Mercedes-Benz E-class long-wheelbase first drive
- Published On: 14 February 2017
- 7 min read
Mercedes-Benz has brought in the popular E-class in an all-new, ultra-luxurious, long-wheelbase avatar. And the first impressions are really good.
With the all-new E-class, Mercedes-Benz has effectively pushed the luxury car game forward in India, and it’s done so by introducing a long-wheelbase version of the model here. This is the first time that a car in this segment has arrived in an extended-wheelbase form in India, and the German automaker has developed the car specifically for Indian buyers. Rear seat space and comfort is of course of foremost importance on the new E-class, but for those who want to have an equally engaging experience from behind the wheel, there’s also a potent 258hp diesel V6 that you can treat yourself to.
A more economical 2.0-litre diesel too will be introduced on the E-class, but at a later stage. The other option you have is that of a 184hp 2.0-litre petrol, but let’s stick to the more powerful diesel for now.
On the Outside
A quick walk around the car is all you need to understand how long this car really is. It looks every bit as classy and elegant as it should, and, in fact, you may even mistake it for the bigger S-Class, unless you spot the sporty front grille of course. The design is clean and the long bonnet, along with the massive three-meter-plus wheelbase, makes it look like a baby Maybach.
What the enormous wheelbase also points at is copious amounts of cabin space. Fully loaded variants also come with air suspension all around, for that magic carpet ride. The car’s 120mm ground clearance, though, could pose a bit of a problem when driving over some of the taller speed breakers. The suspension does get a ‘lift’ function that can raise the car’s ride height by 15mm, but more on that in a bit.
On the inside
With a wheelbase that big, it’s no surprise that there’s more cabin space in the E-class than you will ever need. The highlight, of course, is the acres of legroom in the back and what further enhances the sense of space there is abundant use of white artico leather and white carpets. Comfort level is excellent, with the seat offering you the perfect amount of bolstering all around. You can even electrically recline the seat back, and what's nice is that Merc has given the new E the same soft pillow-like headrest as the S-class. To top it all off, you can even control the position of the front passenger seat to free up more space.
Other neat touches include controls on both doors for both rear windows and blinds, and a large panoramic sunroof. Despite all the space at the back, it’s a place best for two people, as the big central tunnel intrudes into the middle passenger’s leg-room. Nevertheless, the rear section gets a three-zone climate control, and you can light the interior in 64 colours, separately for the front and rear. However, features like cup holders and audio controls for the rear seats are missing.
Up front, you have a nice and big 12.3-inch infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard, but it doesn’t get touch functionality, so you still have to fidget with the touchpad and jog dial to operate it. You can also control the infotainment system with the tiny touchpads that are placed on the steering wheel. One issue here is that, unlike the international car that comes with a full-digital instrument cluster, the Indian model gets a more conventional analogue setup.
The features list also includes a 13-speaker, 590W Burmester surround sound system and 360-degree camera which really comes in handy when navigating this massive car.
This being a Merc, it’s needless to say that the cabin really feels special. Bits really worth mentioning include the leather-covered dashboard, the stunning-looking chromed-out vents, and the super plush front seats that are covered in soft and supple leather.
From behind the wheel
This being a luxury sedan, the ride is of prime importance, and the new E-class really feels like it’s gliding on a cushion of air in ‘Comfort’ mode. However, step up the pace a bit in this mode and you’re likely to feel a bit uneasy, as the car floats and pitches like a big boat.
The ride feels much more hunkered down in Sport and Sport+ modes, and, in these modes, the ride isn’t overly harsh either. About the aforementioned ‘lift’ function that the suspension comes with, it allows you to increase the ground clearance of the car by 15mm, which allows you to go over most speed bumps. However, the car is likely to bottom out if it is loaded with luggage and four passengers. Also, the system takes too long to raise the car, which makes it impractical to use on a regular basis.
Coming to that butter-smooth V6 diesel engine, it makes driving this limousine an absolute delight. For a start, you can barely hear it from the rear seat, but the real way to enjoy this motor is from behind the wheel. It revs freely all the way to 4,500rpm and pulls cleanly. It’s mated to Mercedes’ new nine-speed automatic gearbox, which puts down the engine’s power quite nicely and efficiently. The car comfortably cruises at around 100kph, with the engine spinning at as low as 1,500rpm. Also, it’s quite brisk at gathering speed, to the effect that it almost doesn’t feel like a luxury limo in the way it speeds away to 100kph from standstill in just 6.6sec.
If you plan on staying at the helm a lot, it would be best not to drive in Comfort mode as there’s too much pitching and bobbing in this setting. The best way to drive it is to switch to Sport mode where the car feels composed and you can exploit that wonderful engine and gearbox nicely. The Sport+ mode makes the car even better to drive.
Is it worth the money?
This is a car you must consider if you are looking for a car with an ultra-comfy back-seat ride. Space at the rear is absolutely outstanding, and, as with Mercs generally, everything inside exudes a sense of occasion. But this is also a car that’s a thorough joy from behind the wheel. It’s got more than enough power to satisfy your right foot, and, in Sport and Sport+ mode, it even handles quite nicely. It is not a driver’s car like some of its rivals and a few key features are also missing, and, at an estimated ₹65 to ₹70 lakh, it won't be cheap. But think of it as an E-class that can deliver S-class levels of comfort and luxury, and that extra stretch it has makes it quite a bargain.