The E-Class is considered by many, both inside and outside Mercedes-Benz, to be the heart of the brand. We drive the revised W213-generation 190kW E300 Coupe
It’s a sign of both the advancement within the automotive industry and my own advancing years that 190kW was a power output to be reckoned with when I first began testing cars in the late 1990s. Even though it took 5.0 litres of homegrown V8 iron to muster 185kW in the HSV Clubsport (VS), we marvelled at that prodigious number, while studiously ignoring the fuel consumption that struggled to get below 15L/100km and could often breach 20L/100km if you chased the peak outputs. Flash forward to the facelifted Mercedes-Benz E300 Coupe pictured and its 190kW and accompanying 370Nm (down just 30Nm on the Clubsport) are produced by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that also boasts a combined-cycle ADR fuel consumption figure of 8.0L/100km. During our time with the E300 Coupe, it returned a figure of 8.2L/100km from a combination of peak-hour crawling, urban errands, highway running and a little bit of dynamic testing on some challenging roads.
The E-Class’ march of progress began in 1953 with the introduction of the W120 series, known as the Ponton. Built in Stuttgart, South Africa and even Port Melbourne, the Ponton was Mercedes-Benz’s first monocoque car and it cast the die for the E-Class’ reputation for robust luxury. With a history stretching back almost 70 years (though the first few generations never wore an E-Class badge), it’s little surprise that the E-Class is Benz’s most successful model, and since 2013, it’s been the segment leader in Australia.
E-Class owners are loyal Benz customers, having been with the brand for an average of 11.5 years – second only to the tenure of S-Class owners. E-Class owners tend to renew their vehicle every 3.5 years, and E-Class sedan buyers rarely move from or to a different Mercedes model.
The current W213 generation E-Class arrived in 2016 and heralded numerous driver assistance programmes (further enhanced with this facelift) along with the debut of the now-familiar widescreen cockpit. For the facelifted W213, the operating system has now switched over to MBUX (from Comand) and the central display now features touchscreen functionality. The full suite of safety technology includes Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Active Distance Assist, Parking Assist, Active Lane Keeping, Blind Spot Asssit with exit warning, and Active Steering and Stop-and-Go Assist for traffic jams.
The exterior benefits from a new headlight design, and now features the AMG Line styling package as standard – bonnet with power domes, new grille treatment, along with sportier front and rear bumpers. The sedan also receives new taillights and revised bootlid.
The E300’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder delivers stout performance when you stretch the engine, but otherwise slips into the background as the big Coupe soothes its way through traffic or mooches along a highway or country road. The nine-speed gearbox is a perfect partner for the engine, delivering rarely felt shifts at just the right times.
It’s an unfussed way to travel from A to B, though the standard 20-inch alloys can snag sharp-edged imperfections and catch out the air suspension. But that’s really the only slight deviation from the script as the E300 delivers on the expectations built by 70 years of E-Class. Otherwise, the E300 Coupe is a serene way to travel.
The flipside to the serenity is that is doesn’t enter a phonebooth (kids, you’ll have to look that up) and emerge as Superman once you find an engaging ribbon of tarmac. The competence remains, and the E300 Coupe will make very smart progress over that ribbon of road, but it doesn’t grab you by the lapels and give you life-affirming glimpses into a hitherto unseen dynamic world. And, to be fair, that’s not an expectation upon which the E300 should deliver. It ticks all the boxes that it should – luxury, safety, technology and robust functionality – without ever getting confused about its raison d’etre.
The revised E-Class range kicks off at $96,900 for the 145kW/320Nm E200 sedan, while the 190kW/370Nm E300 Coupe that we tested begins at $117,400 ($126,200 as tested). Very late this year or early in 2021, the 450kW/850Nm E63 S will top the revised E-Class range at $250,400.