Mercedes-Benz’s E 400 turbo-six is a cleaner, greener alternative to a luxury V8. It’s convincing on paper, but does it work on the road?
Base price: $150,900.
Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, 245kW/480Nm, 7-speed automatic, rear-drive, Combined economy 7.9 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 5.3 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4879mm long, 1474mm high, luggage capacity 540 litres, fuel tank 59 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels.
How it rates: 9/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? There was plenty that was new in the facelifted E-class launched last year. But only one variant had a new powerplant: the E 400, which boasts a 3.0-litre V6 with two turbochargers and some pretty serious performance.
The E 400 is impressive on paper, but then it needs to be: with the demise of the E 500 for our market, it’s actually taken up the mantle of that V8-powered machine.
The only V8 engine in the current E-class range is the E 63 AMG. And that’s a different car altogether…
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Whatever the specification sheet says, the E400’s blown V6 does not quite have the character of a big V8.
But is does have the performance, with truly remarkable acceleration and a surprisingly crisp engine note. Mind-boggling really, when you stop and think that this is a large luxury sedan with a 3.0-litre engine. It does 0-100km/h in just over five seconds, but can return under eight litres per 100km.
The chassis is typical Mercedes-Benz: it doesn’t smack you in the face with a sporting character, but the harder you drive it the more overwhelmingly accomplished it seems.
That’s one side of the E400. The other is the incredible amount of driver-assistance technology in the car. When it was launched, the E-class was arguably the closest thing to an autonomous car on sale; even now, it’s only been usurped by its more sophisticated sibling, the S-class.
With the Distronic Plus cruise control activated, the E400 does not merely keep the correct distance from the car in front (right down to standstill). It also self-steers in motorway driving, with the proviso that you must keep your hands on the wheel: not because it’s necessary for the system to function (far from it), but because you do need to be ready to take over for a sharp curve or emergency situation.
The E 400 also has pedestrian recognition and Cross Traffic Assist, which will slow or stop the car if traffic is approaching from the side at an intersection.
Consider this: a prototype S-class recently completed a 100km journey without a driver, using developments of exactly the same camera and radar hardware that’s fitted to the E400.
The future is here – it’s just waiting to properly introduce itself.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Mercedes-Benz has gone bigger on bling in its recent models, so the outwardly conservative style of the E-class (inside and out) is now adorned with a conspicuous quantity of silver and chrome-coloured stuff.
No point holding back on the luxury equipment, then. In addition to the long list of standard specification on the E 400, our test vehicle was fitted with the Exclusive package which brings multi-contour seats with climate control, Nappa leather, special interior trim for the steering wheel, instrument panel and roof lining, panoramic glass roof, television tuner and rear-seat entertainment system.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? In some respects the E-class seems outwardly old-school: it’s a thorough update of quite a conservative model.
But there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when so many regard the E-class as the quintessential Mercedes-Benz sedan.
The E 400 has staggering performance, highly advanced safety technology and superb build quality. Both state-of-the-art and a timeless classic.
- Air conditioning: Three-zone climate
- Audio: CD, iPod compatible
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Blind spot warning: Yes
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Driver footrest: Yes
- Gas discharge headlights: Bi-xenon
- Head-up display: No
- Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/Yes
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Lane guidance: Yes
- Leather upholstery: Yes
- Parking radar: Yes with camera
- Power boot or tailgate: Yes
- Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes
- Rear ventilation outlets: Yes including B-pillar
- Remote audio controls: Yes
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Seat height adjustment: Yes
- Self-parking technology: No
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
- Steering reach adjustment: Yes
- Stop-start: Yes
- Trip computer: Yes
Find a Mercedes E400 for sale here.