Driving report: Mercedes E 400e 4matic: Pushed to the edge

The E-Class is a legend - no less - no more.

Driving report: Mercedes E 400e 4matic: Pushed to the edge

The E-Class is a legend - no less - no more. Together with the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6, the three-pack is the big number worldwide when it comes to business sedans, which many still find with a backpack and therefore great as a station wagon. But the dream car of business customers is under pressure across brands and even the new W214 generation of the E-Class is feeling the effects. The world wants SUVs and, at best, electric – the market launch of the new star cruiser will no longer be quite as bold as it was a few years ago. Thanks to its proportions and simple elegance, the design of the new model is a hit - apart from the orgy of stars, because depending on the model variant, not only do the rear lights shine in a star look, but the viewer looks at a true Milky Way in the radiator grille, on the bonnet and where else. This should please Asian customers in particular and those in the USA or the Emirates - the Europeans often like it a bit more discreet and the E-Class of the near future would also be recognized by everyone without a single signet. It has been sufficiently different from the C and S class for a long time.

As expected, the upper class from Swabia offers a wealth of high-tech equipment and comfort without any limits worth mentioning. The fact that driver assistance level three is not planned for the new flagship from Stuttgart may, to put it mildly, be just as surprising as the Mercedes E 300 de, which is still in the range, because nobody would really miss a plug-in hybrid diesel, because the normal diesel engine is economical enough. If hybrid, then please the E 400e, which should be a good choice between head and heart for many customers. Despite the misleading nomenclature, the plug-in hybrid carries the power of two hearts. The two-liter turbo four-cylinder with 185 kW / 252 hp is supported in terms of propulsion by an electric motor that contributes a further 95 kW / 129 hp. The driving performance is corresponding due to the impressive total output of 280 kW / 381 hp and 650 Nm. Apart from the sport mode, the recuperation levels can be set via the shift paddles - up to level D up to one-pedal drive, in which the brakes remain almost idle.

From a standing start, the obligatory all-wheel drive vehicle accelerates to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds and the top speed is limited to 250 km/h. The fuel consumption is truly microscopic at 0.6 to 0.9 liters per 100 kilometers with a fully charged battery pack. If you are traveling electrically alone, you can cover an impressive 95 to 109 kilometers to the next charging stop and consume almost 20 kWh per 100 kilometers at the socket. This is made possible by a 25.4 kWh battery pack, of which 19.5 kWh can be used. It can be recharged with 11 or up to 55 kW – just as you wish. The drive package consisting of the two engines, all-wheel drive and a finely tuned nine-speed automatic transmission is great, because depending on the driving program, speed and requirement profile, both drive modules ensure propulsion that is as gentle as it is powerful. Thanks to the 650 Nm system torque, the boost is impressive without delay when performance is requested, and the E-Class skilfully mimics the big cruiser, and not just when it comes to electric crawling. The only downside is the engine sound, because the supercharged four-cylinder is superficially quiet, but sounds inharmonious and overly strained when sprinting. At least here, at least two more combustion chambers are sorely missed, which currently only the Mercedes E 450 4matic offers its customers. If the less than sovereign sound bothers you, simply turn up the volume on the sound system and let the sound come from 17 speakers and four structure-borne sound converters – with 730 watts. Even more impressive are the countless driver assistance systems, where the E-Class alone fails at level three. This is reserved solely for the Mercedes S-Class and the EQS.

The level of comfort is in a class of its own with excellent air suspension and dampers, which, like the drive, adapt entirely to the driver's requirements. The rear-axle steering is linked to the variable air springs, with which the 4.95-metre-long luxury-class sedan gains maneuverability, particularly during parking manoeuvres, as the rear wheels can turn by up to 4.5 percent. This reduces the turning circle from 12.0 to 11.1 meters. The maximum of five occupants inside the E-Class don't notice any of this. You will enjoy excellent seats in the front and rear and the low noise level that the excellent insulation of the passenger compartment brings with it. Thanks to the increase in wheelbase to 2.96 meters, the rear passengers in particular have more space than before. The load space in the plug-in hybrids is still manageable at 370 liters; but the annoying edge in the trunk floor has at least disappeared. With 540 liters, however, it is lavish for the versions without hybrid drive alone. Mercedes is currently silent on the price. It can be assumed that the basic version of the new E-Class will start at just over 60,000 euros. The 381 hp E 400e 4matic should easily cost 80,000 euros with solid comfort equipment.