Mercedes Benz Saloon E Class

What is it?

The E 200 is the sole petrol version of the new Mercedes-Benz E-class sedan on offer in India. Come 2018, there will be another petrol in the form of the sporty Mercedes-AMG E 43 (albeit in regular wheelbase avatar). But for now, the E 200 is the only version of the big E to service the needs of buyers who’d just prefer a petrol engine under the hood of their cars. At current prices, the E 200 is also the de-facto entry point to the E-class range. Its Rs 54.42 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) price makes it marginally cheaper than the E 220d (Rs 55.56 lakh), though the diesel’s lower running costs would even things out after purchase.

On the outside, there is only the badging to differentiate an E 200 from an E 220d. Both make use of the same five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels; the pricier E 350d is distinguishable by its more intricate 10-spoke alloys of the same size. Under the skin too, the E 200 is closer to the E 220d in its use of coil springs rather than the E 350d’s air suspension.    

Powering the E 200 is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine that makes 184hp at 5,500rpm and 300Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm. The engine found use on the last-gen E 200 as well, but on the new E-class it comes mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox in place of the older car’s seven-speed unit.   

What’s it like on the inside?

There is nothing new to report about the E 200’s cabin, though our test car did feature the darker colour theme, which should be far easier to keep clean than the lighter cream scheme that customers can also specify their E-class with. From the comfy driver’s seat, the cabin feels like a properly luxurious space, with high-quality materials in use all around. But like the other versions of this long-wheelbase E-class, the place to be is at the rear. There is, literally, acres of legroom in the back and what ups the luxury quotient is the option to recline the rear backrest at the touch of a button. Power operated blinds for the rear windows and soft pillows for the rear headrests are part of the package too, though the leather used in the cabin isn’t the real stuff but man-made Artico leather. It does look convincing enough.

The E 200 also gets dual sunroofs, programmable ambient lighting, auto parking, paddle shifters and steering-mounted touch pads to operate the infotainment system. However, like the E 220d, the E 200 misses out on memory function for the front seats, a 360-degree camera and Burmester sound system that are standard fit on the E 350d.

What’s it like to drive?

Listen to an E 200 at idle from the outside and you might mistake it for a diesel. It sounds gruff and borderline clattery. That being said, the experience is vastly different from inside the cabin. Noise levels at idle are admirably low and even on the go, it feels quiet and hushed. Our sound-testing equipment corroborates our findings, recording fewer decibels for the E 200 than the E 220d at idle, full revs, 50kph and 80kph. The levels of refinement of the petrol version are sure to be of interest to the E’s target clientele.

Performance is impressive enough too. Reaching 100kph from standstill takes 8.62sec (the E 220d takes 8.81sec) and kickdown acceleration is suitably brisk too. The E 200 responds really well to even small taps on the throttle pedal and feels peppy and light for what is a very large car. The Merc picks up speed well with the gearbox, every-ready to shift to the right ratio. Manual gearshifts via the paddle shifters are also quick and the system is quite accommodating with downshifts, letting you go down multiple ratios at a time. Driving modes further help alter the driving experience but they only impact engine and gearbox characteristics and not those of the suspension.  

In general, the E’s suspension does a really good job of dealing with the bumps and potholes that make up our roads. Pay close attention and some of the surface irregularities will register at low speeds but at higher speeds there is really nothing to complain about. You also get good feedback from the well-weighted steering, but even so, there’s no escaping the sheer size of the car around bends. Also, the three-metre-long wheelbase calls for some deft manoeuvring over the largest of speed breakers but, more often than not, clearance is ample enough.

Should I buy one?

If you are someone who likes to drive and wants a petrol luxury car that puts emphasis on driver engagement, then there are more suitable options than the E 200 like Jaguar’s XF 25T and BMW’s 530i. But if you are primarily going to use the backseat and relegate driving duties to your chauffeur, the E 200 is perhaps the best of the options on offer. Like the other Es, it’s the sense of space and rear seat comfort that is the big draw here too, but the petrol engine backs up these attributes with its impressive refinement. In essence, the E 200 is quiet, relaxing and luxurious. What’s not to like?