We explore the entry level option of the E Class range, the E 200
The entry to E-Class ownership now starts with the E 200. It seems that most players in the luxo set now have to get their moderately large sedans in under the $100k mark with the E 200 carrying a $99,900 price tag. This mimics moves by Volvo with its S90, and BMW with the upcoming 5 Series. Though the market for large luxury sedans isn’t big, that hasn’t stopped Mercedes offering seven Es, with four of those powered by a four-cylinder engine. There’s the 220d, a 350e plug-in on the way and two tunes of the 1991cc turbopetrol; the 200 with 135kW and 300Nm, and the E 300 with 180kW and 370Nm.
We believe the E 200 would suffice as it’s well specified for a base model; there’s the new twin-screen display in the cabin, adaptive dampers, smart key, 360 degree camera, nine airbags and all the active driver assistance systems. The 300 adds real leather trim, heated front seats, air suspension, LED adaptive lights and 20s but costs $20,000 more.
The E sports Merc’s semi-autonomous driving features, the active cruise and lane keeping functions working over an increased range, and it introduces automated lane changing. With the active cruise on, simply indicate and the E will move across lanes if it’s all clear behind. The system is a bit polite however requiring a decent-sized gap to pull into. I would have missed my off-ramp on the motorway had I not taken over control as the gap was sufficient to move across without incurring the wrath of the driver behind, who must have been genuinely surprised to see a big Mercedes sedan with its indicator active before changing lanes.
The rise of driver assistance systems and their reliance on clear road markings might cause a few problems in years to come around road works. While the E 200 made a pretty good fist of the mess of lines on Auckland’s North Western construction zone/motorway, there were a couple of places where the inconsistent markings tripped up both the lane keeping and the lane departure functions.
The E gets about in a refined manner, the ride elegant and the 2.0-litre’s low-end torque sufficient for round-town ease. The steering is light and with Merc’s typical generous steering lock, city driving is fairly effortless, particularly if you let the active cruise sort out the stop/start drama in heavy traffic. If you’re not really one for interactive driving, the E will do you fine as it’s not a car that really connects, but rather it pampers. The company claims 6.4L/100km overall for fuel use, and high nines are what you’ll see during city driving.
The big display panels that comprise the instruments and the infotainment system, dubbed the ‘widescreen cockpit’, have multiple layers of functionality to scroll through, though once you’ve found a layout with the information you’re after, you tend not to swap between them. And once you have mastered the new touchpad controllers on the steering wheel, you find yourself being less reliant on the scrolling mouse device to operate all the multitudes of functionality on board.
The styling is deliberately understated on the E 200, looking like a big C-Class and that additional length lends itself to more accommodating rear quarters, and a larger boot.
The E 200 is hardly a car that excites, but you do have to admire its ability to do many things with ease, and some of them all by itself.
|Model||Mercedes Benz E 200||Price||$99,900|
|Engine||1991cc, IL4, T/DI, 135kW/300Nm||Drivetrain||9-speed auto, rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||6.4L/100km||C02 Output||144g/km|