Following taking delivery of the SLS, collecting our new E Class the following week could have been quite a non-event, especially as I never really wanted
to sell the Range Rover Sport that it replaced.
However, after buying the SLS and the initial financial outlay and expected high running costs that car will entail, there was the need for me to have something more reasonable
in terms of running costs than the Range Rover, and no matter how much I liked that car, it was very expensive to run when doing the equivalent of 25k miles a year, all paid for by yours truly.
I'd been looking around for a few weeks on what to replace the RRS with and, whilst I'd only had that car a few months, such is the desirability of them (and subsequent lack of depreciation), it was financially easy to move it on without losing any significant value, despite me adding 10k miles to it
On the whole, buying a 1-year old RRS in white with black leather was, financially, one of my better car buying decisions.
I considered many of the usual suspects as a potential, with the criteria of 40mpg+, top class refinement (the RRS was VERY refined) yet retaining a degree of sportiness about it, something a 'bit' special so that it wasn't too hard to walk past the SLS every morning (otherwise I know I'd just get in the SLS, defeating the object!). It had to be reasonably practical with at least 4 seats and a big extendible boot so another 'sports' car was out of the question.
I thought the new-shape 330d or C350 saloon a bit to sensible, as was sticking with Jag and getting an XF 3.0S (and the dating interior and telematics in that car are now well behind the game), an Evoque (the design of which I like a lot) was 4-cylinder only and therefore sounded too much like a diesel (and just didn't promise enough efficiency), for some reason I rarely consider Audi's or VAG group cars so no point starting now and, well, that was it. Nothing stood out so I'd almost decided to keep the Range Rover.
Then, when I was looking at the SLS, I noticed the E-coupe again, something I considered when they first came out in 2009 in E500 form (but ended up opting for my first C63 instead). I'd originally disregarded it as I thought it would be too expensive but dealers appeared to be chucking money at them (I wasn't aware of the impending facelift at that time) and a quick look at broker prices showed some big discounts to be had. I test drove the E250 and E350 CDI's and found the V6's refinement to be worth the sacrifice in economy....as long as I could get it near to 40mpg! Having driven other 3-litre diesels of similar power (335d and XF 3.0D S), I was confident it would deliver what I needed it to.
So, I walked into Mercedes of Loughborough armed with my cheapest broker price and asked them to find a car with Comand, Memory Pack, Harmon Kardon, 'real' leather and then, if they matched the broker price, I'd buy it there and then. By that point I was aware of the facelift, so knew it would be almost impossible to get that spec as it would have to be an in-stock pre-facelift car to get the deal. Unbelievably, Inchcape had ONE unregistered car in their group in that exact spec in my most desirable of colour options, Diamond White with Red Leather. They actually beat the broker price and the deal was done.
So, two weeks in, what do I think of it?
Well, for me it's probably the most stress free car I've ever had....because I think it's the best built one I've ever had! For me to say this is something but there isn't a single rattle or unwanted noise anywhere. The build quality is exceptional for a mid-range car and it feels as-well (if not better) built than my SLS, even if the actual material quality is not as luxurious.
The car looks nice in an inoffensive way - it's not going to draw attention but then it's never going to offend anyone and the only change I would make is fit the 19 inch wheels - the 18's look a bit small.
Unfortunately, a set of 19's for this car is over £2k plus tyres so I'll be keeping the 18's and enjoying the superior ride comfort
The Diamond White is lovely though, although I've only seen it clean twice (in the showroom on the day I collected it and for about an hour last weekend when I cleaned it). The colour combo is perfect for me.
Inside, it's super comfortable with nice seats, plenty of space and a reasonable driving position. My only complaint, if I have one, is the driving position, where I find the instrument binnacle a little too high resulting in the need to have the steering wheel slightly higher that I would normally (to avoid cutting off the top of the instruments). Still, this doesn't detract from the comfort and, after having the heavily bolstered seats in the SLS, the less extreme ones on the E make a nice change (although nothing I've sat in beats the SLS's seats, which are frankly amazing). In fact, I'm being overly harsh on the driving position because, outside of the small issue of relationship between wheel and instruments, the driving position is actually top-notch that encourages a nice legs-out, arms-bent style.
The steering wheel is really nice to hold (when did Mercedes move to using such a think rim....I love it!) and I'm loving being back in a car with a first class telematics system - the new Comand in this car is awesome and unlike the older unit in my SLS and previous C63's, it has flawless phone integration, fantastic nav functionality and graphics and the Harman Kardon audio system (!!) is all I could ask for (and ever so slightly better than the system in the SLS
) If only it was fully iPhone compatible that would allow it to have internet connection with an Apple product......
