Perhaps no other luxury car franchise has the kind of brand recall as the Mercedes Benz E-Class. The very first model—the W124—launched way back in 1994 set the tone for what would become India’s largest selling luxury sedan line-up. At the time, with virtually no competition, the E 220 became an instant hit in a market starved of world-class automotive performance and luxury. The W124, with its classic good looks remains a favourite with loyalists of the three-pointed star to this day. The defining characteristics of the E-Class have remained unchanged: spacious, well-appointed interiors, comfort and insulation, adequate performance, and safety.
More than two decades later, that tried-and-tested bag of virtues continues to entice buyers keen on a dependable and versatile luxury sedan. But with the new flagship version—the E 350 d—Mercedes Benz India has upped the game by adding serious performance to the mix. What you get, in addition to everything that you expect from an E-Class, is a hard-to-argue reason to tell the chauffeur to take the day off and get behind the wheel. Powered by a V6 diesel that releases 256 horses at the light tap of the gas pedal, and puts out enough grunt—620Nm of torque—to make light work of pretty much any kind of road that you throw at it, the E 350 d is aimed squarely at someone who occasionally enjoys a spot of enthusiastic driving. There are those who buy top-end models simply because of that reason, but the only real reason to consider buying this car is if you like to take the helm.
The standard accoutrements are aplenty: individual aircon, reams of leather, electronically adjustable seats et al. But the hero of this car is by far the heart of the matter, and its able companion—the 7-speed G-Tronic gearbox. The increment in power has been prudently accompanied by an equal measure of safety elevation: the eight airbags are a first in its class.
As far as looks go, there’s little to differentiate the E 350 d from its less powerful siblings—the E200 and E 220 but there’s a veritable list of goodies to justify the extra 10 lakh premium on the E 350 d. These include a 360-degree reverse parking camera, a state-of-the-art infotainment system which integrates a very audiophile-centric Harmon Kardon sound system that is accessible to the rear-seat passengers, a Keyless Go package and illuminated door still panels.
But these are bonuses: the real reason to consider the E 350 d is simply the fact that it’s an even better E-Class: these sedans have always been malleable in terms of functionality; now that versatility has got an added injection of testosterone. With no malice towards the E-Class’ proposition, no one ever bought one to burn rubber. With the E 350 d, that’s precisely what will convince enthusiasts to consider what was always a practical pick. If you ask me, that makes it more practical than ever.
Mercedes-Benz E 350
Engine 2987cc; 6-cylinder V6 diesel
Power 265 bhp
Torque 620 Nm
Price 057 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)