he Mercedes E-Class is a luxury sedan for everyone. While the ‘E’ stands for Einspritzmotor (fuel injection engine), it just reminds me of ‘everyone’. The car is finely balanced between the exquisiteness of the S-Class and the lower rung variants below it. It stares the BMW 5 Series and the Jaguar XF in the eye without flinching. Such is its panache. It takes the nice things from the S-Class family and packs them into a more affordable package. It saw its first major overhaul in style and design in 2017 and hasn’t turned back since.
The 2021 E-Class is consistent with its predecessor's not-so-mild-mannered enhancements that have steadily infused incredible technology and cabin improvements. In terms of design, there’s a lot for both, the driver and on-looker, to take in.
On the outside, the headlights and the taillights have been revamped. The former is a lot sleeker, features a single LED DRL strip with two prominent chrome spots, while the latter has gone slimmer and is seemingly more horizontal. The diamond grille reminds us of its A-Class sibling and the ‘power domes’ on the bonnet are the most prominent among the lines and bumps that break the monotony of the exterior design, adding necessary flair.
When you step into the 2021 E-Class, you realise that this is truly a luxury sedan, made for the rear passengers. The rear seats can recline by an impressive angle and are spacious in terms of head-room and leg-room. Rear occupants are also treated to a Samsung tablet that gives them access to features such as music playback, climate control, and ambient lighting. A wireless charging pad and a handy slot at the back of the front seats for accessories make this an excellent passenger sedan.
The cockpit is no less luxurious. The white upholstery and wooden touches ooze with opulence. The E 350d AMG variant gets blue highlights on the dashboard and other surfaces that add a touch of futurism. The most prominent fixtures on the dashboard are the two 12.3-inch screens that manage the infotainment and other key features. One of these houses the digital instrument cluster, which is represented by a neat array of vintage dials. Mercedes’ MBUX software makes life easier with voice commands, connectivity to leading mobile operating systems (with remote functions), and an IoT SIM that helps you keep track of the vehicle, so you never forget where you’ve parked. The 590-watt Burmester audio system is fantastic. I admire the thought put into the Energizing Seat Kinetics feature that makes minor adjustments to the seat’s configuration so that your muscles aren’t stressed by being in the same position during long drives. It sounds trivial, but this could be a blessing for drivers who chauffeur their bosses over long distances and adventurous car-owners alike.
That’s not all, the panoramic sunroof offers majestic views of the starlit sky, with the ambient lighting setting the mood, especially when you’re cruising to dimly lit locales. Mercedes have always paid special mind to the safety of their cars. The E-Class features ABS with EBD brake-assist, traction control, airbags, front and rear parking sensors to cram you safely into tight spots, and a helpful 360-degree parking camera. At the risk of sounding nit-picky, the one thing I found missing is a powered boot.
Driving the E-Class is pure pleasure. The three-spoke steering wheel is now endowed with touch panels that are more sensitive than previous versions. The car is available with three engine configurations. You get to choose between the E200 petrol, the E220 diesel, and the AMG Line trim E350 diesel. This is the first time that the engine that powers the S-Class steps down to make a home in the E-Class. We tested the E200 Petrol variant that comes with a sublime 2-litre engine that is paired with a 9-speed automatic gearbox. I particularly loved the weight management on the steering. The Comfort Mode is the ideal if you’re in the city. The Sport Mode takes the pleasure of cruising away and transforms the E-Class into something that is aggressive and much sportier, which seems quite uncharacteristic.
The Eco Mode isn’t a natural pick for many, and the Sport+ model might seem too edgy. Here’s a car you want to sit back in and glide over the careless city streets, enjoying the suspension and the silence of the engine. However, the low belly of the car can cause a few heartaches as you drive over speedbumps. You cannot make those snappy U-turns, too, so plan your moves wisely.
Here’s a Mercedes E-Class luxury sedan that is built for passengers and drivers alike. In being everyone’s car, it hasn’t biased its focus on appeasing one at the cost of the other. It makes for a great office on wheels with its spacious and comfortable cabin. It also makes for a fantastic getaway vehicle when you’re packing the entire family in for a weekend drive. The E-Class isn’t the most affordable option in the face of competition (read: Volvo), but it is a Mercedes sedan and comes with the premium of the overall experience that the German carmaker has tirelessly tried to improve over decades.