On the Road
Smooth, quiet and refined. It is exactly what I wanted, although being über critical, it's a little 'dead' in feel, not the swiftest to change direction and the brakes feel like they have to be worked quite hard. But lets be honest, this is a back to back comparison with the SLS and my previous XKR-S so the fact these are just minor observations rather than detrimental to the experience is a real result for this car. It rides nicely (and very
quietly) on it's 18 inch castors, body control is good and its motorway stability is typically 'Germanic'....i.e. it tracks straight and true with no effort.
Refinement wise, it ranks as one of the quietest cars I've owned - road noise is low and wind noise practically non-existent right up to some very high speeds (I believe it's the worlds most aerodynamic production car....if so, it shows most in it's total lack of wind noise at high speed).
The engine....when did Mercedes diesels become this good? I test drove an E350CDI coupe back in 2009 (or was it a 320CDI back then?) and if I'm not mistaken, this 350 engine in my car is much improved and right up there with the BMW 335d in terms of refinement and pleasant sound qualities. Yes, I am an AMG '63 owner complimenting the sound of a diesel but it really is either very quiet and subtle under normal load or, when pushed, it creates a nice (but very distant) roar. Refinement wise, this is about as good as I could ever need a diesel to be and it's wonder how car manufacturers will progress from here to deliver perceptible improvement?
Performance wise, it is quick enough if not what I'd
call fast. In reality, it IS
fast but it was never going to seem as such to me! It piles on speed smoothly, if rather undramatically, and is still quicker than most cars out there. It definitely isn't as rapid as the 335d but it's easily a match for the Jaguar 3.0 S in the XF/XJ and makes a nicer sound than that engine too. I'm genuinely amazed at how this engine appears to have progressed over the last few years.
I think the gearbox is absolutely fine and I find it smooth, responsive and always in the right gear (what more could I ask of it?). Combined with this diesel engine, it also doesn't have too much of an elastic feeling when pulling off (I'm not sure if this is the correct term but it seems to deliver a direct drive between engine and wheels very quickly).
IMO, it has less of a 'torque converter' feel than the ZF 6-seeder that I've been used in other brands recently and after having experienced the new ZF 8-speeder in a Jaguar XF, it's as good as that in normal 'C' mode and much better in 'S' mode (probably due to the individual manufacturers programming of their Sport modes, something Jaguar haven't got right yet).
Like all Mercedes' I've tried, it's not at it's best in 'Manual' mode as the delay between using paddle and the gearbox making the change is a fraction too long. However, I tend to use it in C or S for 99.9% of the time so it's a non-issue to me, and even my SLS suffers the manual delay to a similar extent and it doesn't bother me in that.
The stop-start functionality works brilliantly - it's so fast and so smooth to restart that, even if it cuts out just as I'm reapplying throttle to move away, it's never caught me out.
Also, Mercedes seem to be the only manufacturer to employ a 'hold' function where you dab the brake quickly to get the car to hold itself in traffic. The fact that stop-start works with
this (so you can sit there with the engine off and not need to have the brake applied) is, I believe a unique and superb feature. It's also a testament how quick stop-start responds - when you use the hold function with stop-start, the car only knows to restart when you apply throttle meaning it doesn't even have the split second it takes to move foot from brake to accelerator to start the car. Yet, it's still 100% seamless and the car moves instantly.
The big one for me....does it do the 40mpg I need it to?
Well, I've done 700 miles in it already and in that time, half has been town/local driving and the other half motorway. And I'm delighted....
Pinned to the outside lane of the motorway from East Midlands to London and back (moving over when appropriate, of course
), with a speeds between 70-XX.Xmph, it delivered a solid 41mpg. Around town it's doing around 30mpg and the average so far is around 38mpg. This is normal, not 'economy' driving so this could be improved upon considerably if I tried and, once the engine is run in, it should slip over the 40mpg mark. What more could I ask of a 265bhp V6 engine?
So, on the whole this car is actually delighting me. It had all the chance of being quite an unremarkable and nondescript car in comparison to the SLS but the reality is, it's not chore to use it daily and is actually proving to be one of the best (read: least 'stressful', given my OCD tendencies!) day to day cars that I've had. Interestingly, given it's a C-Class chassis, it definitely does feel more 'E" in character....refinement, built etc do seem a step up on the C so not sure how they do that when the basic car underneath is the same!
It means I can keep the SLS more for pleasure (although that's debatable at present), although, as we only have the two cars, when I need to do the work miles in the E class, my other half uses the SLS for her 4 mile commute....something she is delighted about!
Now, we all know how quickly I get fed up of cars and this could be something that I potentially get bored of quickly. But, how these things normally work with me is that rather than just get bored per se, there's normally something that annoys me about a car that drives me to want to change it. This E class is so competent and, as long as that lasts and things don't start going wrong, I can't see anything that'll annoy me. So, it's longevity is all dependant on when I actually get bored of it but then it's overall competence will make it a challenge to replace with something that is equally as good in every area. Lets give it until the end of the year when it just so happens the new Range Rover Sport is released.....
Heres a few pictures after I cleaned it at the weekend....