New car road test: Mercedes E-Class
THE Mercedes-Benz E-Class puts in an impressive performance. Beforehand, it felt like quite an expensive car. Now it feels like a car that's pricey but which offers a compelling value proposition. It drives with genuine polish, yet is capable of stepping from cruiser to carouser without breaking a sweat.
You'll need to pay attention when specifying the car as there's a tonne of choice available. Even the suspension choices can be dizzying, with the comfort-oriented DIRECT CONTROL suspension with selective damping system, a version of this with a 15mm lowering, an AMG Sports version and the AIRMATIC suspension that's fitted to the V8 cars.
All of the models of the E-Class family get an electromechanical Direct-Steer system as standard.
Operating the car is relatively easy and you rarely feel as if this Mercedes is imposing its will on you, unlike certain rivals I could mention.
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The abiding impression is that this is a very carefully considered vehicle, developed by a company steeped in a proud engineering tradition.
This generation E-Class first appeared in 2009 and received a series of rave reviews.
In truth, not a lot needed doing to it, but Mercedes has taken the opportunity to burnish its appeal still further, improve the efficiency of its engine line-up and really go to town on the halo model of the range, the astonishing E63 AMG.
In its own subtle way, the E-Class has slyly morphed into something you could really covet.
With more efficient four-cylinder engines, sharper styling and a re-jigged model range that offers better value, there's a lot to like.
It hasn't always been the most inspiring choice in its sector, but the latest E-Class makes a strong case for itself, not just amongst the typical heartland of Mercedes customers but also with younger buyers and those who would have turned to a BMW for driving excellence and Audi for design focus.
What's more, it has managed this without diluting its Stuttgart DNA. We'd call that an unqualified success.