It’s not an easy thing filling large shoes, whether it’s the previous success of a parent or older sibling, matching up is always a big ask. The latest to face this tough proposition is the Mercedes E250. It needs to follow the reputation of the thousands of older-model E-Class vehicles that have proved highly popular as taxi’s working the streets of Europe. Here in NZ when we need a taxi, it’s either a Ford Falcon or a rattling old Nissan Bluebird but on the continent it’s lines of E-Class Taxis waiting outside train stations. Taxi drivers tell stories of E-Classes with staggering mileage on the clock that still offer supreme comfort for paying passengers. So is the new E-Class blessed with the same reliability and refinement as its hard working ancestors? Car and SUV set the meter running with the E250 CDI to find out.
The E250 sedan is predicted to be the high volume seller of the new E-Class range helped largely by its entry-level price of $104,900 and green credentials.
The E250’s heartbeat is provided by a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that pumps 150kW of power to the rear wheels. It’s not exactly a performance vehicle but with turbocharging and a generous 500 Nm of torque on tap acceleration is brisk. Peak torque arrives at just 1600rpm making the E250 no slouch off the line, 100kph is reached in 7.2 seconds and it won’t stop till 240kph shows on the speedo. After the initial torque shove the Mercedes settles into its work comfortably and is at its smooth best while cruising.
Mated to an ageing five-speed auto transmission the E250 hums along with relaxed gear changes liking to keep itself low in the rev range. The result of such restraint is a very impressive fuel economy of 6l/100km on the combined cycle. Not bad for a sedan tipping the scales at 1735kg without a newer 6- or 7-speed transmission. To help achieve this economical figure the E250 has been given newly developed tyres, an energy-saving generator and numerous aerodynamic aids to keep it slippery.
In terms of handling the E250 has a small amount of body roll during cornering but holds its line well, offers reassuring grip and is surprisingly quick point-to-point on twisty roads. The variable-ratio steering works a charm and is firm enough at pace while also maintaining good low-speed maneuverability. Ride comfort remains an area of strength and the suspension is set accordingly with enough travel in the springs to protect occupants from almost all bumps and divots in the road.
Putting a smaller engine into a large car is a new trick for Mercedes but in other respects the E250 marks a return to values of old. Most notably in terms of comfort, refinement and the general solid feel that has almost always been a hallmark for Mercedes. The cabin is cosseting and is impeccably put together using high quality materials all round. It’s very spacious for the front occupants while the rear passengers have adequate leg and headroom. The leather seats are excellently soft, well bolstered with multiple adjustments and are ideal for long-range touring duties. Switchgear and instrumentation becomes quickly familiar and a jog dial easily operates the high-mounted display screen. The standard equipment list is suitably lengthy and includes a six-disc DVD changer and sat nav.
For all the E250’s hi-tech gadgetry its most impressive trick is the way occupants are isolated from the outside world. With the attention paid to aerodynamics and also insulation, wind and road noise is kept to a minimum. The diesel engine, which isn’t exceptionally quiet when heard from outside the vehicle, is relegated to a distant murmur on the inside.
The exterior aesthetic is modern and stately mixing a chunky bold front end with more conservative rear styling. The contrasting silver trim, broad shoulder lines and ‘Pontoon’ crease above the rear wheel-arches all add character. The top-end look is finished with 17-inch 5-spoke alloys and LED lights front and rear.
Safety systems have become a clear focus for Mercedes and the E250 is set to be a class-leader in this area. All the usual bases are well covered with an army of airbags including driver’s knee, an advanced Electronic Stability Program and a reinforced body shell design. Further electronic aids include Attention Assist that monitors 70 different factors to check driver alertness, and the optional Distronic Plus (a proximity control that lets you know when you’re following too closely and will apply the brakes if a crash is evident). If it gets too late and a crash is unavoidable active head restraints, belt force limiters, and seatbelt pretensioners are all ready to fire up.
The new Mercedes E250 is difficult to fault and there is no doubt that it shares the same all-round competence and supreme build quality that gave its ancestors a near-legendary reputation. The diesel engine offers solid performance and very thrifty fuel consumption. Dynamically the E250 has limits most owners will never test. The level of standard equipment is high and the cabin is about as comfortable as you can get. If you want a stylish, luxurious vehicle that will go the distance and you’ve got a six-figure budget to lay down then check out the new Mercedes E250.
Click through to the next page for a list of specifications
Price: from $104,900 as tested $122,400
What we like:
- High-level ride comfort
- Frugal but strong diesel engine
- Safety features
What we don’t like:
- Dated 5-speed auto box
- Rear legroom
Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI – Specifications
Engine and Performance
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 7.8
Compression ratio 16.2:1
Cylinder arrangement/number 4-Cylinder
Displacement (cc) 2143
Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm) 150 at 4200
Rated torque (Nm at rpm) 500 / 1600-1800
Top speed (km/h) 240
Fuel and Consumption
Cd value 0.26
CO2 emissions combined (g/km) 159
Emission class EU5
Fuel consumption combined (l/100km) 6
Tank capacity incl. reserve 59/8
Drive system Rear drive
Transmissions 5-speed automatic
Dimensions and Weights
Boot capacity (VDA) (I) 540
Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) 1735/545
Maximum roof load (kg) 100
Perm. GVM (kg) 2280
Turning circle (m) 11.25
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo