A fitting entry to the luxury sedan ranks without the sky-high price, the Mercedes-Benz E200 is a proper executive luxury offering for those wanting to stick to a budget.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz E200 is an intriguing luxury sedan. On the one hand, it doesn’t get the power and performance of some of its more brawny siblings within the E (and indeed C-Class) portfolio, but on the other, it gets all the luxury inclusions, safety and technology at a hard to believe starting price. Let’s take a closer look then at what makes this exceptional value sedan tick.
With pricing starting from $89,900 plus on-road costs, there’s little doubt the E200 represents impressive value for money. The next step up the E-Class ladder is the E220d, which starts from $92,900 plus on-road costs, while the E350d costs $134,900 plus on-roads.
The previous model’s flagship E63 AMG S was a performance monster, but the price tag was commensurate with that performance too, weighing in around the quarter of a million dollar mark. An exhaust note you’d give an internal organ for doesn’t come cheap after all.
While there are torquier or more brisk engines beneath the bonnets of the E220d and E350d respectively, stepping into the base model doesn’t mean you miss out on any of the other good stuff, that makes the E-Class range such a flagship technological masterpiece. While the S-Class still sits atop the Mercedes-Benz technology tree, there remains a staggering amount of crunching power within the E-Class.
As tested, pricing for the E200 starts from the aforementioned $89,900 plus on-road costs, with the black non-metallic paint a standard offering. The macchiato beige leather interior comes as part of the ‘Launch Edition’ package, which costs $1880 and also brings bigger wheels to the party.
The tyre pressure monitoring system adds another $650 and heated front seats, $900. That means, the total cost of our car here is $93,330 plus on-road costs. That’s right, this E-Class rings the till comfortably under the six-figure mark.
Standard equipment inclusions are many, but the highlights are: ‘Comand' infotainment system, DAB+ radio, digital owner’s manual, interior light package with LED technology, one touch power winders for all four windows, Nappa leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, Agility Select with five driving programs and speed sensitive steering.
It doesn't stop there. There's also Eco Stop/Start, parking pilot with Active Parking Assist, 360-degree camera, Adaptive Brake with holding function, nine airbags, acceleration skid control, ABS, brake assist, brake pad wear indicator, Driving Assistance Package, ESP with Crosswind Assist and run-flat safety tyres.
The cabin is, as has been the E-Class wont for some time, a work of art. Every detail is beautifully executed, every stitch perfect, every piece of trim flows cleanly into the next. In many respects, the cabin gives the impression of having been hewn from one solid block. A block of something expensive and difficult to source.
Mercedes-Benz’s Comand infotainment system doesn’t match German rival BMW’s iDrive system for outright functionality and ease of use, but, that aside, the E-Class cabin is a shining example of the best the segment has to offer.
The twin 12.3-inch control screens are both enormous, and extremely high-end in their appearance. In fact, one screen alone would be impressive, two even more so. Sitting behind the wheel of the E-Class is like taking control of an expensive command centre rather than a car. The screens are both positioned perfectly within the dash to minimise glare and reflection, and are always easy to decipher, even with the most brief glance. While Comand is a little complex to work through, once you get the hang of it and understand the depth of the menus on offer, there’s nothing especially difficult about it.
The driver’s screen can even be customised to resemble gauge clusters of classic Mercs past, and while they look pretty cool when you do opt for that display, I liked the large tacho/digital speedo combo for most practical applications. If you opt for that large digital dial in the centre, you can then customise the two displays either side of the central gauge.
The displays can show the driver a range of different information compositions like average fuel, average speed, fuel consumption etc. Think of something you want to know about the car, and the E200 display can probably cover it for you. It can even be a case of ‘too much information’ and you find yourself looking for the most simple display. Tech heads among you will be enamoured.
The infotainment screen is used to control the vehicle settings and features clever tech like a digital owner’s manual, but it also allows you to manipulate every other feature of the E200 that can be customised, right down to interior mood lighting, which can be run through a kaleidoscope of colours. We’d never admit it publicly, but we liked purple.
...I write ‘we’, but I mean ‘I’. I liked purple.
The Bluetooth connection is excellent, but Apple CarPlay/Android Auto makes that effectively redundant anyway, and viewing your phone display replicated on a huge, crisp screen like that of the E-Class is impressive to say the least.
We loved using the mapping function when our phone was connected, along with audio playback, which worked faultlessly. Even the digital owner’s manual is (surprisingly) easy to work out. The propriety satellite navigation system is also excellent, so those of you without a smartphone (or those not wanting to eat into their data allowance), fear not.
The 360-degree camera and parking assistance is as good, if not better than, any system we’ve ever tested from any manufacturer. Consistently accurate, and always clear, it makes moving the E-Class around into spaces particularly easy. Of all the standard tech inclusions, it’s this incredibly clever system that is perhaps the most impressive.
You’d expect the seating to be commodious and you’d be pleased with the reality. Front row manoeuvrability is second to none, you never get any lower back pain no matter how long you’re on the road, and there’s more than enough adjustment for anyone to get comfortable.
While the second row isn’t massive, it is comfortable with plenty of legroom even if seated behind taller drivers. It makes the E-Class the real choice over a C-Class if you have to move your family around regularly. In short, the E-Class cabin is a comfortable and incredibly well-appointed place to be. Every design element seems focused on driver and passenger comfort.
As you’ll see in the video that accompanies this review, we were a little surprised by the engine at start up. It’s a little gruff compared to what we were expecting, but that is ironed out the minute the revs rise. At that point, the engine becomes much smoother, quieter and almost imperceptible – exactly as a luxury sedan should be.
The engine isn’t especially powerful, generating 135kW and 300Nm, but it matches up well with the nine-speed (9G-Tronic) automatic transmission to deliver a smooth driving experience once you’re on the move. Around town, we found the E200 to be incredibly efficient returning 8.9L/100km against an ADR claim of 6.4L/100km. It’s almost like you’re wafting round on a magic carpet, once you get moving, such is the refinement of the drivetrain.
The cabin remains quiet right up to highway speed, and there’s almost no wind or road noise even at 110km/h. There’s a palpable understanding that the E-Class comes from a country where drivers routinely blast from one side to the other on the freeway, such is the effortless way it chews through distance. If you head out of the city into the country regularly, you’ll love the E-Class.
Find some twisty roads though, and the E-Class’ only flaw becomes more obvious. Despite the various drive modes, and adjustable suspension settings, the E-Class is very much a grand tourer rather than a sporting sedan. Compared to something like a 5-Series BMW, the E-Class pitches and dives, rolls from side to side, and doesn’t exhibit the same, measured body control.
Admittedly, we’re picking on a driving discipline few E-Class owners will ever expect their vehicle to nail, but the point needs to be made. If you don’t go looking for roads that require some measure of sporting pretension though, you’ll never even know this flaw exists.
The main question facing the E200, is whether it befits the entry into medium luxury sedan ownership and the answer is a resounding yes. It’s a high quality, beautifully built, well appointed luxury car, that feels a lot more expensive than its sub 90k starting price would indicate. You get the badge cred that comes with Mercedes-Benz ownership, but you also get a luxury driving experience.