrée into Mercedes E-class style, has never been more affordable.
It’s choc-full of up-to-the-minute safety, driving and entertainment technologies and it comes in a new and very smart-looking wrapper. In the black of the test car it looked sinister, sitting low and wide, with piercing LED headlights, a slight flare to the guards and contours along its sides.
Sizeable 19-inch AMG alloys, a panoramic sunroof and other bits and bobs heightened its appeal and even with these extras, the price still stays below a hundred grand. It’s a bargain.
Inside are leather trimmed seats, door panels, console and steering wheel which contrast smartly with gloss black surfaces, chrome trimming and not one but two 12.3-inch integrated into the dash, colour touchscreens. One for the instruments, controlled by switches on the steering wheel and the other for infotainment and pretty much everything else that’s operated by a touchpad in the console.
Stretching from the centre dash to the driver’s door and with crystal clear graphics, both screens are a cinch to use, even on the go. You can customise the instruments to read out what you want or select from the three base looks, Classic, Sport and Progressive and if you have too much time on your hands, you can always troll through the 60 colours on offer for the interior lighting.
Long gone are the days of an entry model Benz being as sparse as a cave. Standard goodies for the E220d include keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, front electric seats with memory function, LED headlights and stardust effect taillights, 360-degree camera, sat-nav, reverse camera with sensors and a substantial driver assistance package.
Behind the grille is a new 143kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel matched to a nine-speed autobox. At start up there is no diesel rattle and silky smooth best describes the driveline.
Gearchanges are invisible and forward progress is turbine like. And it is unbelievably economical, even when pressing on.
The E-class is a window to the future, being so clever it nearly drives itself and it shows the magnitude of Mercs technology. There is lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking, self, parking, blind spot assist, cross-traffic detection and semi-autonomous. It can even overtake on its own, moving you out to pass a slower vehicle and back again. Magic, but just a bit spooky too.
The best bit about these ‘assist’ technologies is they don’t rob you of the behind the wheel experience, which is top notch.
The E220d is a comfortable cruiser. It looks big outside but not from behind the wheel. Ride is supple, road noise negligible and handling, assuring.
It has the multi-drive modes to alter its on-road behaviour and after playing with each setting, I did what I suspect most owners will do and stuck in auto.
Its 400-newton metres comes on with gusto from early on making it fun to punt through corners and overtaking, effortless. It’s equally satisfying and relaxing behind the wheel when wafting along the highway or even tackling city streets.
The latest Mercedes E220d is a class act. It’s comfortable, quick, quiet, economical and its never been so affordable.
Check out our article from the Mercedes-Benz Accelerate Drive Day.